Getting Ready for the Moon Landing Celebrations

It is almost 50 years since the moon landings. In the weeks leading up to it, I will be having my own little celebration, tidying up Ricky Rocket, my early reader series set in the year 3,000.

Ricky and his family encounter most of the problems that kids and families do today, but in a spacey, hi-tech way! Ricky is a feisty kid who is not afraid to try new things and take control.

Above is my latest video, a read-along-with-Shoo storytelling of the the day Ricky learned to fly without stabilisers. Dad sort of helps, but mostly gets in the way! It’s a story every child who ever learned to ride a bike will empathise with.

The story is available in my three book bind up – Ricky Rocket Rocks the Planet – signed copies with free Ricky Rocket poster are available in my own bookstore.

I’m planning to make Apollo drawing videos over the next few weeks. If there is something you would like me to draw to help your school or homeschool or homework project, let me know and I’ll give you a shout out on the video!

To see more Ricky Rocket videos go to the YouTube Playlist.

You can also get the book from Amazon – follow the links below:

Someone should do something about it.

“Someone should do something about it,” is a phrase we often hear, never thinking that we are probably the person of which we speak!

When it comes to climate-change, planet-extinction or the future of the next generation, it seems there is little we can do when faced with such insurmountable obstacles. So we pass the responsibility on to “Someone” else.

I’ve been on a social media treadmill these last ten years, churning out content for the YouTube machine, meeting ridiculous weekly schedules – doing all by myself, what is usually created by a production team – oh yes, and I’ve been carrying on my day job as a children’s author and illustrator all the while.

Something had to give.

A few weeks ago I decided I needed a break and pretty much stopped making videos.

The sky did not fall in.

I found I had time in the day to do stuff – like the day job for a start. I’ve been enjoying putting book illustration ahead of meeting YouTube schedules. YouTube hates it – my stats are dropping quickly – proving how much of a game this all is.

I’ve been tidying up the garden and realise just how much I have let things go these last few years – always needing to spend just a little more time tweaking that video or planning the next one.

I’ve had time to think about social media. How we are being gamed by huge corporations, that are making Midas-like fortunes out of us – for we are their raw materials. They have built their empires on public research, development and infrastructure, but are not giving anything back. hoarding their wealth like storybook dragons sitting on gold, or spending it to protect and expanding their domains.

Someone needs to do something about that.

I’ve made over 1700 videos on YouTube! Mostly they are showing how to draw things. It was great at the start. No one else was doing it and I was on a mission to get people drawing, with my mantra, Practice! Practice! Practice!

Actually people don’t want to hear that. They want to know what pen you use, thinking it has magical properties. They don’t want to know that I’ve spent a lifetime drawing and thinking about drawing.

What is amazing about taking a break, is that the world is still here – the real world, with soil you can plunge your hands into – with birds twittering in the trees and flowers blooming in the beds and byways.

We went down to the garden centre to get some plants and came home with … piles of plastic! They have so much plastic building up at the garden centre, they are thrilled to send you away with plastic pots in plastic trays with plastic labels – shifting the problem along. What on earth can I do with it all? I have a mountain of empty flower pots already! Into the bin with them. Shift the problem along!

I find myself looking at iPhone adverts, thinking maybe it’s time to upgrade? But my phone works perfectly (iPhone 6s). I use it all the time. It is my radio and podcast machine as well as camera and mobile encyclopaedia.

It is a truly magical device. I love it and would not want to lose the use of it. I’ve changed the battery twice already – where did that lithium waste go? – I use it so much. It can last a little bit longer – especially now that Apple have had to cease slowing down older models on purpose. I can wait for 5G – but then that’s another nightmare waiting in the shadows for us all!

What is most amazing is that I find I have time to think again, pottering in the shed, tidying up years of accumulated trash.

As I tidy and think what to do with things – everything is either made of plastic or comes wrapped in plastic. We encounter plastic all day long. I went to the dump to get rid of an old computer – to re-cycle it. The contents of the bin it went into get crushed! e-Waste! How can that be recycled?

“Something” has to change and “someone” has to do “something” about it, and that some one has to be me – because no one else isis going to do it!

So what can I do? I want to wave a magic wand. I want to go on YouTube and ask something simple like, “what is that pen you are using?” in the hope I get a quick answer, but I know there is no simple answer.The problem is something that has to be worked out, slowly and carefully, unpicking the mess we have got ourselves into. But there isn’t a lot of time left. Someone needs to do something now!

No one is going to change habits or systems overnight. People need to be persuaded that the something new is good and better than what they have already and that the change is easy and worth it.

So, what can I do?

I can think about my personal relationship with the planet and work out how to make it better – for the both of us.

My chosen life-work is as a children’s author and illustrator. I can do something there. Benni, the character at the top of the page, has been growing in my mind these last few years and is about to finally get into print – with a kickstarter project later this summer.

He and Penni are going to highlight problems with the world as it is, and maybe try to find a few answers. In my imagination, Penni and Benni have been quite high-tech and social media types. But, like me, they are shying away from all that – taking control of social media for their own ends and looking to find an ethical way to live – without preaching or dogma – showing another possible way – a better, more sustainable, happier way. Not to give up high tech, but to use knowledge and technology to advantage – not to create more landfill.

And what am I going to do?

I’m going to try and work this all out.

Firstly, what the heck to do with all the plastic waste?

And what the heck to do with all the stuff that we don’t need anymore?

“Someone” has decided to do “something!”

I’ve no idea what the answers are, but I want to try and find out – and have fun doing it.

Drawing Professor McGonagall form Harry Potter as a Cat

In this video I draw and paint in watercolour, Minnie the cat pretending to be Professor Minerva McGonagal, head of Gryffindor House at Hogwarts School – from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter Saga.

This is part of my 100 Cats series, and was commissioned by Gill Ward in an online auction that was raising funds for the late children’s author, Tommy Dombavand, who sadly died earlier this year.

It is mostly painted in water colour and the final yellow and green were added with Dr Martin’s Radiant watercolours – Daffodil Yellow and Chartreuse Green.

Find out more about Tommy Donbavand here:

and at his website here:
With award winning children’s author and illustrator, Shoo Rayner

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