Tuesday, 21 April 2015

YOUR REVIEWS… FOR LOOKING GLASS GIRL!

More fab reviews for my new book LOOKING GLASS GIRL… have YOU read it yet?

Cathrine says:
LOOKING GLASS GIRL is a young adult book… I am reading it because my niece is, so that we can chat about it. But I keep forgetting that, as the book pulls me in! It is a book about what it is like to be a young adult; how the friends you love and trust turn their backs on you and how perhaps the only way to find your way back to true friendship is to find, not them, but you. Yourself. It's a book about losing friends, loneliness, bullying, wanting to fit in, jealousy, guilt, love, forgiveness and standing up for yourself. And compassion! A book that mirrors what it is like to be a teen, while offering comfort and advice. I love it! If you know someone aged 10-16 (or 44…) this would be a perfect gift! 5/5.


Deborah says:
Wow. That's the only word I could think of to describe this book when I'd finished it. LOOKING GLASS GIRL is a perfect example of why I love Cathy Cassidy's books so much. They literally define the feeling of reading. This story is by far the best story based on a classic ever told - the character of Alice is absolutely amazing and I can relate to how she feels, what she does and how she sees the world. It left me totally inspired. The story had all the elements of the classic book but it still had me on the edge of my seat (well, bed!) desperate to know what happened next! I want everyone I know to read LOOKING GLASS GIRL… it's just so brilliant!


Charlotte says:
I got LOOKING GLASS GIRL last week and read it as soon as I got home. I was excited to read it, because Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland story has always fascinated me, with all the different characters and their personalities. I was interested to see what Cathy would do with the inspiration of this book. LOOKING GLASS GIRL was very emotional - I admit, I might just have shed a few tears! It made me think that what happened to Alice could happen to anybody… just because of an argument, because of jealousy. I was so relieved when the book had a happy ending… at some parts I was really anxious. I loved LOOKING GLASS GIRL - it's a book I will be reading over and over again.

Aleesha says:
Falling down the rabbit hole… or in love with a new book, at the very least. Does it make a difference? Both involve a journey into a new world, and Cathy Cassidy does not disappoint with her revitalised tale inspired by the classic Alice in Wonderland. In a modern parallel to the original story, Alice is abandoned by her best friends when they leave her for high-school paragon Savannah. When Savannah invites her to a Wonderland-themed sleepover, to make amends, things go badly wrong and Alice falls into a coma… and into Wonderland. It's up to her former friends and the boy-next-door to help bring her back. As an older teen, this book brings back Cathy Cassidy related nostalgia almost as strong as the Lewis Carroll-inspired nostalgia I feel for the original book. I recommend this book for older readers - it's good to embrace old memories - and younger readers too, as it's brilliant to make new ones! As for Cathy Cassidy - top hats off to you, ma'am, another brilliant book!

Cathy says:
Thanks for the fab feedback, folks! I am so happy LOOKING GLASS GIRL is doing well and causing a stir… exciting! Have YOU read it yet? COMMENT BELOW to post your reviews!

Monday, 20 April 2015

THIS OLD BEAR...

Much loved teddies from long ago... some of Cathy's friends talk about their favourite childhood soft toys. Naawww!


Sarah says:
This is me pushing my much loved Panda Ted in my buggy when I was about two years old. He was given to me when I was born and he's still going strong - and still my best friend. I am a writer and a book festival curator. I write books for children and often do school events, and Panda Ted sometimes comes with me to talk to younger children - he likes getting out and about! I'm forty-four now and he's older than me. I love him because he's strong, silent and always listens... and he has a very wise face. And he squeaks!
Check out Sarah Webb's 'Ask Amy Green' series of books… or her new 'Songbird Cafe' series… perfect for Cathy Cassidy fans looking for something new! 


