All posts by tompalmer

At last… a rugby magazine for kids!

This is the new rugby union magazine for kids. And it’s good.

We have three kids’ fiction series about rugby now: Rugby Spirit, Rugby Zombies and Rugby Academy.  There are lots of good rugby non-fiction books for children too, most of them about playing the game.

Now there’s a magazine. Trytime.  I recommend it to families, schools and libraries.  There are five or six football magazines for kids. There needed to be a rugby one.

Here it is…


You can buy single copies or subscribe for a year here.

If you know young rugby union fans please give it a go.

Contents include:

  • a Premiership season preview
  • top trump style players cards – to collect
  • posters of players and teams
  • a girls’ rugby section
  • facts and stats
  • nutritional advice
  • and more…


Setting a story in an Iron Age Fort

This summer I visited an Iron Age fort in Cornwall. I wanted to find out what one might look like. And I had a good reason: I am going to write a book set on an Iron Age fort.


This is Castle an Dinas at Columb St Major in Cornwall.

You might not think it looks much like a fort, but it was built roughly 4000 years ago, so it is going to have weathered a bit. That’s because it was built out of ramparts of soil and with wooden posts along the tops. All the wooden posts have rotted away now, but the three rings of ditches and raised ramparts are still really visible. You can see if from above here:

Visiting a place like this is realy important to help me get a story right. By going there I found out it was huge. The middle section is as big as a football pitch. I also saw that a farmer uses it to graze his or her sheep on. Who would have thought an ancient monument would be covered in sheep? But, actually it’s a good idea. What better way to keep the grass short? It would be quite hard to mow.

When I got home I had a look at a book I have about the Iron Age. I’ve made a short video about the book and how it helped me. You can watch that here:

This autumn I am going to visit more historic sites to explain how it helps me to write. To find out more you could read this blog:

Thanks for reading.

Researching and writing KS2 history stories this autumn

This autumn I will write three short novels for children. They will be a blend of football, ghost fear and history. KS2 history to be precise. To be published by Barrington Stoke in 2017.

The very rough idea is that a girl (Nadiya) and boy (Seth) discover football-related hauntings and have to use their knowledge of KS2 history to stop the hauntings causing havoc in local communities.

The three periods covered in the trilogy will be the Iron Age, the Romans and the Anglo Saxons/Vikings.


This all means lots of research around those subjects. And planning. Which is good. I get around the country a lot visiting schools. I love research. And I love planning.

Now – informed by this awesome map – I will be dropping in on some amazing historical sites to help me do just that.

For instance, as you can see below, last week I went to a massive Iron Age fort in Cornwall. (More about this in the next blog.)


I am hoping to do some short films from some of the sites. Also, if schools want to comment on my research and planning, I’d be delighted. I will be covering Iron Age, Romans, Saxons and Vikings from now until December.

Thanks for reading.


Somme Centenary in Schools

This Friday – July 1st – sees the centenary anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. It will be covered live on the BBC on the day, during school time. You can read about the BBC’s schedule here.

I have been working with the National Literacy Trust and Barrington Stoke to create a range of resources for schools to use to help today’s children get their heads round what happened in France one hundred years ago.

I’ve done it because I have a book out about a group of footballers who fought at the Battle of the Somme, called Over the Line. But also because I think it is important for children today to know about the bloodiest battle of the First World War.

OTL-new cover

You can access the following resources via the links below:


Live Somme-based story

Over the last fortnight I have been writing a daily story ‘live’ on the National Literacy Trust website. It is partly about Euro 2016 and partly about the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. In its third and final week, beginning on Monday 27th June, the characters, who are year seven children, will be going on a Battlefield Tour of the Somme area with their schools, visiting war graves, battle sites and the official centenary commemoration at Thiepval. I have talked with three schools who have been on Battlefield Tours recently to try my best to get it right.


Videos from major Battle of the Somme sites

After finishing Over the Line, I revisited the settings of the book to talk about how each place had impacted my writing. Those settings include the English Channel, a soldier footballer’s grave, the Footballers’ Battalion official memorial and Delville Wood. They are also settings featured in this week’s live story.


Toolkit of School Resources

Our EURO 2016 toolkit also includes ideas for Somme related classroom displays, activities and assemblies to mark Centenary. It was published by the National Literacy Trust in May.


Other free resources relating to Over the Line

You can access free posters relating to the book here, as well as a discussion guide to the main themes and short classroom play scripts drawn from the novel. You can find all these resources at or via


I hope these resources are useful. Thanks for reading.