Friday, 9 December 2016

A BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS: THE CHRISTMASAURUS!

Looking for a book to get you in the mood for Christmas? We've got just the thing... sit back and see what reviewer Jenny made of Tom Fletcher's THE CHRISTMASAURUS!

Jenny says:
Yesterday I sat and HAD to read Tom Fletcher's amazing new book THE CHRISTMASAURUS.
And I HAD to read it in one sitting. It took me two hours, fifteen minutes and twenty two seconds - ALMOST identical to the time it took the Christmas elves to make their startling discovery in the story. The book made me make a few weird noises like 'nawwhhahaa' and 'eeoowhhh,' but mostly I laughed out loud at unexpected funny words, sighed sadly at unexpected sorrows and gasped super-surprisingly at unexpected twists and turns in the plot.

Before, during and upon finishing THE CHRISTMASAURUS, the same feelings washed over me that I get on Christmas Eve: magic... and excitement... and wonder!

'They believe beyond any shadow of a doubt, and belief is the most powerful magic there is. Belief is the only magic that makes the utterly impossible completely possible, and the undoubtedly undoable undeniably doable! And of all of the different kinds of belief there are, the belief of a child is by far the most unbelievably unstoppable.'
(The Christmasaurus, Tom Fletcher)

So, this must mean something great - I'm a GROWN-UP who DEFINITELY believes in magic and excitement and wonder! And if I can do it, you definitely can. Believing is seeing - and that's got to be true, because it's in a book AND a blog!

PS: Dear Santa,
All I'd like for Christmas is to have magic, glittery smoke puffing from the chimney in my house. Oh, and a dinosaur. Thanks!
Jenny x

Cathy says:
Love this review - it makes me want to rush out and buy the book, which is brand new, beautiful, and just released. THE CHRISTMASAURUS is aimed at age 7+ so would be an ideal pressie for a little brother or sister, or one to snuggle up with yourself for some good old fashioned Christmas fun! What is YOUR fave book with a Christmas theme? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

WHAT'S YOUR PERFECT OUTFIT?

Reader Lauren has a fun fashion quiz to help you work out your signature style... read on and see what your perfect outfit might be!

Lauren says:
Going out with friends? School disco? Important party maybe? Stuck for what to wear? No worries, this quiz will help you find the perfect look!

1. Do you like big parties or do you prefer quiet get togethers with friends?
a/ I'm more of a home bird - I like lounging on the sofa in my fave hoodie!
b/ I LOVE parties, I'll be rockin' it out ALL night!
c/ Hanging out with friends makes me happy - especially shopping trips!

2. The alarm clock has just gone off - and your friend is at the door! What do you do?
a/ Tell her to come back another day - preferably when you're awake!
b/ Ask her to wait... you'll shower and get ready, but it could take some time!
c/ You jump up and pull on some clothes... sorted!

3. What's your ideal summer's day?
a/ Snoozing with your BFF under a shady tree...
b/ Ice cream and a pool party... SWEET!
c/ Surfing, tennis, frisbees, reading... you name it!

4. It's Christmas Eve and you're going out with friends... where do you go?
a/ A girl's night - movie, popcorn, YAWN!
b/ The biggest party of the year - WHOOP!!!
c/ Late Christmas shopping for extra cool stuff. Oooh!

5. It's your birthday - what do you ask for?
a/ A fluffy blanket and a DVD box set... NICE!
b/ Sportswear, party clothes and a surf board (well, why not?)
c/ A vintage dress, some bangles and a book by your fave author.

Count up your results...

MOSTLY As...
You love sleepovers and the cinema... you've got your comfort zone down to a fine art, but it might be a good plan for you to get out and mingle a bit more! Your perfect outfit is all about cosy comfort... if you're going to change out of your onesie, it will probably be into a cosy sweater, boyfriend jeans, suede boots and a cute fluffy coat!

MOSTLY Bs...
You are an active and excitable girl... the life and soul of the party! Your perfect outfit just has to stand out from the crowd - choose dance-wear for casual, or a striking, statement dress in a jewel bright colour for going out, teamed with kitten heels and a flower in the hair!

MOSTLY Cs...
You like to be different, and you love authentic, unusual things with a cute, quirky vibe. You love to shop and know all the cool boutiques and vintage stores. Pick a cool vintage dress teamed with bright woollen tights, flats, a cute duffel jacket and a little hat!