Mark says:
This is 'Sailor Bill' and he's about all that is left from my sixties childhood. We have been through many scrapes together and he has never let me down - he's a tough old dog and loyal to the end. He once had his nose bitten off in a vicious street fight - a gang of army dogs had tried to knock the stuffing out of him. The doctors stitched up the wound with blue wool, and it still remains to this day. I'm now married  with three fairly grown up kids but Sailor Bill has never really settled down - you know what sailors are like, he probably has a girl in every port. I run my own gardening business, play guitar and write songs amongst other things; Sailor Bill doesn't get himself in quite as many scrapes these days. He's looking a little bedraggled and floppy - I think it might be his age.

Maggi says:
This is Papa... I couldn't say 'panda' when I was really small... and according to my mum, he was my first ever toy. Obviously I still have him, though he is somewhat battered and emaciated these days! He's about sixty-two years old, which is not bad for a panda! I'm now retired but used to be a countryside ranger and I'm still a wife, mother and occasional writer. If you think Papa is old, I still have my mum's old teddy - he's small and ginger and has only one eye, and he'll be ninety years old next year!

Michelle says:
This is Teddy... he never really had another name, but he was definitely a boy. My dad bought him for me the day I was born and he has been with me ever since. He stays in my bedroom - occasionally if I'm feeling low he comes downstairs, but most of the time he just sits on my bed. He's too big to carry around but he is a constant in my life and no matter what I'm doing or where I live, he'll always be with me. These says I am  community worker, but those childhood ties and values still matter to me and in some ways, Teddy is a reminder of that.

Cathy says:
Naaaww… love the old ted nostalgia! Do YOU have a fave soft toy from childhood? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!



Sunday, 19 April 2015

LORRAINE: I WAS TOO SCARED TO SPEAK OUT...

Reader Lorraine talks about the trauma of childhood abuse in this brave and powerful post…

Lorraine says:
We all have things from the past that haunt us, but often these are minor things that will be forgotten in time; tripping up at school, being laughed at or being the victim of a practical joke. For me, the past was much harder to forget. I always thought I had an OK childhood, but that wasn't true. My stepdad treated me in a way he shouldn't have from the time I was a toddler right up until the time he died when I was ten. I didn't even know that this was wrong, I just knew that it was embarrassing and awkward and I would try to distract myself and not think about it and wait for it all to be over. I believed that as I was just a kid, that my opinion and feelings didn't matter and so I didn't tell anyone. When I went to school I began to work out that what was happening wasn't normal; I still didn't speak out. I was scared of hurting people, of being in trouble, of all kinds of things.

I wish I had found the courage to speak out because even after my stepdad passed away, I was still haunted by what had happened. Flashbacks began to paralyse my life and even then I was still too afraid to tell my mum. I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a serious mental health issue. In the end, I confided in my doctor who believed me and put me in touch with someone who could help. I went to counselling and slowly learned to let go of the nightmare and live free again.

My message is, if you have fears or serious issues which haunt you, speak out and get help. Talk to an adult you can trust, even if you feel scared. Keep speaking out until someone listens and offers to help you. This is such a difficult subject for us all; schools won't teach us about abuse because they feel it's not appropriate for young children to know about such things. But abuse happens to all kinds of children, and if we don't teach them what to do and say if something like this happens to them, they will have no idea what is going on. They will bottle up the fear and the shame as I did. Abuse is not OK, and we need to speak up and challenge it. If you have something frightening in your life that you are keeping secret, please speak out. People will understand and listen, and they CAN help you.

Lorraine's name has been changed for this feature; the picture has been posed by model Kate.

Cathy says:
Lorraine's post is very hard to read, but it's hugely brave; her words could help others to break the silence and find help. Have YOU ever bottled up a secret from shame or from fear? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts.

Friday, 17 April 2015

AN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION...

We talk to readers who attend international schools... and find out what school is like across the world…

Marianne says:
Recently I moved to Tanzania and I go to an international school here. I am finding it hard to adjust but my parents had jobs in Tanzania so I had to come; my school is a boarding school, but I don't board, although I sometimes wish I did! We have a riding stables at the school, and my favourite horse is called Mr Bean! Overall, my classes are OK but I hate Swahili class… Swahili is the language spoke in Tanzania… 'Jambo' means hello, for example! PE is difficult too, as it is so hot here and it can be very hard to concentrate when you are playing volleyball in the full sun and it's thirty degrees! My dad teaches science at the school, and that is a little bit awkward sometimes! My favourite lesson is English and I wish I was better at French and Swahili as it would be cool to be fluent!

