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islay book festival 2019

Last week Reeve & McIntyre were in the Hebrides for Islay Book Festival!



...In fact, all the Reeve family and most of the McIntyres were there, too! Highlights include my dad getting his beloved kippers for breakfast, and Glasgow Auntie giving our guesthouse hens a cuddle.




We had some new books out! My picture book, Grumpycorn, the second installment in our Roly-Poly Flying Pony series, Kevin's Great Escape, and Philip Reeve's Railhead trilogy (that's the first book, with Edinburgh-based Ian McQue's lovely cover). Thanks to The Celtic House bookshop/boutique/cakehouse in Bowmore for stocking books for our events!



For our first festival-organised school visit, we visited Port Charlotte Primary School. Check out this fabulous display they made! Their teacher had led them in writing brand-new stories and drawing pictures inspired by our book The Legend of Kevin:











I led a picture book session with Year 1-3, where I showed them how to design a Grumpycorn-inspired book cover. Meet
clever spin-offs Icedlollycorn, Fish Finger and Chipscorn and Sausagecorn! (But I prefer his spelling.)



We also did a Legend of Kevin event, but sadly I was too busy to manage to take any photos. A group from Keills Primary were able to come along, too, and I really enjoyed meeting the students individually during the signing session and having chats with them.

Our next stop was Port Ellen Primary School, where we also drew Grumpycorn-inspired book covers!





Here's a lovely drawing from our Reeve & McIntyre session with the upper primary, and a picture of journalist Angus MacKinnon, who drove us between schools and did a great job organising our books signing sessions.



Back that night in Bowmore, I spent some time mending Kevin's broken wing, as he'd taken rather a beating during the events, demonstrating the bit in the story where he arrives on a boy's balcony with a broken wing. (It was all rather meta, poor Kevin. He's all stitched up now.)


Kevin plushie created by Chloe Applin

The next morning, we were off to Bowmore Primary School, for more enthusiastic Kevinning!



Horses can be quite tricky to draw, but I actually get quite inspired by seeing the children's variation on my drawings.



And then we went to Islay High School and made comics.



Here are a couple Comic Jams that Philip and I did, taking turns on each panel:





Sea monkeys are lots of fun to draw (I once did a TEDx talk where I showed a bunch of scientists at the end how to draw Sea Monkeys, if you want to watch.) And here's Philip signing a copy of The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines.



The following day I had a big public Grumpycorn festival event! I got to see Edinburgh-based writer-illustrator Morag Hood, who'd led a session for very little ones just before my event:



And once again we drew unicorns! (Unicorns are very popular on Islay, I discovered.)





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It was fun (and kind of funny) having my parents along to several of my events! They live way off in Seattle, so they almost never see me doing things on stage. When Isla Rosser-Owen invited us out for the festival, I asked if I could bring my family; she readily agreed to it, so my parents booked a cottage for three weeks! The visit turned into a wonderful family reunion kind of thing, with aunt and cousins dropping in. So, thank you for inviting us, Isla! And thank you for organising everything and making sure we were looked after so well. Here are my parents with Isla and her sister, Mariam Rosser-Owen.



My parents had a lot of fun going to other festival events, but Philip and I were so busy that we only managed one, the Lurabus Walk with Angus MacKinnon and his partner Tissy Northcote, who run the Islay Beach Cottage.



My dad grew up on Islay, and we all met up for the walk right next to the lovely cemetary where my great-grandparents are buried:



Angus took us along by the lighthouse...



...and then to the beach that only the day before, Ian Rankin had pronounced his new favourite beach.



Then Tissy met us at the top of the hill with hot drinks and our roly-poly flying pony's favourite biscuits!



While I was on Islay, a lot of children did a lot of drawing, but I managed to fit in some drawing, too:



This drawing features the lovely hat I bought at the Islay Woollen Mill:



The owner of our guest house had asked if I would draw something on his walls, so here it is, a ship full of sheep:



Here's the shop in Bridgend, where my dad grew up. (He went to Newton House School, but it's not there anymore, and been turned into guest houses.)



We also visited the Museum of Islay Life, and spotted my grandfather's microscope and christening gown.



As you'd expect on Islay, our trip had a bit of a theme... here's the Bowmore distillery:



Ardbeg distillery:



Bruichladdich distillery (thanks to the festival for organising us a tour!):



Ardnahoe distillery, which is brand-new and has a lovely cafe that we visited twice:



And finally, Bunnahabhain distillery:



Big thanks to Sarah and Sam Reeve for making the trip so much fun! It was great having them along:



Thanks to my husband Stuart for the excellent fish pie, chicken stew, and general beach company:



Huge thanks to the festival volunteers, the Celtic House, Margaret and John at Lambeth House, and everyone who made the trip so fun! And the biggest thanks goes to my parents, for letting us all stay in their cottage and making the big trip out. You two are the best. xxx



Oh, and I finally manged to get my mother a copy of Kevin's Great Escape, so thank you, Celtic House, for that!

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Sarah McIntyre

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