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Two new FOUL & CHEESY history titles out this month…

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For British Science Week, schools in Essex were up to all sorts and it was good to be back in the county visiting familiar secondary schools again. Plenty of primary schools joined us, too – for weird and wacky Animal Science.

Where sensational science and horrendous history meet:

Reviews at TOPPSTA: ‘Dalrymple and Cutpurse are petty criminals by day but by night their illegal activity takes a far nastier turn as they dig up fresh corpses to sell to doctors for medical research. A word of warning: some of the grisly descriptions of hanging and primitive medical experiments might be too much for squeamish readers. The story is told with brilliantly atmospheric historical details, giving the book a vivid sense of time and place. I also enjoyed the non-linear narrative; discovering Cephas’s story out of sequence added to the suspense’.  (Sam’s Mommy)


MARCH is always a busy month, with lots happening in the world of books. Not only are authors hopping from school to school for World Book Week, but also we’re zooming around for Science Week. I look forward to popping into some familiar friendly school libraries this month. I may even check out how many of my TRULY FOUL FACTS & CHEESY JOKES books are on the shelves – now over 20 crazy titles. How many have YOU seen?

New titles are out this month in this series – as well as later this year in the USA (called TOTALLY GROSS & AWESOME)

Meanwhile, back in rural Worcestershire… GOOD LUCK to Pendock Primary School and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust with their Hardwick Meadows Project and my script for their summer show: WHERE THE MEADOWS FLOWER

As if further proof were needed, the latest findings this month of Nielsen Book Research demonstrates the erosion of storytime for older children – which should surely be a vital part of every school day. Don’t ALL children need to hear stories regularly?

Apparently, only 32% of British children under 13 are read to daily by an adult, for pleasure, down four percentage points on the previous year, and nine percentage points down on 2012.

A second major survey of 27,000 children and young people, carried out by the National Literacy Trust ahead of World Book Day, found the number of 8 – 18-year-olds reading for pleasure has now dropped to nearly half, with only a quarter reading daily, compared with 43% in 2015.

Publisher Egmont, which co-funded the Nielsen research, said that the steep decline in parents reading to children “signals a significant threat to children’s wellbeing, with potential longer-term social impact”.

Fab Feb

Despite all the snow, it’s great to be at the seaside! What better way to spend a freezing winter’s morning than at Brixham in Devon? A warm welcome awaited at Brixham Primary School – despite a WW2 bomb having just been fished out of the sea so what a dramatic visit! Here’s what they said…

This week we were very pleased to welcome John Townsend into our school. He worked with all the children in KS2, sharing stories and making us laugh too. As a follow up, 15 boys were invited to join him in a workshop where they explored a story starter and built their ideas from there. The children in Years 5 and 6 followed this up by writing a short story of their own, in the style of John Townsend. All children were keen to write and thoroughly enjoyed the session, confidently sharing their ideas and snippets of their work.

“He made writing and reading fun!” (Alfie Y6) “Writing is not just about sitting there – it’s about doing things!” (Sam Y6) “It was inspiring – in the workshop he was more interactive – we gave him ideas.” (Marshall Y6) “He helped me to carry on my sentence and he gave me ideas.” (Jenson Y5) “He made me want to write books.” (Polly Y5) “He helped me get my ideas down.” (Joshua Y5) “He inspired me to read more of his books.” (Eva Y5) “It made me more interested in writing.” (Olly Y5)

Pssst – here’s a secret – you gave me lots of FAB FEB ideas, too. And what’s more, we didn’t even mention frontal adverbials. Being Brixham, we had to mention fish and animals… with a little hint of what’s to come later this year to cause quite a stink…


KEEP A LOOK OUT (and the occasional sniff) for this new book in AUGUST!


What better way to shake off the winter gloom than with a shiny new book for a shiny new 2019? Fascinating facts (with a dollop of gross) and cheesy chuckles will be coming you way soon…

2019 sees the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 2

Later this month look out for the next in my ‘Life-Sized’ series – you’ll be ITCHING to read about lovely BUGS!


Happy New Year to creepy crawlies everywhere!

‘Tis the season to be CHEESY

It’s here – just in time for Christmas!

Truly Foul & Cheesy Christmas Facts and Jokes Book

All you ever wanted to know about the delights and horrors of the festive season (including sprouts).

It’s a fact-packed information book with plenty of cheesy giggles – maybe enough to give you Christougenniatikophobia (a FOUL fear of Christmas), especially with the disgusting original recipe for mince pies and some of the revolting customs from around the world. With puns, poems, peculiar passages, playful pictures & panto paraphernalia, as well as a QUIZ, there’s lots here to entertain everyone when the TV packs up. HAPPY CHRISTMAS READING! 😆 🙄 😀  

Available HERE

Happy pantomime season, too… guess who this is!


1918 – 2018

Image result for john townsend the secret message

HENRY’S REVIEW (2018): ‘It was amazing!’

