Shifty McGifty on Bookaboo!

Here is a clip of Bruce Greenwood reading 'Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam - The Cat Burglar' on the new series of Bookaboo, now available on Amazon Prime.

The animations are simply brilliant, and the way he brings the characters to life is superb!

Window dressing!

Waterstones in Cheltenham

Cheltenham was full of decorated pianos!

Cheltenham was full of decorated pianos!

Thanks Barbara, Jo & Amanda for the amazing cakes!

Thanks Barbara, Jo & Amanda for the amazing cakes!

Steven Lenton and I were delighted to be asked by Cheltenham Children's Literature Festival and Waterstones Cheltenham to decorate a window in the store as part of the launch of this year's Festival.

The plan was simple... 

I'd be in the shop reading from the first book in our recently launched young fiction series, 'Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam - The Spooky School' and from the latest picture book 'The Diamond Chase' featuring the baking / crime-solving duo. In addition, I'd be helping the children (with help from the brilliant staff at Waterstones too) to make sparkly bats that would feature in ...

              ... the wonderful window display that Steve was going to create! He'd prepared decals, backdrops and figures to use, and had sent these in advance to the shop. So all we needed was Steve, a simple plan. What could go wrong? 

Well what could go wrong was a problem with the trains. ALL of them! No trains were leaving Paddington that morning leaving Steve stranded on the platform with thousands of other travellers, and it was looking like the window display might be down to me.

Now, whilst I'm not afraid to dress a room in the privacy of my own home, the idea of having to inflict my non-existent window-dressing skills on the population of Cheltenham was not appealing!

Fortunately, there was one very crowded train that managed to escape from Paddington over two hours late, and my husband was able to intercept Steve at Swindon and whisk (excuse the pun!) him over to Cheltenham!

The window display was not only saved, but Steve did a brilliant job, and it turned into a throughly fun day!

Thanks to the amazing team at Waterstones Cheltenham, and to the Festival organisers (who spent the day with us and even made a bat or two!).

We will be appearing (with Shifty, Sam and Sidney Scarper (the cheeky robber-penguin) ) at the Cheltenham Children's Literature Festival on Sunday 16th October at 10am, full details can be found here.

New series for first readers...

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam feature in a new fiction series ideal for children growing in confidence as readers and beginning to read alone. The first book, 'The Spooky School' features three stories:

  • Halloween at St Spectre's school brings out the cheekiest of ghosts!
  • Who is to blame when the weather goes CRAZY? A power-grabbing red panda, maybe?
  • What are is the raccoon gang really doing whilst fixing the museum's toilets? Have they got dastardly plans of their OWN?!

Published in a two-colour fiction format, it is brilliantly illustrated by Steven Lenton. 

A further two books are currently in the pipeline, and will be published in 2017/18. Take a quick peek below...

What out for some great new characters, including Red Rocket...

'Now!' is published today...

Ever found waiting a little bit hard? Yes?? Well, you're not alone...


And he's finding waiting a little bit hard too! There are SO many fun things to do. The problem is, he just can't wait! Archie wants to do everything ...  'NOW!'

Writing Resources from Pop Up

Illustrated by Ali Pye

Illustrated by Ali Pye

I have done a number of school events in association with the Pop Up organisation. They do a great job taking authors into schools around the country. I have been to events in Hackney, Telford and Peterborough, and later this month I am visiting a number of schools around Wisbech with them.

They have recently created a new resource to help teachers and children discover books and engage in creative activities. These include writing, drawing and making.

I have just added a writing resource, based upon my 'Baddies, Beasties and a Sprinkling of Crumbs!' books.

Join Otto, Martha and Scarlett, as they find themselves in an old castle, in the middle of the night, investigating something that's gone BUMP!

  • What will they do?
  • How will they react?
  • What inventions will they have to use?
  • Do you think Sebastian Stinkerton is involved?

Click here to learn more, and write your own story...


