Dance of the Wild

October 08, 2018

This is a long overdue post about a recent book I've worked on, called Dance of the Wild, written by a wonderful, and always smiling, lady called Richa Jha. It is safe to say this was the longest I'd ever worked on a commission, and I loved every bit of it.

This was an artist's heaven for me, because Richa was patient with me when I was silent for months, doing very few drawings but just mulling it over in my mind, especially in the early stages. Fortunately, Richa also heads Pickle Yolk Books, a small and brave independent Indian publishing house (who published this story), and could allow this pace of working.

We were both doing other projects on the side, and I know how difficult I can be with my solitude during work, but she never rushed me. Whenever I sent in work for her to see, her sunny responses warmed me in that manner that lone artists know so well. It takes great strength of character to be like that; it's what good editors and publishers are made of, and it is why I continue to admire the person she is.

Her absolutely endearing story of Shilu (and her beloved cat Pirate) had me smitten from the start. It is born of the most basic instinct we have of wanting to be free, even of the very clothes on our person. Children express this more openly than adults, of course, because they're yet to learn the ways of the world, but we all feel it, and as we grow, we (hopefully) learn to navigate through those feelings.

The book does the same, and having it set in India makes it significant. In a country where there have historically been countless (and extremely varying) perceptions about clothing and nudity, it is not easy to tell a child what is 'right'. What we can do is to allow the child to see different versions of what could be right, without stifling the inner voice that yearns for freedom!

The book is available to buy in paperback and hardcover here and there is also a larger sized limited edition hardback (the one shown in the photographs above) which one could request for if so inclined. For those in India, here is a faster way to get hold of the paperback.

Hope you and your little ones enjoy it!

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