This was so surprising. Actually, it wasn’t – as my wife has been badgering me to read it for a while. She originally got it out of the library for my daughter to read to help introduce her to WW1, but this is by no means a book for children only.

My daughter initially rejected it, but after my wife read it, she insisted that both of us read it. My daughter enjoyed it, saying she loves the story and finally I’ve read it. It made me cry, which has only been achieved by 2 previous books in my life and therefore I’ve given it a well deserved 5 stars and will be looking up the theatrical version.

To go into greater detail without revealing too much of the story, a young boy discovers a small suitcase belonging to his great, great grandfather who happens to bear a striking resemblance to him. The case is locked and his father has to force the lock. Inside there is a book that reveals his ancestor’s experience just prior and during the war and some of it is coded, which the reader has to get actively involved with. At this point I will stop and urge you to read it and force your 9-11 year old to read it too.’

Thank you, Henry!

In Flanders fields, where poppies danced,
The sodden soldiers scarce advanced
From stinking trenches under fire
Past corpses in the razor wire...
No more the stench of deathly mud
Drifts over all those fields of blood...
No more the mire where jackboot treads;
While still the poppies bow their heads.
from my Pickling with Words


Yes, the season of book festivals and National Poetry Day is swirling with words… just like autumn leaves. So, if you’re still looking for a quick verse for Poetry Day, just click on TICKLING WITH WORDS.

October has already been buzzing with all sorts. What fun we had at the Appledore Book Festival and what a delight it’s been to be whisked around the lanes of North Devon to run workshops at wow schools. How’s this for a list of visits? Lovely Lynton Primary, Paradisiacal Parracombe Primary, Beautiful Berrynarbour Primary, Illustrious Ilfracombe Academy, Wonderful West Down Primary, Noteworthy Northam St. Margaret’s and Sensational South Molton Community College. It was geat to meet you all and a huge thanks for such warm welcomes.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic some new editions are emerging. Click on the cover of NEVER ODD OR EVEN for details of the new US version. Or click HERE for some of my other titles in the USA.

And get ready America for the BIG celebrations in 2020 for MAYFLOWER 400 – and my little book coming soon. After all, books and festivals are just made for each other. Happy October-fest!






Back to school with a BUZZ

Autumn is busily buzzy – not just for schools but for insects! You probably tried to escape from a few over the summer, while I was tracking them down for my next ‘Life-Sized’ book. BUGS comes out early next year, with one creature being so big it needs an extra pull-out page. Clue: it’s not technically a bug, nor an insect and it doesn’t buzz but it’s hairy. No, it’s not a gorilla because it has several legs, a few eyes and you won’t spot it on the cover, either. It’s even bigger than the Titan Beetle below…   Any idea?  Answer coming soon!


PICKLING WITH WORDS is now just published – a rhyming romp through the history of Britain (from Stone Age to Brexit)…

The moral’s clear in all this verse:                                  If now seems bad, the past was worse!

Pickling with Words

CLICK HERE for a review of GRAVEROBBERS AND GALLOWS. Its sequel THE TWIST OF THE HANGMAN is now out and waiting for you to order – just click on the covers…










Congratulations to The Sweyne Park School for their well-deserved READING FOR PLEASURE AWARD, which I shall be delighted to polish on my next visit to the splendid library.  Well done!

August Silly Season

It’s always Silly Season here at Townsend Towers, with yet more silly, cheesy and giggly things afoot while schools chill-out for a scorching summer (unless you’re reading this in Australia where it may be a scorching winter – so why not chill out with some of my Australian editions? and they’re here, too)  

So here’s a silly question as a starter. Who is the character from history who connects my two new new books ‘Pickling with Words‘ & ‘Graverobbers and Gallows‘?  Here’s a clue from the first title, with its comic verse called James and the Giant Itch (click on the pic to cheat) Take a look at a READING ZONE FEATURE here

Review from PARENTS IN TOUCH:  ‘The harshness of life in Victorian England (although technically Georgian!) is brought to life in this gripping and atmospheric novel by a master storyteller who really has the era captured perfectly. Orphan Cephas Catchpole is apprenticed as a chimney sweep to a cruel master – one of the worst ways of life Victorian children experienced. But things get even worse when Cephas is drawn into the underworld and mysteries about murder, parentage and the dreaded smallpox. The story will have readers avid for more as they are drawn in to the excitement, mystery and danger. It’s perfect to enthuse children for the period. Look out for Book Two!’

jacket, Pickling With Words

Summertime and the living is CHEESY

Yes, it’s July and new batches of FOUL FACTS and CHEESY JOKES are hatching over the summer… to bring gasps, chuckles and more cheesiness than a Cheesy Wotsit 

Look out for some of these in the Autumn



But now out this month for your summer reading – it’s here at last to mark the 70th Birthday of the NHS! Click on the cover of The Curse of the Speckled Monster: Graverobbers & Gallows to find out just what all the fuss is about. Brace yourself…

Find out more about this book at READING ZONE by clicking HERE