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


BLAZING JUNE – coming this summer…

Once upon a time, growing up was fraught with danger. The Speckled Monster was forever skulking in the darkness. Its victims never knew when or where it would attack next. Everyone feared its curse… until 10-year-old Cephas Catchpole discovered a special power over the biggest killer in the history of mankind. His story comes in two darkly Gothic Volumes.

The first is about to emerge from the sinister and skulduggerous underworld of early 19th Century London. Miss it at your peril.

Volume Two comes close on its heels- with more than ‘something of the night’ about its gruesome twists and turns. WARNING – never let your granny see these books.

“A Dickens of a Twisted Tale”   Betsey Trotwood                “More twists than a twisty yarn with an extra twist”  Knitting Weekly “More twistery than a hangman’s rope”   The Executioner Times

‘Ignorance, like disease, can only be conquered by the tireless endeavours of the wise. If we are any less ignorant, more civilised or healthier now than in the past, we have education, science and books to thank. All three are as vital today to the future of civilisation… and to slaying the monsters that curse, scare, divide and threaten us.’   Edith Catchpole in ‘The Twist of the Hangman’

A story to celebrate the 70th birthday of the National Health Service, Oliver Twist’s 180th birthday & James Phipps’s 230th birthday, and the great Edward Jenner’s 270th birthday next year! Ah yes, and the imminent 40th birthday of slaying the speckled monster once and for all.

Thanks to North Somerset for this review – click on the cover below

MAY the fourth be with you…

Yes, 4th May seems as good a date as any to announce the count-down to Truly Foul and Cheesy SPACE Facts and Jokes coming to a galaxy near you later this yearso get ready for blast off…

“A book you can’t put down”  Zero-Gravity Times

“Out of this world”  Astronomer Weekly

“It boldly goes where no book has gone before” Stella Bella

Look out for the BOOK LAUNCH 😛 

And thank you to North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for longlisting TICKLING WITH WORDS

Just click on the cover to find out more or HERE for a video clip

WHAT THEY SAY… ‘Founded by the ‘Just About Books’ teachers’ book group, the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award was born out of a desire to celebrate the very best in children’s literature. Love it or hate it, poetry is an essential part of a child’s literary diet. Children need a range of poems that are accessible and they can engage with in a variety of ways and on different levels. We would love to find a collection by one or many poets that offers a whole spectrum of styles and topics’. Now they have – in a great line-up of poetry books. Happy tickling with words, Somerset!



Yay – it’s SUMMER TERM in the UK! The book world is buzzing with book fairs, new book catalogues and yes, BRAND NEW BOOKS.   Take a peek at my new series ‘BEASTLY SCIENCE’ – now out there and waiting for you to be enthralled…

Guess what – TICKLING WITH WORDS is going to have a new member of the family. Get ready for the whole of British history PICKLED IN RHYMES with Steph Murphy’s fab illustrations in the forthcoming PICKLING with WORDS jacket, Pickling With Words


On the MARCH

World Book Week began with a bang at Exeter School, where everyone was buzzing with books. What a warm welcome on such a cold day… as the snow began to fall. Unfortunately, the rest of the week was not so much a write-off as a white-off – so big apologies to all the other schools expecting visits. But hey-ho, the snow has now melted, Storm Emma has blown away and it’s back on the road to make up for lost time. With rescheduled visits and lots of schools booked for Science Week, it’s great to be catching up with old friends in familair schools and meeting new readers of ‘Beastly Science’ and other latest titles. See you soon!

                                      Telling Tales at Exeter School

Ooooh, I’ve just been reminded that this month is my 35th birthday! Not that anyone’s remotely interested, but I’ve now been publishing books every year since March 1983. Blimey!

COMING SOON a batty picture book to keep you on your toes…

Science Week in Essex (this was Great Baddow High School) was sizzling again and it was great to return to the ever-delightful Sweyne Park High School, as well as talk to the whole of year 7 at Beauchamps High School. Mystery Creatures were on the menu at Alderton Primary’s Book Week, then it was off to the fabulous Imperial Avenue Infants School in Leicester for a fantastic end of term WOW!


Funny February

More giggles on the way this year…

Plenty more FOUL FACTS & CHEESY JOKES books are taking shape and these will be hot off the press in May. Others (titles are still TOP SECRET) will be hitting the shelves later in the year. Brace yourself…

Truly Foul & Cheesy Scotland Facts and Jokes Book by John Townsend and David Antram    Truly Foul and Cheesy William Shakespeare Facts and Jokes Book by John Townsend and David Antram