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Shifty and Sam go to School: a guest post by Tracey Corderoy

Posted on Jul 15, 2016

shiftyThe third installment of reformed criminals Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam’s adventures, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: the Diamond Chase (Nosy Crow) is finally upon us and what a hoot it is. The cheeky duo have swapped their life of crime for a life of baking in their café but this time they have been invited to a bake at a swanky party in Lady Kate’s very push country estate. But as the party gets underway, she makes a shocking discovery: her diamond tiara has been stolen! But never fear, our two favourite patissiers have a knack for solving crime.
There is something compellingly joyous about this series, which makes it such a delight to read aloud. Tracey Corderoy’s rhyming text is always full of bounce and just enough dramatic twits and pauses to make it exciting, setting the scene for Steven Lenton’s delightfully boisterous anthropomorphic characters. His artwork manages to convey comical frenetic action with a comforting and safe atmosphere, thanks to his soft colouring and animation-like drawings. It is the perfect sleuth series for tiny budding detectives, with mystery, a pinch of menace and plenty of merriment pitched just right. The series now also includes some early reader fiction books, the first being The Spooky School, offering fans a new format as they grow confidence in reading.

I am delighted to welcome Tracey to Library Mice as part of the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: the Diamond Chase blog tour to talk about her fabulous school visits, which I know some local schools here in North Somerset have been lucky enough to enjoy!

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Shifty and Sam go to School!
by Tracey Corderoy

Tracey and Steve

 

I am lucky – I was once a teacher and it has given me a few skills I can now call upon when I visit schools. For me, it’s so great to be back in the classroom, doing the thing I used to love most when I was a teacher; sharing stories – and now they are EVEN my ones!

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So I very much enjoy doing school visits. I find them great fun – exhausting, but wonderful too! And their benefits are certainly two-fold. Obvious benefits for the children, but certainly benefits for me as a writer too.

You know what harsh critics children are. They speak their mind. They spot inconsistencies, and they’re not afraid to say what doesn’t work – and what ISN’T funny. Children are astute. Children are clever, and I value their opinions very much. It’s only when I’m out there reading my books to ‘real’ children do I see which bits really work. And which don’t.

Another thing I like about being in school is the opportunity it gives me to perform. Picture books are performance pieces and putting on a show is colourful and exciting. When I perform all of my stories – including my 3 Shifty McGifty ones, I use props…

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…do craft with the children…

 

…and make the space I’m using attractive by decorating it with balloons and bunting!

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And I always perform the stories, making it a real show. So I make sure the children can see all the pictures on a big screen…

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…involve them in the story-telling, stopping at moments to let them finish the rhyme, and we also play fun games and dress up too.

I perform with as much joy and colour as I can!

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When I was a child I didn’t have many books of my own, but I always had a fierce love of ‘story’. Now I want to inspire children so that they have this love too.

School visits, done well, offer children (who might never otherwise meet an author/illustrator) the chance to go on journeys together. Wonderful journeys, full of colour – and magic – where impossible things can happen! School visits take children out of the mundane, and into the colourful world of their imagination.

The children I work with inspire me so much. They wow me with their ideas. And hopefully I inspire them too. I was in a school the other day, having just performed to a group of Reception children, when their teacher said, “Oh, they’ve just told me – they’re off out to play Shifty and Sam!” I couldn’t have heard anything more wonderful. Children actually ‘being’ my characters. I felt so proud!

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Shifty, Sam, Kitty – and little Sidney now too…

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…have lots (and lots!) more school events lined up for the remainder of the year. And some in the diary for 2017 and 2018 too!

So if you see us in some railway station with my BIG brown props’ bag (looking up a HUGE flight of stairs), feel free to grab a handle and we’ll negotiate those stairs together.

If only Sam didn’t eat SO many doughnuts. Bless him!

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Thank you so much, Tracey!

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