Cathy says:
I loved this fun quiz... thank you, Lauren! Were YOUR results accurate? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

DINA: NO FRIENDS TO GIVE PRESSIES TO THIS CHRISTMAS...

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER, and reader Dina has a problem for Skye Tanberry to solve...

Dina says:
I'm in Year Eight and somehow over the last year I have drifted away from my friends. One group were leaving me out and making fun of me, so I joined a different group but that didn't work out either and for the last few months I have been pretty much a loner at school. I have people I can sit with in lessons, but nobody to give cards or pressies to this Christmas and that makes me feel very sad. I don't want to go on this way.

Skye says:
Christmas is a perfect time to change things. Why not decide who you'd like to give cards to? The girl you sit with in maths, the person you chat to on the school bus, the kid you sometimes sit with at lunch? Write the cards and give them out, even if you get nothing in return; if you want to give a pressie too, make it something small, like a homemade friendship bracelet or a mini chocolate bar. You're showing you want to be friendly, and you can build on that in the New Year. Make resolutions to join school clubs and after hours groups - get involved and you'll find new skills, interests and friendships do develop. If you're still struggling, talk to your guidance tutor and get some adult support to make those connections... in time, you can find true friendships again.

Cathy says:
Wise words from Skye, but does she go far enough? What advice would YOU give to Dina? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

ALEXANDRA: A SHORT CUT FOR A GOOD CAUSE!

Reader Alexandra decided to take the plunge and cut her hair - so that a child going through chemotherapy could benefit...

Alexandra says:
I found out about the Little Princess Trust after a girl in my school donated her hair to the charity and talked to us in assembly about how the charity make wigs for children who have lost their hair through chemotherapy for cancer. She explained what a big effect losing your hair can have on a child and how self-confidence can plummet as a result. I have had long hair ever since I can remember and have only ever trimmed it, never had a proper cut. I imagined how I would feel if I lost my hair to cancer and that's when O first considered cutting my hair to donate it.I told my mum and sister, and although Mum was initially upset because she loves my hair she agreed that it was a good thing to do in order to make another girl happy. My older sister Francesca also decided to donate her her - she is on the right in the picture above.

On the last day of school, I went up to London for an appointment at the hair salon Vidal Sassoon. I had checked beforehand on the Little Princess Trust website to see how much hair they needed and any specific requirements. Some charities will not accept hair that has been previously dyed, for example, or hair that has had a lot of products used on it over the years. When I arrived, they measured thirteen inches of hair and tied it with an elastic band, then cut above the band and put the hair into a small, plastic zip-lock bag. They then styled the rest of my hair and gave me a side fringe. While this was happening, I admit I got a little upset - even from a very young age, I have never liked having my hair cut. Afterwards, though, I was really happy, not just because I loved my new hair but because I knew someone else would be happy because of it all.

The man in the picture to the right was my hairdresser - he was Romanian and was spending a while in the UK to train as a hairdresser. He spoke little English, but told me it made him happy to see children willing to do this in order to help others. If you have ever considered cutting your hair to donate it to a charity such as the Little Princess Trust or Wigs For Kids, I can tell you it is a very positive thing to do. Each wig requires about fourteen ponytails to make, and so they do desperately need more people (like YOU!) to donate! Not only will it make a child somewhere very happy, it will make you happy too to know you have done something wonderful for somebody else. Be sure to check the charity websites first to make certain your hair fits their requirements, though! Overall, this is something I was very proud to do and to be honest I also love my new haircut much more than I thought I would!

Cathy says:
Wow... what an amazing thing to do! I love long hair, but Alexandra and Francesca have done a wonderful thing here - just awesome. Would YOU ever cut your hair for a charity? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 5 December 2016

MOVIE MONDAY: FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM

Reader Katie reviews FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM... perfect holiday viewing!


Katie says:
I sat with sticky ice cream fingers... and suddenly the Warner Brothers logo appeared on screen. Magical, with the same haunting music that we all know so well from HARRY POTTER. Did you know that the 'S' in FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM is a dragon? I didn't! It's pretty cool. It was all ghostly and eerie for a while, then Newt Scamander's face appeared on screen. With the same cheeky charm Eddie Redmayne used to bring Stephen Hawking to the silver screen, and that he is now known for, Newt coos to his suitcase. Yes, coos to his suitcase! It took me approximately six seconds to fall in love with Newt Scamander (Newt ScamAnder if you want to pronounce it the way they do in the movie!) and it will take you about the same time.

