Ian Falconer, creator of the internationally bestselling book series about Olivia the pig, is swapping porcine characters for canines in his first picture book outside of the Olivia universe. He’s also moving house: Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, has acquired world rights to Two Dogs, written and illustrated by Falconer, via Conrad Rippy at Levine Plotkin & Menin. The book will be published by Harper’s Michael di Capua Books in April 2020.

The acquisition is a coup for di Capua, a longtime admirer of Falconer’s work. “When the first Olivia came out, I was just blown away by it,” said di Capua, who met Falconer shortly after, at a party celebrating the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books in December 2000. “I normally consider myself a very dignified individual but I rushed over to him like a teenage girl groupie and introduced myself,” di Capua recalled. “I told him Olivia is the only book I’ve ever seen that was published by someone else that I wished I had published myself.”

When Ann Bobco, who served as art director for the entire Olivia series, left Simon & Schuster and with Michael di Capua Books already at HarperCollins, Falconer had two powerful reasons to make a change. “She’s so good graphically, just extraordinary,” Falconer said. “And all my books start as drawings. I fill in the text later on and Michael is very, very good at eliminating anything extraneous.”

Like his bestselling books about Olivia, Falconer’s family inspired Two Dogs. (Olivia is based on the real-life daughter of Falconer’s youngest sister.) The two dachshunds who star in his new picture book are named for his sister Tonia Barringer’s twins, Augie and Perry.

“After Olivia, Tonia wanted her kids to be memorialized in a book, too, and dachshunds seemed natural because our family has always had dachshunds,” Falconer said. “Our grandparents on both sides had dachshunds, we had dachshunds, our cousins had dachshunds. It’s all dachshunds, all the time.”

The 48-page book will contain many wordless spreads, and details the two dogs’ mischievous adventures when they manage to escape to the backyard one day while their family is away. Falconer started working on the book a decade ago, when he was in Paris, doing production design for an operetta, and Tonia, who works as his assistant, left the twins with him for the day. “She wanted to go shopping so I had both of them, who were eight or nine at the time, traipsing around Paris on a summer day in identical white shirts and shorts,” Falconer recalled. “They were so naughty. All they wanted to do was eat Nutella crepes so by the time I got them home, they were covered in chocolate. My sister was furious but I had new respect for her.”

Falconer is not sure that his dachshunds have series potential, like Olivia did. “I don’t know how marketable these are as stuffed animals and there are not going to be clever allusions to Eleanor Roosevelt,” he said. “But they are very cute.”