Tracy Corderoy: The Joys of a Story

Author Tracey Courderoy
Category: Reading

This year every P2 and P3 child in Scotland will be given a special bag of books, counting games and writing resources as part of the Read Write Count campaign. One of wonderful books in the P2 Read Write Count bag is Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton. Here, Tracey shares why she thinks it is so important that all children have access to books and stories.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam start off their book lives as robbers. But, from the outset, they are rubbish at robbing and can never even manage to be sneaky. And from the moment they realise how upsetting it is for those they attempt to rob, they promptly chuck away their swag-bag for a life of baking yummy cupcakes instead!

Steven Lenton, the illustrator of Shifty, and I love visiting schools, libraries and festivals up and down the country, telling children the story of our bad dogs who turn good. Each event is different, for that’s the nature of live storytelling. And it’s as rewarding for us telling the story as it is for the children who listen. For we are there together, in the moment, with Shifty and Sam, in their world. And it’s so exciting and FUN for us all!

For me it’s so uplifting to see the power that ‘sharing a story’ has on these young children; how it transports them out of the here and now, allows them to empathise and wonder. And how having stories brought to life fills them with excitement and wide-eyed joy.

As a child growing up in industrial South Wales in the early 1970’s, I didn’t have a lot of books in my home. I can remember there being a dusty old set of encyclopaedias, which had a great section of flags, a Welsh Bible (I couldn’t read a word of!) and one small Ladybird version of Cinderella.

I loved this fairy-tale beyond belief, and read it over and over again. I knew every moment, every word, every dress (down to the trims and sparkles!). And no matter how many times I read the story, I was there in that world with Cinderella, feeling just how she did. With her I was sad, cold, lonely, desperate. With her I was helped and surprised. I was at the ball, I was marrying the prince! I saw, and lived, and breathed her magic. And I felt her happily-ever-after moment too!

It's so uplifting to see the power that 'sharing a story' has on young chidren

Both myself and Steven, and our publisher, Nosy Crow, are immensely honoured that the Scottish Book Trust chose our tale of robber-dogs turned good to be given as a gift to all Primary 2 children across Scotland. Some of these children, like me, might not have many books in their home. Some may not have any.

But because of the ‘Read, Write, Count!’ campaign, now they do.

Now they’ll always be able, when they want, to escape into Shifty and Sam’s world. A world where doughnuts are always super-jammy, where friends are always close at paw, and where ‘mistakes’ are always forgiven when there’s true regret.

I was a Primary School Teacher once and I saw the pleasure that books can give to very young children in school. As well as allowing them the means to escape, stories enable them to make sense of their world as they try to understand the motives of others, and explore their own needs and wishes.

As Shifty, Sam and I travel the country we see so many people who really make a difference, every day, to the lives of young children. Mums, dads, grandparents, carers, teachers, librarians, storytellers, and organisations like Scottish Book Trust, who enable children to experience ‘story’ and all the joy that goes with it.

For the gift of a book goes far deeper than the words and pictures on the page. And whoever put that fairy-tale into my hands all those years ago, allowed me a glimpse of the magical that remains with me to this day…    

To find out more about Read Write Count, visit  and

Watch Tracey and Steven share the wonderful Shifty and Sam stories and learn how to draw your very own Slippery Sam in this Authors Live broadcast.

Find out about how Carnegie Primary celebrated Read Write Count with a very special gifting party in this blog.

Tracey Corderoy

Tracey is the author of the hugely popular Shifty McGifty and Slippery SamJust Right for Two, and the Hubble Bubble picture book and illustrated fiction series  She lives in Gloucestershire with her family and a whole host of cute-but-naughty pets. Follow her @TraceyCorderoy

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