Masks by Rosie & Grace, and Esther Blessed (who also sewed my dress)
Barnes Children's Literature Festival had all started with the infamous Pet Parade where the combination of Philip's bitey poodle and my stolen cat mysteriously won SECOND PRIZE:
So I stuck with this theme and stole two more puppies when I arrived, because Barnes has a GREAT selection of top dogs. (I did actually give back Saffon and George, but only after I held them hostage for cuddles.)
Even though our event featured Kevin, the Roly-Poly Flying Pony who is framed for Crimes Against Biscuits, people took away evidence of two other criminal masterminds...
These were guinea pig rascals Neville & Beyoncé, our book's copycat criminals who stage a whole heist of their own. (You can find more heist-related activities on the Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit page of my website.)
Thanks so much to all the brave souls who came along and drew with us! Here's an excellent picture by Christopher Taylor-Davies:
I also did a picture book event featuring Grumpycorn and Don't Call Me Grumpycorn. Big thanks to my minder Amy, Nathan on tech and the other festival volunteers and the Waterstones bookshop team for their help!
Even though it was a Unicorn event, I was reading the room and it morphed into a Dinosaur event, so we ended up drawing some awesome T-Rexes:
One of the great things about festivals is getting to meet some of your heroes! I was thrilled to see Helen Oxenbury, one of the first British writer-illustrators whose work I really studied in detail after I got to the UK, especially her book Farmer Duck. I hadn't seen her in ages (well, not surprising since I haven't seen hardly anyone) and it was great to have a chat. (I even heard a reliable rumour that writer-illustrator Jan Pienkowski was queuing for her talk!)
Helen has a new book out with Jonathan Cape, Air Miles, which was started by her late husband John Burningham, and which she finished with their friend Bill Salaman. She said -understandably- that it was a very difficult book to write, and I absolutely must get myself a copy.
Hey look, it's writer-illustrator Alex Milway in absolutely enormous moose horns! I've read Big Sky Mountain and it's such a sweet, gentle, funny book about the big outdoors and the characters his city character, Rosa, meets there when she goes to stay with her grandma.
I was so pleased to see writer-illustrator Matty Long, I love his books! ...Which you will know if you see the big quote on the back of his Turbo Bunnies book! I am so utterly chuffed to have my name on it.
It was fabulous getting the chance to hang out with one of my all-time favourite people, writer Smriti Halls, author of Rain Before Rainbows. You can see some of the beautiful paintings inside over on the website of its illustrator, David Litchfield.
The festival team were brilliant and looked after us so well, showing us where to go and making us feel very at home with yummy food and hot drinks. Judith Dixon was so incredibly pleased to get assigned to Philip Reeve and me (well, especially Philip!) because she'd written her dissertation on his Railhead trilogy and was a huge fan! She ran home to get her copy so Philip could sign it:
I really enjoyed reading Ross Welford's Time Travelling with a Hamster and his new book, When We Got Lost in Dreamland sounds fascinating.
Sadly I only got to see writer-illustrator Steve Anthony for about 30 seconds before he got whisked off to do his event, but I borrowed this photo from Nikki Marsh's tweets:
Thanks so much for hosting us, Barnes Kid Lit Fest! Events are just not the same over Zoom - it was wonderful to see everyone and talk with people in person! You can find out more about the festival on their website, and follow them on Twitter - @kidslitfest - and Instagram - barneskidlitfest.