Monthly Archives: June 2015


According to the latest research, poor children – especially boys – are falling behind in reading and writing, which is stunting their progress at school and harming their life prospects.

The report from the “Read On, Get On” campaign says that 4 out of 10 of England’s poorest boys start school without the language skills needed to learn. So what are we doing to bring enrichment, excitement and a love of reading into our classrooms?

My plea is that children, rather than being swamped with ‘literacy’, phonic exercises and spelling tests, should be engaged, enthused and inspired by stories, wow facts, the excitement of language and be allowed to fire their imaginations like never before. This is hardly rocket science, but only by exposing children to the power of books via inspirational storytelling and fascinating information, can we expect the reading bug to be caught. Yes, infection by inspiration was once the norm – so where has it gone?

If education is losing the importance of play, creativity and nurturing imaginations (as I fear it is), we not only risk a decline in reading standards but also hasten the narrowing of minds. At a time when we fear radicalisation and fundamentalism, isn’t it even more necessary to open minds, develop empathy and foster tolerance? Surprise, surprise… books have a considerable track record of doing just that. I dare to suggest a well-read, broadminded and empathetic terrorist is something of a contradiction in terms (or, for any literacy fundamentalist watching, let’s call it an oxymoron and tick another box of prescribed terms covered).

Did you know?

There is strong evidence that reading for pleasure can increase empathy, improve relationships with others, reduce the symptoms of depression and the risk of dementia, and improve wellbeing throughout life, new research carried out for The Reading Agency has found. For more on this, click HERE.  I told you READING MATTERS!


Shshshsh… it’s a secret

Don’t tell anyone but I have some new adventure fiction just out – quick reads that pack a punch (more thrills, fewer words). Here’s  a quick peep at a couple of covers of these latest ‘white knuckle’ reads in a brand new series called BREAKOUTS from Ransom. Click on the Ransom logo to find out more:

Breakouts covers.qxp_Layout 1      Breakouts covers.qxp_Layout 1

These books feature in some of my presentations so they might be coming to ‘a school near you’ anytime soon.

BREAKOUTS: more thrills – fewer words. A brand new series of quick reads; fast & furious escapes against the odds. Oh yes, they’ve also got incredible real-life facts as an extra bonus!

Shshsh – it’s even more of a secret – so don’t tell a soul (apart from any passing librarian)… my THIRD book in the Breakouts Series arrives in 2016. Although I’m sworn to secrecy, I can tell you STRANGERS ON A PLANE will be nose-diving towards a library near you in the New Year – so hold on tight for a turbulent read…

In case you’re interested… I’m now taking bookings for 2016 (World Book Day & Science Week in March are already booked). Do get in touch or contact my agent at  You might just dare to ask about SCARY OR WHAT? Warning: this presentation might stop you sleeping… in the library:-

😯 I DON’T WANT TO ALARM YOU BUT…    WAKE UP! Alarming secrets to make your knees knock (or possibly explode) You have been warned! 🙄 

For more information on my books click HERE or author events HERE


Never Odd Or Even


Thanks to everyone who wrote reviews of my book for the Nottingham Brilliant Book Awards. Here are a few:-

I think this book was different and clever. I think at the end you sort of understand why it is called “never odd or even” The school bully Victor always called Eliot odd but in the end they were even for what they did!!!! I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something that makes you think or if you what to read something different.

Claire – Ockbrook School

I absolutely loved Never Odd or Even – the font was spacey and big, making it a quick and easy book to read. I really loved the story line, as it was really interesting and fantastic. Moreover, I loved the anagrams as they gave you a challenge whilst you were reading.

Corey – Chilwell School

I really liked this book, so much that I found that I was reading it all the time. I think this book will be good for people who like mysteries and working out words and maths. I really like it as at the end Eliot gets his revenge. When you read this book you will read every page of it over and over again! I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone else who wants to read it.

Erin – John Port School

A bully and a genius collide, and everyone knows what happens then. A fantastic novel that traps your mind within the story line and forces it to do its biding. And its biding is; tell everyone how amazing it is. If you can put this book down, then you are not reading it properly for I and all my friends couldn’t. Thank you John Townsend and never stop writing.

Keelan – Chilwell School

Wow! That’s all I can really say! The book is not very long, but every page makes more sense, trust me. The end is shocking. Pick it up, and don’t put it down until you’re finished!

Matthew – Bramcote Park Business & Enterprise School


Testing Times

The beauty of a blog is that it gives an opportunity for a little rant now and again. It won’t change the world, of course – but a little healthy debate never did any harm. So I begin with a little ditty I offer on my concern for the current ‘educational experiment’. I guess it’s only a matter of time before we wake up to the nonsense of constantly seeking to quantify learning with simplistic and meaningless measurements. After all, if we only value those things which are seemingly measurable, what hope is there? Someone will doubtless come up with league tables for creativity, inspiration and even love – then we’d really have the human condition nailed!

The Proof

When I was born, the midwife smiled and weighed me on the scales.

She measured me from head to toe and wrote down all details.

“Now here’s the proof – we’ve got the truth; assessment never fails.”


When I was two, the doctor smiled and measured pulse and heart.

He wrote down numbers on a pad and drew lines on a chart.

“Now here’s the truth – we’ve got the proof; assessment is an art.”


When I was five and went to school, they tested us each day.

They noted sums I couldn’t do and words I couldn’t say.

Now here’s the proof, we’ve got the truth; assessment shows the way.’


When I moved up from primary school, each week we were assessed.

They set us targets, made us stressed… then set another test.

They found the truth, they had the proof; assessment is the best.


They printed spread-sheets every term to prove my work was poor.

Computers analysed results in IQ tests, and more.

They found the truth, they had the proof; assessment gives a score.


The world now measures proof and truth – with vigour and great rigour;

As education makes the grade, each child becomes a figure.

But… however much you weigh a pig, you’ll make it grow no bigger.


When I expired, I went above to meet with my Creator,

Who smiled and said, “I’ll let you in, and then a little later

I’ll show you hell – that burns so well… from all that flaming data!”