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What inspires the stories in my picture books? Sometimes it's other storytellers.

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

It's a lazy, rainy Sunday and although the country is out of lockdowns, it seems the habit to stay at home has stuck. On days like this when the motivation to do one's own work is non-existent, lying back watching an inspiring creation from another is usually the best fix. Something thought provoking, artistic and endearing is what the soul needs on days like these.

The problem is that finding quality content can be a pain ... I can personally attest to having spent more time during the lockdown searching for things to watch than actually watching them! So to save our readers some time, here's my pick of the top five things I watched this year.

It's an eclectic mix, but that's what we humans are, eclectic. Each piece mentioned below did moved me at some level and ultimately found it's way into the stories that I wrote and am working on for the Willow the Wonderer series of picture books.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

1. The Alpinist

If you watched Free Solo and loved it, then watch The Alpinist. It takes the sport of free solo to new heights through the tales of a relatively unknown, under the radar, free soloist - Marc-André Leclerc. A loveable, goofy kids who does what he does for the love of it - not for sponsorships, not for profile and definitely not for money. I hate spoilers and won't say more.

2. Human Flow

Human Flow documents what is mostly referred to as the 'refugee crisis' in the most unexpectedly beautiful and poignant way. It shows us the human flow occurring around the world, as natural and political environments change. The artistry of director Ai Weiwei is obvious throughout. One for all lovers of cinematography to watch even if they don't give two bobs about refugees. No other reporting into refugees has humanised the issue more.

3. The Farthest - The Voyager Spacecraft

In these times of PR and spin, when 5 minute jaunts in 'space' by billionaires is presented as being a "remarkable new achievement in space travel" we all would do well to watch The Farthest to see what breakthrough in space travel really looks like. And no, there are no billionaires headlining the event either. Instead we get to hear from the team of scientists who built the Voyager spacecraft, programmed the trajectory, made the 'golden record' and tracked it's journey for over four decades it took to travel across our solar system and into deep space. On it's way, it swung by all the outer planets, sending first time seen footage that led to groundbreaking new findings on what 'life' at the edge of the solar system is like. On Carl Sagan's romantic notion, it also did a loop around to take the first ever 'selfie' of our solar system, inspiring the beautiful poem, Pale Blue Dot.

4. Michael Sherman & Bernardo Kastrup discussion consciousness

In the age of social media, most of us are unwittingly living in our little echo chambers, where algorithms decide what we see based on the box they have pigeonholed us in. To counter this we must all actively seek to seek and engage in content and with people at the opposite ends of spectrum - to understand their world views, test the assumptions underpinning ours and seek to find the middle ground. This is why this particular podcast has made it to my list. Renowned sceptic Michael Shermer interviews computer scientists and philosopher Bernado Kastrup to discuss consciousness. They dive into Bernado's critism of scientific materialism, the dominant scientific paradigm of the moment that regards matter to be the origin of all things including consciousness.

5. Agniyogana

Yoga has spread like wild fire through the west and in the process has been reduced to it's physical aspect. Today it's mostly about body image. This could not be further from the essence of the yogic path. Agniyogana explores the deeper aspects of the traditional Hatha Yoga with an artistic flair. It evokes the feeling of meditation for that is what yoga is, an introspective exploration of the nature of our self, consciousness and reality.


And here's another thing worth your while - check out my new picture book!

A new picture book,

written by Reeta Dhar &

illustrated by Darren Pryce

  • Beautifully crafted illustration

  • Melodious rhymes

  • Engages kids in counting

  • Imparts wisdom on happiness

"It's not just a book

but a gift to us all"


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