And here they are, enthusiastic readers at the festival ground in Cagliari, where 5,000 children arrived every day for three days to attend book events.
Philip and I had been doing lots of events for our new book The Legend of Kevin, so on the way back, we made a little comic about what it would be like for a roly-poly flying pony to visit the festival.
But it wasn't only Kevin who came along...
This was the view of the Via Garibaldi from my window!
And here's the independent bookshop, Libreria Tuttestorie, who organised the festival. We didn't get to go inside because whenever we were off-duty, it was closed for the daily riposo (Italian for siesta).
But that was not a problem because there was a whole other outdoor bookshop they were running on the festival grounds at the EXMA arts centre.
Here's a festival photo (tweeted by @FTuttestorie) of us being interviewed by Italy's RIA station. It's one of the few times I've later walked down a street and someone's recognised me from TV.
Here's our excellent Il Castoro editor, Lori Baldinucci, who met us in Cagliari. She edited Pugs of the Frozen North - La Grande Corsa al Polo Nord - and Oliver and the Seawigs - Oliver e le Isole Vagabonde - and had them translated by Laura Bortoluzzi.
I loved these children's fan art they brought along:
We did five assemblies for schools and one public all-ages event, and signed books in the big EXMA festival courtyard:
Sea monkey! (You can learn how to draw a Sea Monkey step by step here on my website.)
A pug is a 'carlino' in Italian, named after Carlo 'Carlino' Bertinazzi, a Harlequin actor who achieved fame in both Italy and France in the 1700s. The dog’s snout looked like the mask he wore on stage.
You can learn how to draw a pug here.
Lori took some photos of us in action:
But we couldn't have done any of it without our excellent translator, Samantha Cipollina; it was really a three-person show.
Here's Samantha, to the right of Philip:
After one of our events, we did a radio interview and Samantha did simultaneous translation for that, which is even trickier than translating sentences after we'd finished speaking them.
It was great to see British writer-illustrator Benji Davies! He also has a book published with Il Castoro, and we got to have dinner with him one evening.
Here's Benji with his partner, Nina. (They'd brought along their toddler, so we didn't get to see a lot of them, but it was great to see them at least briefly.)
Here's Davide Madeddu, the mastermind of our trip and our main contact. He's usually a nursery school teacher, but he takes a week off work to run around making everything in the festival run efficiently, and he warned us that at the end of the festival, we'd need a couple days to recover. We hope he gets at least a week to sleep! He was so helpful and cheerful the whole time, it was wonderful working with him. And we got to have dinner at the amazing Antico Caffè on the first night with at least seven courses of absolute gourmet food, including this seafood stew with traditional Sardinian Fregula pasta.
Here's the festival ground lit up at night, and we were able to catch glimpses of some of the performances in the courtyard, including a performer who uses an old-fashioned overhead projector, music, shadow puppets, inks and water. (I took a photo of that but it didn't turn out.)
Everyone was so friendly, and having the children's festival all in one big arts centre like that gave the whole place a wonderful atmosphere, with costumes, music and street performers.
Here we are across the street from the festival, at Mood Restaurant, our designated lunch place. We got to try another Sardinian pasta specialty, Malloreddus, and another day, a simple buffalo mozzerella salad, which turned out to be absolutely amazing. (I didn't know mozzerella could be that good! Davide told us that kind of mozzerella only lasts a couple days, so they can't really export it.)
Massive thanks to Davide, and to the huge team of staff and volunteers for looking after us and making everything so much fun.
On our last night we had dinner all together at the Salsamenteria on Via Sidney Sonnino for the last time and said our goodbyes. I was very sad to leave Sardinia, I would have loved to have spent at least another month there, touring around the island and walking in the hills.
We'll miss you all!
Thanks for making us feel so welcome!
And now, a few more photos of Cagliari. We didn't have huge amounts of time off, but we usually had a couple hours in the afternoon to race around looking at things, and on Saturday, we only had an evening event, so we were able to go on a particularly long walk, starting here from the Via Garibaldi:
We passed this building every day on the way to breakfast at the Antico Caffé:
The light there is so beautiful, and we got to see quite a few variations on it, as it as a bit stormy when we arrived. (Fortunately it only rained at night, never during the day (which would have soaked the outdoor elements of the festival), although we learned the rain was a good thing because it keeps mosquitos at bay, and they came out during our last couple days. If you're going to Sardinia, be sure to pack insect repellent!
Gate in the old town:
We walked from the harbour around the penninula to the beach, and realised we really should have got a bus or taxi. But the walk was still interesting, and we popped into this nondescipt cafe-tabac which turned out to have a lot of charm and look like something in a film:
At least we reached the beach! And a beautiful one it is, too. Neither of us had brought swim wear, but I think I would have blinded all these lovely bronzed people with my whiteness, so that was okay.
We found a Chaffy di Mare! (Or some sort of dried-up sea urchin - there were a lot of these washed up on the shoreline.)
We're not quite sure what they said about us in the local media, but it was nice to see, nonetheless! The hats and big frocks went down well, they are very not local fashion.
I did succumb to one piece of local fashion at Milan airport, but it turns out Philip looks much better in it.
And a final thought for Philip, who kindly packed the pack of Fregula I'd bought in a supermarket in Cagliari to take home. Readers, it burst. Philip will be finding pasta balls in unexpected places for months.