Isabelle says:
I go to school in Belgium. We are here because of my dad's work - we tend not to stay in any one country for more than five years so it's a very different way of life. I love my school because everyone here is different and I have friends from several different countries, and I love learning about their lives and their cultures. I board at school, and I think that this helps to make stronger friendships… you are living with your friends, not just studying with them, so you are bound to get close. I guess it is hard moving on every four or five years, but I am used to it now and I keep in touch with friends from my old school. My favourite subjects are Drama, PE and Readers Workshop, and my least favourite subjects are Maths and Music.

Christine says:
I live in Sri Lanka. My dad is white and English is his first language and my mum is Sri Lankan and speaks Sinhalese. They wanted me to improve my English so they send me as a day-pupil to one of the international schools. I love it - you get to meet a lot of people from all around the world and you open your eyes to other cultures and diversity. You learn new languages, visit new places, eat exotic foods and meet and make the best of friends. The only thing I don't like is constantly having to say goodbye when friends from overseas move on again… that can be hard. My favourite subjects include world language and music, and when I grow up my biggest wish  is to travel around the world!

Cathy says: 
Love these little interviews… how cool? Would YOU like to study in an international school overseas? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

BETTY: THEY CALLED US BOBBYSOXERS...

Another in our fab series of growing up in a different decade… Betty tells all on being a teenager in the 1940s!

Betty says:
We were called 'bobbysoxers' by the American soldiers or GIs. Newport, the nearest town to the village in South Wales where I was an evacuee, was over-run with them, all seeming so relaxed, chewing gum and leaning against shop windows. We evacuees were received with mixed feelings by the Welsh residents of Caerleon - although we made friends with the Welsh children, they couldn't resist making fun of our south-east accents, calling us Cockney even though we were from Dover. Our lessons as an evacuated school were timetabled in scattered venues in the village: Baptist Chapel, Infants school, Training College, Church Hall. In spite of rationing, the uniform had to obey strict rules and even the 6th formers had to wear the hideous hat with its red band, the tunic and blouse, stockings (there were no tights then!) and regulation black shoes. My saturday attire was a skirt, blouse and jersey, or, in summer, a cotton dress. No jeans, no trousers!

Our spare time, when homework was finished, was spent at the Lido or the Youth Club where we danced the Paris Glide or the Quickstep. We went for long walks and played tennis. I was given a bike which lacked a bell or any chromium trimmings, as it was the wartime 'utility' version. I was a girl guide and on our return to Dover I became a Ranger, with a grey jersey and beret as uniform. We tentatively experimented with make-up, lipstick and (daringly!) mascara, which came in a box which you had to moisten with saliva (spit, in other words!) No make-up of any kind was allowed in school.

Our heroes were the stars of Hollywood musicals - we went to 'the pictures' nearly every Saturday. On the wireless (nobody called it the radio back then) we listened to dance bands like Geraldo, Jack Payne and the American Glenn Miller. An exciting development was being linked as pen-pals to four French girls in Orleans, a French town much battered in the war, just as Dover had been. We eventually went over to visit and meet our pen-pals… what a thrill to go to newly liberated France and speak French! Our life back then was certainly severe and restricted by today's standards, but we were perhaps content with our simpler lifestyle!

Cathy says:
Wow… I love this account of growing up in wartime Wales and post-war Dover… brilliant! It sounds amazing to me, and I'd love to time-travel back to see it all. How about YOU? Would you have liked being a teen during wartime? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

CHLOE: FIRST DAY NERVES!

Reader Chloe gives us the low-down on what it's like to start your first ever part-time job…


Chloe says:
The idea of getting a job was exciting but also pretty scary, and when I was first told I had got the job (waitressing in the restaurant of a local golf club) I was happy but very nervous! On my first day, I had a really sick, anxious feeling in my stomach but I took a couple of deep breaths and decided to take the day as it came. I didn't want to mess up and let anyone down. I arrived on time and met some of the staff, who were really nice, but the day did not go without a hitch, alas. About half an hour in, I broke a bowl - thankfully nobody minded. I hoped this would be my first and last mistake but I was wrong again!