FANTASTIC BEASTS is full of action, wit and romance. It coems straight from JK Rowling and David Yates, the greats that have brought HARRY POTTER to us in multiple platforms. This movie -wait for it - is set in 1920s New York (swoon!) but you will be spooked as you come along for the ride in this spectacular visual treat. It's clever, it's what us Potterheads have been waiting for, it's in a league of its own. Meet the ultimate Magizoologist: Newt Scamander!

PS: If you've read the textbook for Comic Relief, you'll be able to pick a few things up.

PPS: Watch in 3D for an extra special treat!

Cathy says:
This is on my treat list for December... and Katie's review makes it seem more delectable than ever! Are YOU a movie buff? Want to share your views on a fab film or even review one for DREAMCATCHER? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

YOUR STARS FOR DECEMBER!

It's horoscope time again on DREAMCATCHER, and Skye Tanberry has been consulting the stars... will her predictions ring true for YOU this Christmas?


SAGITTARIUS (22 Nov - 21 Dec)
A dramatic month... not everything will work out as you have hoped, but you'll handle the resulting dilemmas well because you are seeing things more clearly and calmly than you have for some time. In the midst of it all, things begin falling into place in a very powerful way... just in time for Christmas, in fact!

CAPRICORN (22 Dec - 19 Jan)
Life has a few curve-balls to throw at you this month, but even so it's a positive time with lots of laughs and support from friends and family. Make sure you show your appreciation, even if it's just in little ways... the more you put in to those relationships, the more they will give back to you. Christmas is the perfect time of year to show that you care!

AQUARIUS (20 Jan - 18 Feb)
A good close to the year for Aquarius... make the most of the good energy and positive atmosphere. A Christmas romance may be on the cards, but be wary of treating it as anything more than a little bit of festive fun... the magic of the season might just be making you see things through rose-tinted glasses.

PISCES (19 Feb - 20 March)
Life is opening up for you this month... opportunities to follow your heart and stand by the beliefs, values and dreams you hold true are right there for the taking. A word of warning... Christmas can be a stressful time and trouble may be brewing behind the scenes with friends, so hold steady and don't be dragged into petty disputes.

ARIES (21 Mar - 19 Apr)
Everyone around you is in full party mode, trying to fit all they can into the month... but you need to stay calm and get organised! Slow progress is better than running around in a panic, so plan things out and work steadily through your 'to do' list so you can kick back and really enjoy Christmas when it comes!

TAURUS (20 Apr - 20 May)
You're in your element this month... totally swayed by the magic of the season and falling for one festive crush after another. There's time enough in 2017 to let your head rule your heart - for now, just enjoy the fun and do all you can to spread the Christmas magic too!

GEMINI (21 May - 20 Jun)
You've had a fraught year and your usual love of the Christmas season has been late to kick in, but the stars are turning and you'll see far more progress this month than for some time, both work-wise and fun-wise. Ride the wave, but remember to relax a little too... you're moving forward after a long time of being stuck, and that's definitely something to celebrate.

CANCER (21 jun - 22 Jul)
Testing times may lie ahead this December, but you've worked hard all year and that effort will be rewarded. Try not to party too hard - your energy levels are not 100% - but stay confident, because you have all you need to handle any bumps in the road that this month has in store. An unexpected challenge may have a truly awesome outcome!

LEO (23 Jul - 22 Aug)
You've had such a roller-coaster year you may be in too much of a hurry to leave it all behind, but even if you're not quite feeling the Christmas spirit yet hang on... the magic will find you. Christmas isn't always about parties and prezzies, it can be about snuggling up with a hot chocolate, a good book or a festive DVD and giving yourself some much needed down-time.

VIRGO (23 Aug - 22 Sept)
Ever feel like the universe keeps playing the same old tricks on you? That the same things keep going wrong, over and over? Could be that fate is trying to teach you a lesson! Look at what's happening and think about what you could do differently to avoid repeating the pattern. This lesson could end up being the best Christmas gift of the whole season!

LIBRA (23 Sept - 22 Oct)
It's going to be an emotional month! Christmas often brings family stress and friendship troubles fizzing to the surface, and you may find yourself acting as peacemaker to those you love. Make sure this doesn't drag you down or trigger YOUR stress levels! Building in fun time with friends or traditional festive activities with family can help you get everything back in perspective.

