No One Can Pick Just One!--Inside the Kidlit Studio with Bernard K. Mensah
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
After a summer of self-care for the three folks behind Inside the KidLit Studio, we have returned--and with a new name to put on your radar!
If you haven’t visited Bernard K. Mensah’s website yet, stop reading this right now. I’m serious! Click on this link and have a gander at one of the most colorful, dynamic, intriguing homepages of all time.
Done it? Good. Now let’s talk about the person behind the page.
Bernard lives in Belper, a village in the UK, but he grew up in West Africa--Ghana, to be specific. He’s got a self-described “wild imagination,” and his self-published debut, Rambunctious Kwame and the Case of the Missing Birthday Banku, is available now for free on Kindle. And you can find his second book, The Rainy Day Zoo, on the beautiful website you just saw.
This new face to KidLit enjoyed our crazy questionnaire, and we enjoyed reading his answers--where much of the time, he couldn’t pick just one. And thank goodness he didn't; his double answers make for twice the enjoyment.
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A difficult question! I started writing with a dream of bringing Ghanaian and African
stories to a global audience for the sake of my children and others like them. I want to
provide a mirror for those kids and a window for others to see, understand, and
experience our rich culture and history in storytelling. I am proud of the fact that I
have some exciting traditional publishing news that I hope to be able to share soon!!
I’m excited that publishers are more open to stories that center very different
I also have a great passion for providing quality and accessible literature, especially to
Ghanaian children. As a result, I cofounded an imprint, Haberman+Nerds to find fellow
African storytellers and illustrators and to train up-and-coming African creatives
where I can. I’m not an expert, but I believe strongly in sharing what little I know to
uplift people! My second self-published picture book launched as a limited edition
hardcover edition on Kickstarter in June. We will also launch a special competitively-
priced edition solely for the Ghanaian market in August. This is our mission, to price
our books, not for profit but for accessibility.
So in a very roundabout way, my greatest achievement is my kids, because, without
them, I wouldn’t be doing any of this! I wouldn’t have the passion, drive, and be looking
for the opportunities I am now to increase African and Ghanaian representation in
literature. They keep me going when things are difficult and believe me, things do get
2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Ooh good question. I love food and my kids. I think the perfect situation would be to
have unlimited access to all the different cuisines I love (Japanese is a very close second
to Ghanaian food) and to be able to create and write without the pressures of modern
life. Preferably on a beach with perpetual sunshine with the kids splashing about in the
water. All I need is a replicator and a magic wand I think to make it happen!
3. What is your most treasured possession?
Going to sound really geeky, but my computer. I am tied at the hip to it--it’s my
conduit to multiple worlds when I write. It’s my diary when I need to journal and it’s
how I make money to pay the bills in the real world as a Software Engineering Manager.
4. What is it you most dislike?
Willful ignorance and close-mindedness. My parents brought me up as a global child.
We traveled quite a bit and, through that, I gained great respect for different cultures
and viewpoints. I try to bring my children up the same way, even though we don’t get to
travel as much as I would love to. What I find quite disconcerting, especially in the age
of internet access, is adults who refuse to engage with readily-available information so
they can make informed decisions and opinions.
5. What is your greatest extravagance?
My speaker system. I am a secret audiophile and I have been known to spend quite a bit
(for me) on getting the perfect system for music and tv. I play music almost every day
in the evening and there are fewer greater pleasures than listening to a superb
reproduction of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and hearing the individual, subtle
guitar strums and the soft pauses as he sings. Magical!
6. Which talent would you most like to have?
DIY! I am utterly hopeless. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely prefer to have
an expert do things. I have nightmares of the house falling down around me because I
botched something up!
7. Where would you like to live?
Japan! It’s my spiritual home. I love the richness and variety in the cuisine and the utter
predictability of life juxtaposed with the different experiences you can have there. The
trains run to military precision, they are so prompt you can set your watch by them! At
the same time, every area is different in its cuisine and mannerisms. I’ve been there a
few times, and every time I am amazed at the different flavors and experiences you can
8. What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty and loyalty. I am not the best at keeping in touch, so my real friends know that
even though I don’t check in every five minutes, I will have their backs regardless of
what is going on. Pick up the phone, send me a message--whatever works--and I will
9. What's the weirdest thing about you (that you're willing to share)?
Well, I don’t know if it’s weird, but my brain works like a comic reel 24/7, with
commentary. Sometimes, it’s funny commentary, too, so someone might see a smile on
my face, and I’m chuckling at the commentary on something that happened probably a
few days ago!
10. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
My dad used to be a fighter pilot; I would love to try my hand at that! Or perhaps a
11. Which living person do you most admire?
Going to cheat and choose two :). Jason Reynolds for his unique perspective in his
stories and his wisdom. Every time I hear him speak, I come away inspired and with
the energy to do my bit to change publishing any way I can! And Nnedi Okorafor for her
consistent flying of the flag of African literature. She is a great inspiration for me and
her work is spectacular. I highly recommend Ikenga as an excellent middle-grade
introduction to her body of work!
12. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction?
Going to cheat here too, sorry! Deadpool and StarLord--both smart alecks with a great
sense of humor. I aspire to be as good with comebacks as they are!
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Get myself back into martial arts shape. I was a black belt in several martial arts a few
years ago. Kids, old age, and my knees not being what they used to be have made that
pretty much impossible. Can I get robot knees, please?
14. What is the favorite book of your childhood?
Anything written by Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie.
15. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be KidLit.)
Lots of really great books to be honest! But The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi
Adeyemi is a firm favorite, followed by Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alson, and
in the early reader space, Unicorn and Yeti by my friend Heather Ayris Burnell is
More about Bernard:
Bernard's website (which you better already be familiar with!): https://www.booksbybernardkmensah.co.uk/
Bernard's Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/bernardkmensah