Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam

NSTBA Past Winners- Picture Book Category

Owl Logo NSTBA.png

It’s our 5th birthday this year and we couldn’t be more excited! Since 2015, we have read and reviewed so many wonderful books- and met so many lovely authors and illustrators. We started the awards to help teachers be more aware of some of the amazing books that are available and that teachers could- and perhaps should- be using in school. Everyone involved in the awards works in education and most of us are teachers, working full time in classes across the primary age range. This puts us in the perfect position for getting these books into the hands of children and for raising their profile with our colleagues.

As submissions for this year must have been received by April 14th, we thought it was a good time to have a look back at our winners in each category from the last four years. So today, we’re starting with the Picture Book Category.

download (24).jpg

Our first ever winners in this category were Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton with their wonderful characters, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam. This book was an instant hit with the team as Shifty and Sam are brilliant and the story is full of fun . There are now four picture books and four chapter books about them- each offering Tracey’s fabulous writing and Steven’s amazing illustrations. A winning team if ever there was one!

download (1).jpeg

Although Tracey and Steven were not able to attend the ceremony, they came and visited some of our schools shortly after and were a huge hit with staff and children alike! They are both the loveliest people and we have seen them many times since, always enjoying their events. You can read our review here

download (25).jpg

In 2016, Michelle Robinson and David Roberts won with their brilliant book, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting’. Another gem, this caught our eye as it offers something a bit different. We were delighted that Michelle was able to come to the awards- and that she brought her lovely family with her. Michelle is one of those people who always makes you smile- she is full of fun, warm and friendly and it’s always a pleasure to bump into her. You can read our review of ‘Bear Spotting’ here.

download (27).jpg

The winner in 2017 was Matt Carr with ‘Superbat’. This book had been a huge success with children in events we had held in schools. Having a really strong message about what really makes each of us ‘super’ as well as ‘Batty Facts’, ‘Superbat’ is great to use with classes. The bold illustrations encourage children to draw their own pictures and create their own superheroes. We were delighted that Matt was able to join us for the awards. You can read our review here.

download (26).jpg

Last year, the wonderful Sophy Henn won with ‘Almost Anything’, a wonderful story about George who lacks confidence in himself and is reluctant to try anything. Sadly, Sophy was very poorly on the day of the awards, but sent a lovely video message. Once she had recovered, she came to visit one of our schools and did four amazing sessions with children and parents. It was a fantastic day! It is always a pleasure to see Sophy at festivals as she is so engaging - and genuinely lovely! You can read our review here.


Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. We have thousands of visits to the website each month and often receive feedback, thanking us for our suggestions.

Since the last awards, we have been searching for this year’s long list and are still hunting.When looking at a book, we are always asking ourselves how it could be used as well as thinking about its fun factor. If you have any suggestions or would like to make a submission, please get in touch. Details are available on our home page.

Next, we will revisit the Information Book Category winners!

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.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Missing Masterpiece

DSC_0013 (3).JPG

In their latest adventure, Shifty and Sam are in Paris where they are going to bake a huge gingerbread Eiffel Tower for Gallerie Bonbon, an upmarket art gallery. But a master criminal is at large and when sneaky fox, Cunningham Sly, steals a precious painting from under their noses, the chase is on. Can our brilliant bakers save the day- and get their gingerbread tower built in time?

DSC_0014 (3).JPG

Our lovable duo are off on their adventures again. Tracey's lively text is a real joy to read aloud- the pace and energy are perfect. In keeping with the Parisian setting, there are French words and expressions woven into the story, adding that extra 'Je ne sais quoi' to the tale! This was also developed through the illustrations and led to wonderful conversations about Paris and its landmarks with my class, clearly demonstrating how a fabulous book can offer so much more than a brilliant story!

As ever in these stories, so much character is conveyed in very few words. Shifty and Sam's new adversary, Cunningham Sly, is a great example of this. If using this as a class text, a great deal of character building and language development could be done based on him- as well as Shifty and Sam, of course- and even their little spider friend!

DSC_0016 (3).JPG

Talking of the spider, I was so pleased to see that the traditional spider hunt on each page has been maintained - with some very challenging hiding places! Every illustration in the book is an absolute joy- full of detail and humour. Steven has played with some famous masterpieces, giving them a doggy make-over, once again encouraging discussion and further investigation of the originals. As events take place around them, the sharp-eyed reader will delight in noticing changes in each painting. 

DSC_0015 (2).JPG

Each 'Shifty' adventure leaves me longing for the next one and this is no exception! Fun and light-hearted humour are guaranteed, but the quality of both text and illustration make them something really special. I hope they are going to work their way round Europe!

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Missing Masterpiece  Tracey Corderoy,

illustrated by Steven Lenton

Nosy Crow     ISBN: 978-0857639745  

Publication date: 5th July 2018