SCORPIO (23 Oct - 21 Nov)
2016 has been a challenge at times, but this month everything looks lined up for a pretty awesome December! Follow your instincts and listen to your heart and unexpected chances and events will unfold before you... add the magic of Christmas to all of this and you're looking at a genuinely wonderful few weeks. Enjoy!

Cathy says:
Did Skye's predictions strike a chord for YOU? Here's hoping you're all set for a Christmas to remember... for all the right reasons! COMMENT BELOW to let us know how December is shaping up so far!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

GOODBYE MY OLD FRIEND...

Have you ever lost a treasured animal friend? Cathy writes about the recent death of her beloved lurcher Kelpie...


Cathy says:
The first time I met Kelpie, she was twelve weeks old. She'd been born in rescue kennels, her mother found abandoned on the streets of Glasgow. Kelpie had already been rehomed twice and brought back to the kennels twice by the time I met her... she was an anxious, nervous dog and had a habit of shredding things when she was upset, but really? Brought back to the kennels TWICE before she was even twelve weeks old? She jumped up at me, scratched my lip and made it bleed, but I could see the hope and panic in her eyes. She came home with me that day.

Kelpie fitted into our family easily. Our elderly cat made it clear he was the boss, and she quickly sussed that the pet rabbits were family too. My kids, aged eight and nine, loved her on sight, and my son even managed to forgive her when she ate his entire copy of LORD OF THE RINGS. My daughter and I took her to dog training classes, where she was the worst in the class - but she was brilliant at recall, because she always wanted to be with me, and after ten weeks she was given a certificate to say she had passed. (I think they were just being kind!) My daughter did dance every weekend, and while she was at lessons Kelpie and I walked for hours on Ayr beach - Kelpie chased the seagulls and never quite worked out why she couldn't catch them. She still hated being left, and once when I had to rush a poorly daughter into the toilets at the supermarket after a dance class, we returned ten minutes later to find Kelpie had torn up the back seat of the car. Oops!

Kelpie was a loner dog by nature, but after my dad died in 2007 we adopted his rescue greyhound, Daisy. Later, we found ourselves fostering a rescue lurcher, Finn, who ended up staying too. By then, our old cat had died and Kelpie was also putting up with three tough cats and several more rabbits. As long as she had us, she didn't care. She came on holiday with us to Ireland and the Lakes, and we discovered that she hated camping, loved camper vans and adored the tepee we bought after my first book DIZZY was published. In fact, the character of Leggit in DIZZY and LUCKY STAR was based very firmly on her! Kelpie often appeared in Puffin publicity shots and photo shoots, though attempts to dress her up as a festival dog always failed - if I tried to put a bandana round her neck, she'd just eat it. (If you spotted the reindeer antlers in the pic above, know that they stayed on her head for roughly three seconds...)

The problem is, dogs don't live as long as we do. By the time we moved from Galloway to Merseyside, Kelpie was slowing down. I gave her supplements to help her joints and runs in the park with Finn kept her young, but by the summer of 2016 I knew she was struggling, getting forgetful, and needing painkillers for her achey hips. Her heart was weak too... my lovely dog friend was sixteen and getting old. When my mum died this October, the whole world seemed to slow. We carried on, but every day felt like an ordeal, and in the midst of all this I could see Kelpie starting to fade. Still, every day she liked to run in the park. One day, we commented on how well she was running. She circled the park, chasing Finn who was in turn chasing squirrels. She followed him up a little hill and vanished out of sight, and when Finn came back Kelpie didn't. I found her fallen at the foot of the hill, unable to stand and screaming when we tried to lift her. Liam ran home to fetch my son and I sat beside her in the morning mist, telling her she would soon be flying high, catching the seagulls and squirrels she'd never managed to catch in life. We lifted her onto my parka and into a wheelbarrow (she was a big dog, a deerhound cross) and we took her back to the house and on to the vet, who told us it was time to let her go. I held her, stroked her, cried into her fur as she slipped away.

Kelpie was a very special dog to me, a soul sister. Her nervy, enthusiastic, sometimes grumpy and dishevelled persona was the dog equivalent of me, and I miss her just as keenly as if she had been human. If there is an afterlife, I hope she'll be there, waiting for me, running faster than the wind through the clouds to catch imaginary seagulls. I will never forget her.

Have YOU ever lost a much-loved pet? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more, or write to Cathy via the EMAIL CATHY link on www.cathycassidy.com to tell us more.