Tag Archives: Peter Bland

A poem from Peter Bland’s fabulous new collection for children




Peter Bland is one of my favourite local poets who writes for children. He has new book

The Happy Garden: New & Selected Poems for Children

Steele Roberts 2018

which I think should be in every school library and on every children’s bookshelf.

Peter writes with exactly the right ingredients: a trampoline imagination, a whizzing ear for rhyme, eye for things that surprise, sparkling humour. Peter’s poems are like little chemical reactions where things fizz and change and react and connect. Or little surprise parcels for us to open.

The Happy Garden does all these things and more! Peter has kindly given me permission to post a poem on my blog. Steele Roberts page.



The tiny tiny spider

A tiny tiny spider

is crossing the bathroom floor.

I leave him tiny tiny crumbs

he chooses to ignore.

The bathroom floor’s a desert.

I think the spider’s lost.

I think he thinks he’s a camel

and a desert has to be crossed.

Keep going, tiny spider

until you find a cave

in a crack in the tiles

or a hole in the wall

that’s cosy, warm and safe.


©Peter Bland





You might  like to check out my popUP

holiday poem challenge (deadline from Friday!!)

and my October poetry tree challenge


Peter Bland talks to Poetry Box about wandering, drawing and hops and skips

Peter Bland is one of my favourite poets for children. He lives in New Zealand but has spent his life living between here and England with his family. His poems are on all kinds of subjects but the words always dance and dart, swing and skate as though they are in playground. Peter knows how to play with words and he knows how to write for children.

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Peter has published two collections of poems for childrenThe Night Kite (Mallinson Rendel, 2004) and When Gulls Fly High (Penguin, 2011). His daughter (Joanna Bland) painted pictures for one and his son (Carl Bland) painted pictures for the other which makes these two books pretty special. I have so many favourite poems in these books that it was hard choosing one to post here! You will have to hunt for his books yourself. The poems are always playful and will take you to all kinds of places and put you in all kinds of moods.

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Peter has kindly given me permission to post one of his poems. I picked ‘The Bed Boat’ as I love the way an ordinary thing (like your bed) can become so much else. I also love the words on the end of the line and their tricky rhymes.

The Bed Boat

My bed is a boat.

The mattress won’t leak.

My head-board’s a rudder,

my sail is a sheet.


I sail every night

exploring my room,

past wardrobes like ships,

past mirrors like moons.


As I drift into sleep

my bed-boat sails on,

though where it sails to

is known to no one.


But when I wake up,

my voyage safely done,

I throw back the curtains

and let in the sun.

© Peter Bland The Night Kite Mallinson Rendel 2004

Peter kindly answered these questions for Poetry Box:

What did you like to write when you were little?
I wasn’t encouraged to use my imagination or write anything as a child. I mostly did drawings of battleships and fighter planes and buildings getting blown up. This is because I was brought up in England during the last war. As a ten year old I began drawing things from nature … fossils ans mushrooms and birds and ponds. I also invented maps leading to buried treasure.

What else did you like doing?
I was left on my own a lot, so I took to the wandering through the surrounding countryside exploring.

Do you have any favourite children’s poetry?
I liked Walter de la Mare‘s poetry because it was lonely and spooky and full of mystery.

Do you have three tips for young writers?
Always write about what really interests you.
Have fun with words. Be as silly as you like with them. Learn to speak your own poems to yourself as you’re writing them. Voice is the way a poem comes into the world.

What do you think is important when you write poems for a children’s book?
Try not to offer advice or instruction. Be playful and imaginative and full of physical relish. Children’s poems have to be immediately accessible and bursting with energy and invention. When you write a poem for children it has to take you by surprise as you write it. I wrote a lot of my poems for my own children to read to them at bedtime. This was in the 50’s and 60’s before television. I enjoyed that shared experience so much I’ve gone on writing them. Grown-ups seem to like them as much as children. I think this is because it brings back to life the forgotten child in their own nature. Children have a wonderful ability to be fully at home in the moment, and poetry is very sympathetic to this. It likes to hop and skip.

This Week on NZ Poetry Box: Remember when Nana and Granddad


Last week I read a wonderful book which made me change what I was going to do on Poetry Box this week. I read A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic 2013) and got caught up in another time. Melinda wrote the story of her father and his family when he was twelve. They had been forced to leave Poland and go and work in a Russian labour camp round about the time World War II was starting. They had to leave behind almost everything and live in a place that was tough, freezing and had hardly any food. Melinda used her father’s notebooks to help write the story. I loved the way this children’s novel opened a window wider on time when terrible things were happening in the world (unfortunately they still are).

So I thought it would be really great to set a challenge that involved two things: memory and our grandparents or our parents. It is time to go hunting for their memories and turn them into little poems (see below).

This week on NZ Poetry Box it’s all about memory. On Monday I will set you a memory challenge, on Tuesday I will give you some sizzling memory-poem tips and starting points, on Wednesday it is time for poetry play so we will think backwards, on Thursday I am posting an interview with one of my favourite children’s poets, Peter Bland, and on Friday I want to play with CAPITAL letters.

The Poetry Challenge:   

I challenge you to ask an older relation (Mum or Dad or Nana or Granddad) about a memory they have from their childhood. It might be something that happened to them and it might be funny or sad or exciting or interesting. It might be a memory that shows how things were different when they were young. This challenge can come through a school, a writing group or an individual child. I am excited!

It might help to write down words as your relative shares their memory. You could visit them or telephone them or write them a letter or email them. You might have to ask them questions to get them to talk more about their memory.

You have until June 13th (nearly three weeks) to do this challenge, because I am really excited about it (I want to do this challenge!)!

I will give you tips, and starting points during the week (especially tomorrow.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email address if you like. This is of course also open to home-schooled children.

There are two prizes. An older child (up to Year 8 or 9) will get a copy of A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik published by Scholastic NZ in 2013.

A younger child will get a copy of The Song of the Ship Rat (2013) by the fabulous Ben Brown and Helen Taylor thanks to Scholastic NZ. This book, with Helen’s gorgeous illustrations and Ben’s sizzling words, is full of the memories of a rat at sea.