As time went on, I began to gain confidence and I found I was always in and out of the kitchen. Maybe if I had taken a second to gather my thoughts or slow down a little, or taken the glass of water I was constantly being offered, the next event may not have occurred but the way I saw it was I had things that had to be done and I was determined to do them. I was asked to make three black coffees and I did this, but what happened next was a bit of a blur. I moved to pick the tray up and it flipped over, spilling coffee on my shirt and jeans and covering the floor in coffee. Ironic, considering I don't even like the stuff! I was told it was fine, but I actually just wanted to burst into tears there and then. Instead, I pulled myself together and remade the coffee. I went out into the crowded dining room and fixed a smile on my face, and I served the coffees. I was still a bit shaky and kept my head down, but I held it together until I got back into the kitchen, and someone asked me again if I was all right and I just couldn't help but start to cry which of course I was SO ashamed of!

Someone took me outside to get some air and asked if I wanted to go home… I thought, YES, I wanted to go home and never come back! I also knew that I couldn't give up so easily. I knew I would regret it if I did. My dad has always said that when you get knocked down, you have to get up again, brush yourself down and carry on… so that's what I did! I finished my shift and by that point I felt much better and proud of myself for not running away. You should never let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game. If you get upset over messing up it just means you were trying hard and got upset when things didn't go to plan. Everyone messes up sometime! You know the saying, 'don't cry over spilt milk'? Well, it was coffee in this case!

Falling down can be hard and getting up can be harder still, but once you do you will be stronger for it. On my first day I broke a bowl, two cups and a saucer, but I survived! I learned that you don't always get everything perfect at first shot, which was a good lesson to know. You learn more from your mistakes than from anything else, and it makes life a little more interesting, trust me!

Cathy says:
I love Chloe's bravery - it is always hard to start a new job, and waitressing can be very tough, but if you keep going you'll soon get the hang of it. Have YOU ever learned from a mistake or overcome embarrassment to keep on going? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

ELISE: I'M ALWAYS EXCLUDED...

Reader Elise asks Summer Tanberry for advice on friendship and self-esteem matters…

Elise says:
I'm fourteen and I'm shy and quiet and often excluded by my classmates. They say I am weird and make fun of me, although other people say I am skinny and pretty. Even my friends can be odd with me, so I feel left out with them also. I've tried several friendship groups over the last few years but I am always excluded in the end and I feel like my self-esteem and confidence is in tatters. People have said things to me like 'Nobody likes you,' and 'You have no friends.' I often feel like crying and telling someone about this but the truth is nobody cares, so I sometimes ending up making myself sick in the girl's bathroom. I feel like people might like me better if I was skinnier, although I know I am pretty skinny already. I feel so lonely; nobody likes me or cares about me.

Summer says:
Well, first of all, I care… and if I do, others will, too, I promise. You're trapped in a cycle of zero confidence and self-harm, because making yourself sick and denying yourself food to get skinnier all the time is a form of self-harm, believe me. Being thin won't solve your problems, it will only add to them - I am speaking from experience. It is hard to have strong, lasting friendships when your self-esteem is so low… I think this is what others are picking up on. If you don't like yourself, you cannot expect others to. How to change this? Cathy's book LETTERS TO CATHY has lots of tips on building confidence and self-esteem, but one tip that has helped me is to look in the mirror every morning and think some positive thoughts towards yourself, as you might to a friend you really like. Be kind to yourself… believe in yourself. Right now, I think your should talk to your family doctor about the way you're feeling and about the vomiting; these things cannot be ignored. Talk to your parents, to a counsellor, find some help and support. School days are supposed to be the best days of our lives but sometimes they can feel like the worst… luckily, though, they won't last forever.

Cathy says:
Good advice from Summer… would YOU add anything? What would you say to Elise to help her boost her confidence? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!