Bookshelf Read Aloud

The Sea House


Having just lost her parents, Coral cries herself to sleep one night. In the morning, she wakes to find her home transformed into a magical underwater world full of wonderful sea creatures. Here she meets Fabulous, a beautiful Damselfish, determined to be her best friend. There is darkness lurking in the house as well and Coral must find the strength to overcome this with the help of her new friends.

There is much to this relatively short story. Descriptive writing using rich and varied vocabulary makes it a pleasure to read aloud and offers plenty to challenge a developing reader. Many sea creatures are introduced and described in the story with Fabulous’s Fantastic Fish Facts offering additional information at the end of the story.

Grief is also a theme of the story and through her experience in the Sea House, Coral comes to realise that her parents accident was not her fault and that their love will always be with her in her heart. Overcoming the evil creatures in the house helps her to face her fears and her grief.

Coral celebrates her Welsh heritage in the story by singing ‘Calon Lan’ or ‘Pure Heart’ and the words are given in both Welsh and English, adding another layer of interest to the story. The illustrations throughout the book are just delightful. Full page pictures, chapter headings and illustrations inset into the writing mean there are many pictures throughout the story which adds to its charm.

Perfect for guided reading with younger children or as a class read aloud, ‘The Sea House’ is well worth a read.

The Sea House Lucy Owen, illustrated by Rebecca Harry

Firefly Press ISBN: 978-1910080825

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Aliens are Coming!


Our favourite baker dogs are back solving another collection of weird and wonderful mysteries- and cooking up some tasty treats along the way. There are three new stories in this book, offering the perfect challenge for the newly independent reader.

In their first story, Shifty and Sam face an alien invasion… and end up creating an amazing flying saucer cake. In the second, our brave boys challenge the cheating ways of Red Rocket whilst enjoying themselves by the seaside. Their final adventure sees the return of an old enemy who is up to no good. But never fear, the boys find the purr-fect way of dealing with her!


Here at NSTBA HQ, we love Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam and were delighted to see a new book starring these two lovable pooches. Tracy’s charming stories are very engaging, offering rich use of language and plenty of humour. Excellent for guided reading, each story offers plenty to discuss and enjoy.


Steven’s pictures are an absolute delight. These stories are always lavishly illustrated and full of fabulous details. The little spider makes a number of appearances throughout- children love finding him almost as much as I do!

There’s nothing quite like a Shifty and Sam book to put a smile on your face. We have been massive fans of them - and their creators- since they won the Picture Book Category in our first awards! Let’s hope their adventures keep coming!

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Aliens are Coming

Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Steven Lenton

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788001526

You can read out review of Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam here , The Missing Masterpiece here and The Spooky School here.

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods


Poppy has gone to stay with Grandma who lives in the sleepy town of Suds. Whilst there, she has to follow Grandma’s rules: keep the sugar locked away; do your washing during the day and make sure it’s brought in before six o’clock- even if it’s still wet; close the window at night, lock it and draw the curtains and NEVER dust the window sills. Not the rules you might expect, but then Suds is not as it appears. There are stories about children who have vanished- the colour draining slowly from them before they disappear completely. And then there’s the mysterious silk-bound book Poppy found on the train…

Poppy is certain that there is something peculiar going on in Suds and with her new friend, Erasmus, starts investigating its secrets. Curious characters and strange events lead them to the dark, sinister Riddling Woods, but will Poppy be brave enough to solve the mystery?

Full of wit and wisdom, ‘The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods’ is a quirky original read which is deliciously dark in places. The many twists to the plot are cleverly woven together, making it thoroughly enjoyable.

Poppy and Erasmus are wonderful characters - both outsiders and both coping with difficulties in their lives. Poppy’s mother died in a crash and her father is often away; Erasmus’s mother is a drinker, often embarrassing and neglecting him. Each has an inner strength and copes, yet each is vulnerable. Gran is an amazing character- sweet- eating seamstress who can make anything.

The world of folklore and legends, the sinister nature of the Peggs and the hard fought battle of good versus evil make this book a refreshing alternative to many available at the moment. Peppered with quirky illustrations, it offers plenty of pacy action, mystery and adventure.

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods Samuel J Halpin, illustrated by Hannah Peck

Usborne ISBN: 978-1474945660