• Picture Book Snob

Diamonds are a Dog's Best Friend!

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are two reformed robbers, who now bake cakes, with a serving of crime-solving on the side! They also happen to be dogs.

The excitement begins as Shifty and Sam arrive at Woofington Hall, to cater for Lady Kate’s big birthday ball. They're kept busy creating the finest of delicacies, worthy of the occasion. But When Lady Kate’s tiara is stolen, Shifty and Sam are hot on the thief’s trail – or should that be tail?

Action, comedy, suspense – this picture book has it all, as well as lively, lyrical text that rhymes throughout, accompanied by absolutely gorgeous illustrations.

There is so much humour here. Scottie Dog’s strategy for obtaining extra helpings is genius: “So one bun for me and – um – one for my teddy!” It’s hilarious when Lady Kate praises her nephew for saving the day after Sam and Shifty do all the hard work: “Oh Barnaby!” Lady Kate beamed. “Clever you!” “She thanked Sam and Shifty for helping out too.”

Just like all my favourite picture books, this has incredibly detailed and charming images that embellish the story and convey even more jokes. There is so much happening in the pictures, which adds to the fun, such as the names of the statues in the corridor.

There’s an energetic spider that can be found on every page. I love the guests and their dance moves, especially the John Travolta-esque dog. The actions and reactions of various characters are also excellent and impart lots more information.

The expressions of the penguin waiters are brilliant. They are all silent except for Sidney Scarper, but full of personality, and communicate a lot through their faces alone. We can perceive pride, concern, embarrassment and disapproval just by looking at them.

The penguins tend to get nervous in the presence of Lady Kate's nephew and his ball, and some seem a bit wary of Shifty and Sam. While they are being searched, they mostly appear worried or mortified; one peers unhappily at the spider on his head while Sidney brazenly winks. But my favourite penguin is the one at the ball with bulging cheeks who hides a slice of cake behind his back!

The feast at Woofington Hall - definitely one of the best storybook spreads I've ever seen!

Tracey Corderoy is an award-winning children's author who has published over 70 books since 2010. One of her latest stories, Sneaky Beak, was the Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week and has been shortlisted for the 2020 Little Rebel’s Children’s Book Award.

Books illustrated by Steven Lenton have sold more than one million titles! Not only has he collaborated on many acclaimed stories, he has also written his own. Lenton recently signed a multi-book deal with HarperCollins to write and illustrate his own material including Genie and Teeny, a new series for five to eight-year-olds.

This is our first Shifty and Sam book, but Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase is their third adventure. There are lots more titles in the collection, including chapter books for older readers. I’m delighted there are so many stories available and look forward to reading the rest.

Title: Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase

Author: Tracey Corderoy

Illustrator: Steven Lenton

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication Date: 7th July 2016

ISBN: 9780857636706

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