Hay Festival 2016

It was fantastic to launch the latest Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam Book – ‘The Diamond Chase!’ at the Hay Festival on Saturday May 28th. Seeing children bounding into the venue, full of excitement made me feel very proud to be introducing them to my latest robber on the block; a cheeky, opportunistic penguin-thief by the name of Sidney Scarper who just can’t resist a bit of sparkle!


It’s only when you perform the book to children do you see whether it’s really ‘working’ or not, and so I was nervous, but full of excitement too. Luckily the audience really took to Sidney who was VERY sorry for pinching Lady Kate’s tiara at her party in Woofington Hall. So much so, he did ALLthe washing up!

There was also live drawing for everyone to do. Shifty’s illustrator, Steven Lenton, guided the children through how to draw Sidney, and then I led a craft session so that all the children could make their very own pop up Sidney. It was such a wonderful afternoon and now I can’t wait until the book is in the shops. Roll on July 7th!

World Book Day (Month?) 2016!

World Book Day is a fabulous event, and a great way for schools, authors and illustrators to share the magic of books with children. The only problem is, that it is on a single day (this year on the 3rd March) and it is very hard to be in more than one place at the same time! So this year my World Book Day turned into a World Book Month as there were so many requests for visits. 

Thirteen schools, one pavilion and a castle!

It feels like I've been everywhere, over a period of eighteen days. I've been to...

  • Hartford (Cheshire)
  • Richmond
  • Ipswich
  • The Lakes
  • Hackney
  • Ross-on-Wye
  • Liverpool
  • Waterlooville
  • Fareham
  • Bournville! 

I have crafted with over 1,200 children and seen hundreds more, and it's been just amazing!

It has been really fantastic to meet so many children, teachers, librarians and parents. Thank you to everyone for making me (and Shifty, Sam and Kitty!) feel so welcome.

Time to start to look forward to World Book Day 2017 (I'm already receiving invites!).

Creative Fun!

It is always amazing to see how people use books with children, and how creatively they are interpreted.  I have recently been made aware of two fabulous examples of this...

'The Magical Snow Garden' was used as inspiration by the Charlevoix Public Library (Michigan, USA) for a brilliant public art display. They asked local families to help make a real life magical snow garden by decorating colourful garden stakes and placing them in the grounds of their library, It certainly helps when there is real snow to complete the effect!


 In another example from the US, 'Just Right For Two' was used as the basis for a puppet show in Waterloo Public Library, in Iowa. The children (and the performers!) really enjoyed the show, and I love the way they have used props on on sticks!

Meeting Elizabeth...

On a beautifully crisp, sunny autumn afternoon at the beginning of October last year, Elizabeth went with her mother, Natalia, to The Cheltenham Children’s Literature Festival to watch my Archie rhino show after school. This picture shows us after the show, I am holding the little Archie rhino puppet who is wearing the tee-shirt Elizabeth designed and made for him.

One of the things I love most about being a children’s writer is seeing the happiness my characters bring to children. Elizabeth was full of smiles, it was a magical afternoon. The Festival organiser, Jane Churchill, had arranged for the show to be performed in what looked like a beautiful circus tent, and the sight of dozens of chatty children making little tee-shirts for their puppets reinforced just why I write. Elizabeth, like the other children, loved all the pom-poms, glitter and sparkles, and all the bright rainbow colours in the tent and on the craft tables. That afternoon precious memories were made. Memories that would last a lifetime.  

But life can be tragically short. And just two months later, Elizabeth died. Now her little Archie is safely tucked away; one of her mother’s special memories of happy days with Elizabeth.

Natalia says how Elizabeth filled her days with colour, and fun, and finding out. She tells how her daughter loved being out-and-about having wonderful adventures.

Please – if you can – support Natalia in any way that you can as she walks around the coastline of Britain, keeping the memory of Elizabeth alive and trying to raise precious funds for The Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity; Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.

It was a joy to meet Elizabeth that sunny afternoon last autumn, and to meet her mother too – a brave, strong and immensely kind-hearted lady…

You can support Natalia at: