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Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam Hardcover – August 6, 2013
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This charming UK import follows two robber dogs, whose bag of “swag” is consistently empty. We meet them at the end of a long, unsuccessful night, as they return to their ramshackle home and empty the swag bag. Its contents: a single spider (which appears throughout). Shifty, a mutt, and Slippery, a pug, review their night’s adventures: they failed at robbing the bank and the butchery, yes, but most humiliating (and hilariously depicted in a rushing double-page spread) were the animals that chased them out of the zoo. Yep, they need a new approach. So they invite their neighbors over for a tea party, hoping to rob their homes while the guests are scarfing down treats. However, as they concoct delicacies, they discover something unexpected: baking is fun! This fresh take on the “trickster-tricked” idea—with a rhyming text that meshes well with Lenton’s mixed-media illustrations—should get plenty of use from your library’s own sticky-finger gang. Preschool-Grade 2. --Connie Fletcher
About the Author
Tracey Corderoy is a teacher, but with a head happily crammed with countless ideas and stories for children, she began writing in 2006. She lives in Gloucestershire, England, with her family and a whole host of cute-but-naughty pets.
Steven Lenton spent many a school vacation working in the family pom-pom factory. Since this somewhat fluffy start to his career he has gained a BA and MA in animation and has become a successful animator and art director in children’s television. He lives in England.
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ILLUSTRATIONS: The illustrations were created in mixed media. There is a lot of creativity and fun. The pages, however, are a bit cluttered at times and don't have enough color contrast to fully enjoy each item on the page. Some of the pages are a bit too dark and black lettering on a gray background makes for a very difficult read.
THE GOOD: There is a good moral here that everyone can find a good honest job they enjoy. I especially enjoyed the fact that the dogs didn't just get a job, but one they really loved. I enjoyed watching their baked treats pile up as they learned to cook. There was lots of humor throughout the book making it a lighter read.
THE NOT AS GOOD: I love Tracey Corderoy books, but I have mixed feelings about this one. First, this is a book that is 3/4 about crime. I would find it very hard to read this to a group of children even though the ending comes out well. And speaking of endings; there are absolutely no consequences for these dogs, who attempted to steal, which is a crime in itself. They get off scot-free. Finally, this is a rhyming book. And although the rhyming was not too badly done, it felt very wrong for the serious nature of the story.
"He thought for a moment. 'I know what we'll do!
We'll throw a tea party--tomorrow at two.
And then, when the neighbors are here having fun,
we'll sneak to their houses and rob every one!'"
You may find this to be reminiscent of The Grinch. So why do I feel better about the Grinch, than I do about these two thieving dogs? It's because the Grinch finds his heart and realizes what he has done is wrong BEFORE he is caught. I would have liked this story better if the dogs used their conscience and turned things around on their own.
AGE RECOMMENDATION: Advertised for ages 4-8, but I think due to the crime element, I would recommend it for the older range of 6-8.
For every “Artful Dodger” or “Bonnie and Clyde” there’s a “Laurel and Hardy” of the robber fraternity, and that’s the badge of dishonor these dogs wear. Their “Swag” bag often empty of loot, and as such short on money.
One night, they hatch their most promising plan yet, invite their neighbors to tea, treat them to bite-sized feast, then slip out and ransack faster than you can say “R.S.V.P.”
The only thing is: they can’t afford to get a ready-made spread, and they’ve never baked before!
But hey, desperate times call for learning the precise measurements behind baking, and as a fledgling home baker myself, that’s no idle matter.
Luckily with a cookery book on their paws, and the gumption only desperation can bring about, they surprise themselves (and their guests) with a feast of truly delectable edibles.
“Operation: Trojan Tea Party” didn’t go off without a hitch, but that’s only the beginning of their problems…
Author Tracey Corderoy uses a light rhyming scheme and couplet paragraphs that convey a concise yet complete narrative that nicely blends with Steven Lenton’s illustrations that use color, light and shadows to excellent effect, I truly felt like I was living out a short film as I read through.
Without spoiling the ending, let’s just say “Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam” bring a fresh spin on the often spoken adage “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”
-Reversion of the Original Review on TalkingAnimalAddicts.com