I have to admit that even though I am 55 years old, I derive great pleasure the world of Children’s books. To me they represent a genre that is often overlooked. A picture book, when done well is far more than five minutes of bedtime story for a toddler. It is a valuable learning tool.

Townie has produced such a book. Oh, and I am going to let you into a secret, Townie is not his real name! I know that you will be shocked by this revelation, but Townie is actually a gentleman by the name of Stephen Townsend (But don’t don’t tell anyone, I promised to keep it a secret, I trust my readers to keep quiet about it). I can trust you, can’t I?

Along Came Ziro is an interesting book, and one that will engage the young. They have brains like sponges, and more questions than the Spanish Inquisition. Why, How, When, are staples. Parents proudly talk about the first word that their child says, Mama, Papa being the prime candidates. But it soon balloons into the joys of why, when, and how.

Inquisitive minds are insatiable.

Townie has taken a rather bold move in Along Came Ziro, it is a book that likely will cause more questions than answers. His characters are farmyard animals and an inquisitive alien named Ziro.

Townie created both the text and the illustrations, this believe it or not is a bit of a rarity. The illustrations are worthy of some discussion. He uses a very minimalistic yet stylistic approach, simple shapes form the characters and a bright color pallet completes them.

I mean no disrespect by this statement, but if I was asked to describe the illustration style I would call it ‘South Park For Pre Readers’.

The text is done in a simple rhyming style and it has been carefully crafted. It is actually quite a challenge to write in this style and maintain a simple vocabulary. There is also another unique feature, in the text, and I am not sure if it was by chance or design, but I certainly give it high marks. Most of the text is black letters on a white background, however when the word corresponds to a sound Townie jumps into what looks suspiciously like Microsoft Word Art.


I think this is a great idea, a parent could use this as a visual clue to ask the child to mimic the sound.

Townie has also created a wonderful web site Alongcameziro.com that any pre-reader will enjoy a great deal, not only is the entire book available online for the low low price of FREE, it also has a section where kids can create their own characters. Again I see this as a great learning tool, honing motor skills, creative arts, and critical thinking. Or in plain English, just darn fun!

I admire authors that embrace the ‘try before you buy’ mentality, to me it shows that they have belief in their product, and are more concerned with offering tools rather than looking for monetary gain.

The book itself is produced in a sturdy hardcover, and the pages high gloss heavy duty paper. This is a book that can withstand the rigors of life in those little hands!

You can order you copy of Along Came Ziro from Amazon by using the link above.

I am also going to be getting back in touch with Townie in the hope that I can lure him into doing an interview. I think I know the way to do it:

There was a hum and a whir
and then finally a clunk!
Then out popped a Simon
landing with a plunk!

Townie and Simon
just stared for a while.
Do an interview,
Simon said with a smile.

I will let you all know if this tactic works!

Simon Barrett

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