Confessions: 3 truths you didn’t know about Nick Bland

It is such a thrill that Nick Bland accepted our request to be part of our ‘Confessions of a Picture Book Genius’ series. He is a picture book genius, after all.

We are huge admirers of Nick Bland’s work, creativity and talent. I think what I personally admire most about Nick is his ability to truly understand what makes kids tick, and to use that to write highly entertaining and effective stories for children. His latest book, The Magnificent Tree, is a delightful story illustrated by Stephen Michael King. Nick is also one of the Barrowfolk, who cleverly transform his picture books into apps.

Nick could be described as private person. So, it is a genuine treat to learn a bit more about him. I’m sure you’ll be fascinated by the information he’s disclosed with us for the series.

1. I am colour blind.

As a kid, we had a set of 1967 Colliers Encyclopedias. I browsed them constantly (much like one might browse the internet-but slower and with more of a cockroach smell).

One day I came across a colour- blindness test where images are hidden in a sea of coloured dots. ‘Easy’, I thought, until I turned the page and found I’d scored 1 out of 10. I had identified the tea-pot as a tea cup; the number 8 as number 9 and fallen for similar traps set on each page. I took comfort in the antiquity of the resource and disregarded its findings.

It wasn’t until I started playing trivial pursuit that it disrupted my life. I kept getting the pink and orange questions mixed up. I was trying to get all of the sport questions and I was getting all of the entertainment questions. It may be the reason that I know more now about 80’s television than I do about darts.

It had absolutely no bearing on my life from that time on, until I started painting for books. My first book was in black and white so I wasn’t reminded of the colour-blindness until I started painting with multiple colours. I had to mix the same-coloured paint on 20 or so pages of a picture book completely forgetting that I had this condition. My editor cautiously asked me once, “ …is the sky supposed to be purple?” I also once had a pink handbag in a book that covered every shade.

I have since learned to mix a whole jar of paint before I start, and know I can never be a pilot.

2. For years, I misconstrued the ending of Where the Wild Things Are

When I was trying to write my first picture book I decided the best place to start was by counting how many words were in Where The Wild Things Are. I thought that number could be considered ‘about right’.

I had always loved the book as a kid and I have Sendak prints on my wall.  I found I had remembered it almost word for word. But when I got to the last page, I was shocked to discover I had been getting it wrong (or at least different) for years.

* SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t read Where the Wild Things Are*

I thought the last line, ‘…and it was still hot.’ was referring to the weather conditions. I assumed Max had dreamed up this tropical monster-land because he was boiling hot, sleeping in his wolf suit (thinking everyone knew that you have bad dreams when you’re hot). As a child, I found myself quite concerned that the parents would let Max sleep in a wolf suit in such extreme heat.  Max is even wiping his brow.

But alas, I see now, Mr Sendak was referring to the supper. I failed to acknowledge the emotional significance of the meal. Fortunately,  I was redeemed after correctly remembering the end of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

3. I can’t kill fish or cane toads.

Confessions: 3 truths you didn’t know about Nick Bland


  1. Oh, I love Nick Bland! Would you believe just recently I won a competition from Scholastic Australia of a copy of Nick’s latest in the Cranky Bear series, The Very Hungry Bear. Which completed our collection of the series thus far. (Maddie’s (3.5) fave is The Very Itchy Bear). What interesting answers! A great read. Thanks :D

  2. Kelly said: On July 16, 2012

    Oh I love a post that has me grinning the whole way through! What a great guy :-) Love that Nick was trying for sport questions and kept getting entertainment, hee hee hee. Going to look up some of his work at our library :-)

  3. Kelly said: On July 16, 2012

    Just requested a few ~ quite a waitlist for each of them :-)

    • Oh, I don’t doubt that for a second. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy them when you finally have a chance to borrow them. :)

  4. Ali said: On July 16, 2012

    What an entertaining post, it is so good to learn a little about the man behind the books. Makes me want to check out more.

Leave a Reply to Ali

Click here to cancel reply.