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: www.elizabethsfootprint.com 

Shifty and Granny take to the Road with Vauxhall's 'Backseat Bedtime'!

I am delighted that Vauxhall Motors have selected three of my books to launch their ‘Backseat Bedtime’ programme, a series of narrated stories aimed at helping out parents on long car journeys!

Edith Bowman, radio DJ and mum of two, was chosen to narrate these stories, which can be downloaded or streamed as audio or video content through Vauxhall OnStar – a personal onboard assistant offering destination download, automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, WiFi for up to seven devices and much more.

The stories selected (and the videos) are:

Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble

Getting into the festive spirit

As the first hard frosts hit the UK, and the log-fires start to crackle, I would like to introduce a new character who lives in the snow all year round...

Wellington Penguin is one of those optimistic souls who is determined to do what he wants (in a nice way!). 

In this story he is desperate to create something truly magical; a garden in the snow - declaring that if he can't grow a garden, he’ll make one. After days of folding, twirling, gluing, digging and planting bits and bobs,  his dream finally takes shape … until an icy blast makes mincemeat of his efforts.

But Wellington never gives up…



The Lancashire Evening Post said...

This inspirational winter-time story has all the essential ingredients to provide a heart-warming ‘snuggle up and share’ bedtime read. Wellington’s struggles prove the rewards of refusing to give up on our dreams and the glitter-spangled cover adds a special Christmas glow.

The full review of this story can be read here...


Launching the Cheltenham Children’s Book Festival

A few weeks ago Tracey and I were invited to launch the Cheltenham Literature Festival Children’s programme ‘BOOK IT; the festival for families and young adults.’

Of course we leapt at the chance, what a great opportunity to help raise awareness of such a great festival.  I knew straight away that I wanted to do a lovely Shifty McGifty window display that could somehow involve the children of Cheltenham who came along for our event.

I got my thinking ears on and looked through our book to see which spread might make a nice display and this one leapt out at me;

I thought it would be great to base the interactive window on this dramatic climax – it includes all the main characters from the book and has lots of elements that could hang in a window.

Best of all, I realised that the children could help us to make the jewels, crowns, rings and tiaras that are falling – perfect!

We ordered large prints of the characters, placed them onto foam board, cut them out carefully (always slightly stressful, one slip and Kitty’s tail could be a goner!) and then all the elements were ready to place into the window.

Here I am placing the main sections of the design into the window starting with the police dogs and skyline.


Then in went Kitty floating in the centre of the window and the bespoke Shifty 2 bunting

All the staff at Waterstones Cheltenham really threw themselves into the day and did a great job at promoting both our event and the festival.

The freshly new attired Shifty and Sam toys took pride of place atop their pyramid of books!

Once all the main elements were in it was time for me to draw the Shifty and Sam lettering onto the window – I’d never used chalk pens or written backwards before so I was a tad apprehensive, but it wasn’t so bad!

By this time, lots of children had started to come into the shop and already started to make crowns and even some bouncy spiders (the necklaces are the authors own!).

Then the window was complete, ready to keep adding more and more of the children’s creations – this is when I joined Tracey who was busy storytelling in the children’s department…

Tracey writes:

It’s always exciting to do something different and so doing a live, interactive window display was something I was very much looking forward to. I’ve done lots of events at Cheltenham Waterstones before and have always had such a great time, so I was thrilled when we were invited to help publicise the Children’s Festival. 

Steve and I met last month to talk through the day and decide exactly what we’d both do. Obviously he was going to be fantastic at creating something brilliant in the window, and I was more than happy to entertain children and parents with stories, craft, and buckets of gems and glitter! Then the children accompanied me to the window to proudly hand over their decorated creations for Steve to display them falling from Kitty’s swag bag. Numerous bouncy spiders walked up the walls too, or dangled down twinkling with glitter! 

The wonderful children’s booksellers were on hand throughout the day, thoroughly ‘living’ the event – dressing up, providing refreshments for me and Steve (in stripy black and white mugs!!) and ‘jewel sweets’ for parents and children, (thanks, Barbara – even though I wasn’t a parent or a child – the orange ones, I have to say, were particualary yummy!) and generally sparkling with their enthusiasm all day long! It felt like a real team effort, which was fantastic.

Here I am above reading Shifty 2: it’s the moment in the story when Sam is overjoyed to have found such a little star in Ruby. Little does he know what she has in store! 

There are times when you read to children when you know you’ve captured their imagination; that they’re actually there with Shifty and Sam, in the moment. This was one of these times. The children filled in the words when I stopped and that was such a magical moment because you know that they’re captivated, but also that the rhymes are pitched just right! As I read, the crafting went on and it was great to see parents and children not hurrying off but wanting to sit a while and talk (and do yet more bouncy spiders!). When life is typically so busy, sharing such relaxed times with a book is such a treat.


Here I am with Kitty by the fish. Kitty liked that they were ‘gold’ fish! She can just about see through her mask here – the mask went on and off several times during the day as little ones played with her and generally had fun. Thanks to all who came along to see us!

We had a wonderful day at Waterstones Cheltenham and we can’t wait to come back for our festival event on Sunday 11th of October!

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, "The Cat Burglar" is launched

The second picture book in the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam series, "The Cat Burglar" is launched today! 

In this adventure, Shifty and Sam, the reformed robber dogs, have embarked upon a radical career change, and are now running a charming cafe.

Life’s as sweet as a sugared doughnut until their new, seemingly cute-as-a-cupcake employee turns out to be infamous cat burglar Kitty Le Claw.

Shifty and Sam are caught in a sticky situation when they find themselves in the frame for Kitty’s raid on a bank vault. Have the cake-loving canines bitten off more than they can chew…?

Pictures from the launch event...

The trailer is out...

The new 'Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam' book, 'The Cat Burglar' is launched on the 23rd June. Here's a small trailer...

Reformed robber dogs Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam have embarked upon a radical career change and are now running a charming café. Life's sweet as a sugared doughnut until their new, seemingly cute-as-a-cupcake employee turns out to be infamous cat-burglar Kitty-le-Claw.