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My new picture book, GRUMPYCORN, has been well and truly LAUNCHED in the most amazing place imaginable, a storybook castle in Ireland, at the Towers & Tales Lismore Story Festival.


Hat created by Eddie Smith, dress by Esther Blessed

Lismore Castle really is like being in a fairytale, no unicorn could resist it, not even the grumpiest unicorn.



And we made books! In the story, Unicorn is trying to write 'the most fabulous story in the world', but he can't figure out where to start. The children and families who came along to the launch were much less inhibited and we came up with some great cover ideas, inspired by Grumpycorn.



And I had some of my all-time favourite illustrators around me! Here's the amazing David Roberts (whose books include Suffragettes, Dirty Bertie, Ada Twist Scientist) at the writing desk in his room. (To be honest, we'd need to stay another week to get much writing done; we were too busy exploring.)




Another lovely unicorn book:



Here's my co-author on The Legend of Kevin and other books, Philip Reeve, about to get an earful.



I think this was my favourite Unicorn book; it looks deceptively cute on the cover, but then...



Also the inner text is rather spectacular, more books should be like this.



Here are Ali and Rob Biddulph (author of Blown Away, Odd Dog Out, Happy Hatchday) admiring their room.



These linked-up books were created by twins (or maybe they're friends and the books are just twins).




Here's Jarvis (Tropical Terry, Alan's Big Scary Teeth) surveying the marvelous morning room.



That little worm-unicorn in the middle is so excellent.



Since the GRUMPYCORN book cover is so blingy, I got some shoes to match. And they made me feel like I had big hooves, I was not exactly a graceful unicorn in them... but they were very sparkly.



Here's a picture I drew on the flipchart before my GRUMPYCORN event at the festival.



Some stage action in the castle's Pugin Hall on @towersandtales Instagram:



Festival coordinator Eimear Cheasty surprised us all after my event with two boxes of these gorgeous cupcakes to share with everyone, sent by my Scholastic publicist Louisa Danquah. Thanks, Louisa!



But we didn't spend the whole few days in the castle; Philip Reeve and I went on Friday with Waterford County librarian Loretta Kinsella to gorgeous new Carrickphierish Library to do a bunch of community outreach events.



And the events were brilliant - the festival had packed in about 350 children per event, and I got them all drawing and creating unicorn stories with me. (I also did a Reeve & McIntyre Legend of Kevin event with Philip, and he did a Railhead event.)



They were not stingy with the cakes! Here we are in the library kitchen with Elaina Ryan from Children's Book Ireland, and photographer Bill Burlington (or William), who hosts the Saturday part of the festival in his family's castle.



Huge thanks to Waterford Libraries, Jennie Loughran, Loretta, Niamh, and all the Waterford librarians who hosted us!



And to Loretta, Sarah and Mary for taking us out for lunch afterward; it's great to have good craic with librarians.



A few more peeks at authors at the festival; here's a photo at tea time tweeted by County Cork Librarian Ikki Keane, of Ireland's first Children's Laureate na nÓg Siobhán Parkinson, Ikki, writer-illustrator Mary Murphy and David Roberts.



And Niamh Sharkey (Irish Legends for the Very Young, The Ravenous Beast) with her daughter. Niamh was one of my very early influences with her book The Gigantic Turnip, and she's another one of Ireland's terrific Laureates.



I was also blown away by the creativity of Marion Deuchars (Bob the Artist, Let's Make Some Great Art), and it was lovely to meet her and spend time with her.



This is definitely my year of mythical horse-based characters! Here are a couple photos tweeted by Waterford librarian Sinead O'Higgins from our Legend of Kevin event.




I'm going to try to do a second blog post with more photos - there were so many other exciting things happening at the festival! This has been a busy month, and I still have blog posts to write about Geneva and Abu Dhabi, but I'm off to Belfast in the morning to do events for Book Trust Northern Ireland, so the blog posts will have to wait.



Huge thanks to Towers & Tales hosts William and Laura Burlington, Eimear, Elaina, Niamh, Loretta, Denis Nevin the butler, Tom and Austin the drivers, Tina in the kitchen (who makes the best granola), and so many more staff and volunteers who made everything happen! Very often at a festival, I'll only get time to run around and say hello to people, very briefly, and it's hard because they're often colleagues I hugely admire and would LOVE to talk with in more depth. So it was wonderful to get this chance at Towers & Tales, and in such a magical setting! (Here we are one evening: me, jewellery artist Claire Le Marquand, Laura, and then out front with Philip and William.)



I'm having massive withdrawal pangs already, it's very hard to say goodbye to Lismore! (You can browse a gallery of photos on the castle's website.)



And, of course, thanks to Easons booksellers (they sell Grumpycorn here), and my whole Scholastic team, including designer Strawberrie Donnelly, editor Pauliina Malinen, publisher Catherine Bell, publicists Louisa Danquah and Bethan Dewey, and my agent Jodie Hodges.

If you want to find more GRUMPYCORN-themed activities, I've put lots of free activities on my website, including a colouring sheet and guides for drawing Unicorn, Mermaid, Narwhal and Jellyfish. Families, teachers, librarians, everyone, feel free to print them out and use them!

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Sarah McIntyre

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