Shifty and Sam at the Hay Festival! - Nosy Crow Skip to content
Posted by Tom, June 6, 2014

Shifty and Sam at the Hay Festival!

Today’s guest blog (re-posted from The Robber Dog Blog) is by Steven Lenton, illustrator of Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, on performing at this year’s Hay Festival.

Shifty, Sam, myself and Tracey are all still in a Hay-riffic stupor after a wonderful time at this year’s Hay Festival.

We were honoured to be invited onto The Starlight Stage to share Shifty and Sam’s story with an eager sell-out audience, who laughed, sang, danced and played games, helping us to make a truly memorable occasion for all involved.

Tracey and I arrived a day before our event and enjoyed David Melling’s Hugless Douglas event and were then treated to comps for Letters of Note: Letters Live starring, amongst others, Chris Evans and Benedict Cumberbatch (who I got chance to say a quick hello to whilst taking a photo for a friend’s daughter!)

The icing on the cake of our first day was the amazing spread that Kate and Adrian from Nosy Crow laid on for not only us, but also author Helen Peters, her family and * trumpet blast * Judy Blume, yes THE Judy Blume, in their beautiful home in Hereford. What an honour it was to be chin-wagging with writing royalty. Everyone was so lovely, witty, and by the end of the evening, full of delicious food and wine – thank you again Kate and Adrian!

Then our big day arrived and it was on with the show (after nearly not making it at all due to a flat battery!). We waited in the Green Room where numerous celebrities, authors and illustrators were tucking into cake, tea and chat – then we were called – it was time to prepare The Starlight Stage – GULP!

This was my first ever time at Hay, so to be in the middle of it all was an invasion on the senses – and the nerves!

Thankfully Tracey – Queen of Bunting – wasted no time in pinning up metres of the stuff – all handmade and suitably Shifty-esque! The rest of our props were placed to perfection and after a quick sound check (Britney mics a go-go!) the 250-strong queue started to pile in…

Then it was on with the show. Tracey and I introduced our characters – just WHERE were Shifty and Sam hiding? A- ha! In the SWAG bag of course – and, aided by the children we settled the robber dogs down for a telling of their story.

As this was Hay, we knew we had to pull out all the stops and so we had prepared some extra special treats for this show. First of which was the premiere appearance of Duchess the pink poodle – who delivered her one line (“How LOVELY!”) from the book with the professionalism and projection of a young Dame Judi (with a pink wig on.)

Next it was time for the second exclusive part of this show ‘The Robber Dog Song! – the first verse of which goes like so:


We showed the audience all the actions and in no time children from 4 to 74 were shining their torch and grabbing their bag!

I then did a ‘How to draw Slippery Sam’ masterclass – and wow, the children’s drawings were SUPERB!

Yes I AM wearing dog ears while I draw Slippery Sam.

The most fun part of the show was the audience participation extravaganza ‘Heads and Tails’ game – where children and parents were encouraged to raise their hands, come on stage with us and race each other to dress up as dogs as quickly as possible – such fun! I was in charge of Team Shifty with one side of Starlight chanting ‘SHIFTY, SHIFTY!’, while Tracey’s Team Sam ‘SAMWOO! SAMWOO!’ won the hilarious contest.

Everyone who took part in the game won a bespoke Chefs hat – modelled here by possibly the cheekiest little chap we have ever met!

Then after another sing-a-long-a-Shifty and all the children bouncing their (all handmade by Tracey!) bouncy spiders, our 45 minutes were up and it was on to the book shop for our book signing – and wow what a queue! It was so long I missed two trains back home to Bath, but gosh, was it worth it.

Thank you to all at Hay for organising such a fantastic festival and for helping us to create a fun, interactive show that couldn’t have gone better – PHEW!

The response to our show was overwhelming and we even got a mention on BBC Radio 6 Music and the BBC BLOG.

Keep up-to-date with all upcoming events and news on Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam 2 at the Nosy Crow website!

And thank you to Tracey for being there – you are one in a million xxx

Thank you, Steven! Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam is available in shops in paperback now – you can take a look inside below and order it online from Waterstones here.

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