Storytime with Jessica – Nick Bland

Nick Bland is an Australian writer and illustrator and one of my favourite picture book creators. I’m always very excited when I see one of his books being published. He might be best well-known for his Bear series: his delightful bear is cranky, brave, hungry, itchy, sleepy, and noisy in his Jingle Jangle jungle. But, given that so many of you have enjoyed these bear books I’m going to talk about some other books that Nick Bland has created. If you haven’t enjoyed his books before I hope you’ll add his books to your list of books to share with children (young and old).

His Books

Penny Pasketti likes to look up at the stars and pretend they are her friends…until one day a shooting star falls to the ground and they become friends. But stars need to go home to the skies. Penny and the star are going to have to find a way to get it back up. We see the journey they take as they try to return the star and I felt sad both for the star who wanted to go home and the friends who were being separated. But, right as we are on the final journey to separation I noticed something in the pictures. If you’ve read my Storytime posts before you may remember the three main purposes of illustrations: to connect directly to the meaning of the text, to give us more information than the text does alone, or to contradict the text in some way. In the case of Twinkle we are given a glimpse into what is happening beyond Penny…and her star may not be the only falling star to need a way home. So, even though there is a separation there was something about the extra information that just made me smile.

You may have heard of this book before…the book was the most borrowed picture book in 2016 and 2015. For a very good reason; this book will make you smile or laugh and you will want it to keep going past the last page. This book is about a Nicholas Ickle and it would be terribly rude of me to spoil the storyline so I will instead encourage you to read and find out exactly what this book is about.

But, I’m not just going to leave you there I’ll also tell you about one of the great aspects of the illustrations in this book – they give us clues. Little hints that allow the reader to guess what is happening next. This style of illustration foreshadowing is tied with repetitive language and plot allowing children to be fully engaged with the book and knowing what to expect (which makes them experts and encourages confidence with narrative structure) all wrapped up in a funny book.

Henry, our main character, is a very serious boy.

Then one day, he catches IMAGINITIS and some very silly thoughts come into his brain. He tries his best to combat these silly thoughts with the help of a VERY SENSIBLE book but in the end he just has to give in…and be silly, at least until he grows up.

The pictures in this book are beautiful, as is everything Nick Bland does, and he uses colour and black and white to distinguish between Henry (the very sensible boy – in black and white) and his very silly ideas (colour). This adds to the depth of meaning in the story and helps kids to be actively engaged in what they are reading because they will know that there is something very important about all of the coloured bits.

I could go on and review every book I have that was written and illustrated by Nick Bland but I’m going to stop there but there are so many more books to find and enjoy, and you can borrow them all from the library.


What does every Very Sleepy Bear need?

Someone to rock him to sleep…so, I’ve found a vintage Wiggles video with their song Rock-A-Bye Your Bear (which I didn’t know until just this moment is not actually called Rock-A-Bye Bear…you really do learn something new every day. And now you can watch a super-young Wiggles rock a bear to sleep.


I haven’t reviewed any of the bear books but my rhymes are all bear-y…and I couldn’t resist altering an old favourite to fit in with this theme. I did try and do one of the five sleepy bears did this and something happened with rhyming and there were only four cranky bears left but it proved much too difficult for my January brain so I went with something else that would allow for much GROWLING!!!

Five little bears,
Went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother bear said,
“Grrrr, grrrr, grrrr, grrrr.”
But only four little bears came back.

Four little bears…
Three little bears…
Two little bears…

One little bear,
Went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mother bear said,
“Grrrr, grrrr, grrrr, grrrr.”
But none of the five little bears came back.

Sad mother bear,
Went out one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Sad mother bear said,
“Grrrr, grrrr, grrrr.”
And all of the five 5 little bears came back.


Twinkle Star

What you need: a star drawn or printed onto card, something to colour with, something to cut with, something to glue with, and something sparkly to glue.

What you do: colour in your star, cut it out, glue twinkly things onto it and then you have a new paper friend…and you won’t even have to send it back up into the sky later.