Almost three years ago, art director and illustrator Gattaldo’s friend of 30 years, the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, was assassinated.
That same week, as he was reading a book to his seven-year-old niece, she asked about his friend. Gattaldo recounted Caruana Galizia’s life story and what she had attempted to achieve through her writing. Back home, he started sketching and writing. He attempted to retell the story in a way his niece could understand, and the ‘Fearless, the Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia’ picture book was born. Gattaldo wanted his niece to look up to Daphne but to also understand how vital journalism is to democracy.
Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt from the UK, where he has been living with his partner Michael for the last 23 years, Gattaldo explained the story began a long time ago when he left Malta for Florence to study when he was in his twenties.
“I kind of was feeling a bit homesick so my mum used to send me newspaper cuttings,” he said, “And one of the columns I used to follow religiously was Daphne Caruana Galizia’s one. So, I just thought, well, I’ll write to her, because there were some common traits that I felt… a kindred spirit. I wrote to her not thinking that she would write back, but she did and that’s how the friendship developed.”
Gattaldo also created a website linked to the book to help children with media literacy. It attempts to instil in children an appreciation of good journalism and also provide them with the skills to interpret information and to spot that which is fake.
“The book is a celebration of her life, so it doesn’t really go into the assassination as such,” says Gattaldo, “What was important also through this book was to celebrate journalism. I think that children need to know about journalism and also about pursuing truth… I wanted children to pursue what they believe in. Whatever you may think about Daphne’s opinions, she believed in something and she pursued it.”
Gattaldo is both the author and illustrator of ‘Fearless, the Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia, published by Otter-Barry books in London) and endorsed by Amnesty International and Reporters Sans Frontières.
Photo by Antonella Muscat