The Journey

Creating We're All Just Birds: As told by Author Rasam Moghimi

Sien Verschueren - We're All Just Birds page drawing & sketch

Welcome to the story behind 'We're All Just Birds.' As the author of this book, I'm thrilled to invite you into the enchanting world we've created. Our book began as a humble idea that sprouted into a heartwarming tale of a family of Kiwi birds and their adopted egg, brought to life through the exquisite illustrations of Sien Verschueren. It celebrates the importance of diversity and reminds us that beneath our feathers, we are more alike than we think. The journey from imagination to the pages of this masterful picture book is a story in itself, one I'm excited to share with you.

'We're All Just Birds' was a collective effort, with many remarkable artists contributing their talents. Our book captures the beauty of nature and wildlife in Aotearoa New Zealand and delivers a timely message through the magic of rhymes. Join us on this extraordinary journey as I unveil the story of how 'We're All Just Birds' came to life, and perhaps you'll find yourself inspired to create your own.


The Story Begins

The Egg in 'We're All Just Birds' illustrated by Sien Verschueren

In the heart of the lush rainforest in Laingholm, Waitakere, the story was born from a single curious line, a mere seed of an idea: "What if a family of kiwi stumbled upon a lonely egg?" After a delightful and imaginative conversation with friends, this little line lingered in my mind for weeks until one day, with sun-dappled leaves overhead, it was brought to life. It was a special moment, a creative spark that began our extraordinary journey that summer in Aotearoa.


What Made You Write it Rasam?

Nana Kiwi

"In the past, I have experienced moments of not being accepted, feeling different because of my race, and occasionally questioning where I truly belonged, whether abroad or in my hometown of West Auckland, New Zealand. These emotions inspired me to write 'We're All Just Birds,' a story for those who've felt unaccepted or left out at some point in their lives and for those who might encounter such feelings in the future.

'We're All Just Birds' is my gentle exploration of diversity and the art of embracing it, portrayed through our endearing feathered characters. My hope is that, through their adventure, we can all learn to embrace our uniqueness with self-confidence and pride."


The Start of the Art with Lina Leks

Lina Leks original art concept - We're All Just Birds Lina Leks, my friend and talented artist, played an early role in building the foundation for the story's art and character creation. Her passion and creativity infused a unique perspective into the project, forming a creative and fun basis for our art concept. She created the first sketches and draft scenes for the first half of the book, providing Sien and I with the platform to craft this wonderful world. I am so grateful for Lina's support and encouragement.


Sien's Artistry: A Journey Together

Page 7 of We're All Just Birds by Rasam Moghimi & Sien Verschueren

In late 2021, destiny led me to Warwick House in Whakatū Nelson, a place brimming with inspiration. Within the walls of this grand castle, I had the privilege of meeting the talented artist and tattooist, Sien Verschueren. After some convincing, Sien decided to embark on this joyful mission with me. She poured her immense artistic talent into bringing the story to life, adorning it with captivating illustrations that transport readers to a colorful kiwi world, appealing to all ages. Sien dedicated herself wholeheartedly to this project, and I am profoundly grateful for her commitment, creativity, and friendship. 


Sien's Creative Adventures

Sien drawing - We're All Just Birds

During Sien's walk of the Te Araroa trail on the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu), her sketchbook was always close by. She shares with us this creative adventure and how her drawings along the trail inspired the artwork and landscapes throughout the illustrations of 'We're All Just Birds.'

“In 2022 I walked the Te Araroa trail through the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. I brought a little sketchbook and watercolours with me, every evening I painted the huts and surroundings." 

Why Do You Draw Sien?

Sien Drawing on the Te Araroa Trail - We're All Just Birds

"It's a meditative process for me to sit outside and really look at the landscape I'm about to draw and transfer this on paper. These drawings were my inspiration for the landscapes which you can find in the book. I draw and paint in a very illustrative style, it's always been a dream of mine to illustrate a children's book. It was an absolute pleasure to draw to Rasam's beautiful writing and work together on this book. Every drawing in this book is hand drawn and painted, it made the process way longer and errors meant starting over. But the results are worth every moment."


Expertly Edited by Mariëlle Reitsma

Warwick House Castle in Nelson

In the stunning Ballroom at Warwick House, I had the pleasure of meeting my amazing partner, Mariëlle Reitsma. Mariëlle played a crucial role in shaping this project. Her editorial prowess was instrumental in refining the book, ensuring that it resonates with readers on a profound level. She not only helped me write some of the magical rhymes but also used her musical skills to ensure the story always connected with its audience. Mariëlle provided unwavering support, standing with me at every step of this creative journey. Hartelijk dank, lieve Mariëlle.


Audiobook 'Magic': A Whole New World

Rienk Speelman

Taking our story to more senses, I embarked on the journey of creating an audiobook. Serving as both the narrator and producer, I initially recorded the audiobook on my own in early 2021. However, two years later, I made the decision to enhance the production by collaborating with Rienk Speelman, a skilled audio engineer and producer based in Utrecht, Netherlands. With Rienk's expertise, we transformed my laptop sessions and recordings into a professional auditory masterpiece, and he encouraged me to explore new character voices, adding depth and vibrancy to the audiobook. I am very thankful for Rienk's contribution and support.


Text Illustrations by Jennifer Hines

Page 9 text illustration from Jennifer Hines - We're All Just Birds

Jennifer Hines' skilled artistic touch breathed life into the presentation of the text in 'We're All Just Birds.' Her word illustrations added a colorful and creative element, creating a fluid and enjoyable reading experience for all ages. Her hand-written text seamlessly complemented Sien's amazing artwork, making our story captivating and memorable to read. Throughout this process, both Jennifer and I were meticulous, and our meetings at Bistro Berlage in Amsterdam became a cherished tradition. The Bistro served as the backdrop for many of these creative discussions. I am deeply grateful for Jennifer's thoughtfulness and dedication to this project.


The Cover Art: A Puzzling Adventure

'We're All Just Birds' front cover

Crafting the cover for this playful rhyming children's book was an adventure! Teaming up with Driss Chaoui was like putting together a beautiful puzzle. Integrating his design with Sien's original cover took us through numerous fun and creative iterations. It wasn't a simple task; it took time and effort. But in the end, our collaboration conjured up a captivating book cover that's sure to delight young readers and parents alike. It's a testament to the joy of teamwork and creativity. A big thank you to Driss for his clever contribution.


Joep Graber's Graphic Help

Leaves and Trees by Sien Verschueren - We're All Just Birds

In the process of piecing some of the art elements together, Joep Graber provided incredibly helpful graphic assistance and touch-up skills. Whenever graphic changes were needed, Joep and I would team up to ensure every detail shone brilliantly. His work played a crucial role in integrating some of the elements from Sien's amazing illustrations. Joep's contribution highlighted the depth of layers within the book and the work involved in weaving it together. A big shout out to my friend Joep.


Gratitude for the Team

My heartfelt gratitude extends to our talented team: Sien Verschueren, Mariëlle Reitsma, Lina Leks, Jennifer Hines, Driss Chaoui, Rienk Speelman, and Joep Graber. Their unique contributions enriched 'We're All Just Birds' with colour and beauty. As you immerse yourself in the pages of our book, we hope you'll appreciate the amazing art and form a profound connection with the story, its characters, and the remarkable journey that shaped it. Thank you for joining us on this adventure; we eagerly anticipate sharing our story with you. If you would like a copy of this book for yourself or your loved ones, you can order the book here.