Friday, 24 October 2014

AALIYAH: WHEN I MET CATHY!

Sometimes, readers travel a long way to come to my book signings… one reader tells her story!

Aaliyah says:
This all started when I was at my dad's house, on his laptop, looking at cathycassidy.com as usual. I discovered that Cathy does book signings and events and I was over the moon! I told my dad, hoping he could take me to an event in Manchester in the summer. He said he'd think about it but couldn't promise, but I was hoping and hoping. And then the months slipped by and it was summer, and I knew it was too late to go to Manchester.

In August it was my birthday. I went to see Dad for the weekend and we went to Eddie Rockets - I ordered a vanilla milkshake and he handed me two presents, a medium sized one and a tiny one. I opened the medium one first - it was SWEET HONEY, which I had wanted for ages! But when I opened the tiny present, I couldn't believe my eyes - there right in front of me were tickets to see Cathy Cassidy at the Bath Children's Literature Festival!

The day finally came… I stayed at Dad's overnight and on Saturday we set off from Dublin airport. I drew pictures of Honey Tanberry on the flight! Soon, we arrived in Bristol, the smallest airport I have ever been to! We got a bus and arrived at our hostel, which was gorgeous, with ivy growing around the door and big windows!
The next day was the day of Cathy's event. It was a dream come true! We got up and walked around and look a lot of photos. We had breakfast at a small cafe and I ordered a chocolate muffin and toast! We explored some more and then went back to the hostel to pack up our stuff and go into town. We looked at the shops and drank hot chocolate, and after what seemed like a year it was time to go to see Cathy.

We got our seats and settled in and the event began. Cathy talked for forty-five minutes and answered questions, and then she signed books. We were near the back of the queue but it was worth the wait and Dad explained how we had come all the way from Dublin which amazed Cathy! She was such a kind person and she really inspired me. Do you ever get that feeling when you have wanted something forever and finally get it… and you can't help smiling every time you think about it? Well, that's how I feel. Cathy has made me think I could be a successful author myself one day. I will never forget that day!

Cathy says:
Meeting Aaliyah was brilliant - I genuinely do have the coolest readers ever and I was SO impressed at how far she and her dad had travelled to be there! Have YOU ever met someone special or travelled a long way to be at a special event? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

LUCY: THE FOOD BANK CHALLENGE!

With Britain in austerity measures and cuts ever on the increase, more and more families are struggling to make ends meet. Food banks are springing up to help out when things go dramatically wrong. Reader Lucy decided to take up a challenge to donate to her local food bank… could YOU do the same?

Lucy says:

I recently took part in something called the Food Bank Challenge and I wanted to share it with you all. I wanted to help the Food Banks and the people who use them because I couldn't imagine not having any breakfast when I wake up in the morning and then not having any lunch or dinner later. How horrible it must be to be hungry… and yet many people are. I think it is important we donate to people who genuinely need it.
All you have to do to help the Food Banks to help people in need is to go along to your local supermarket and pick up some items that they can use. Things to buy include:
tinned foods
toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, nappies etc)
pasta and pasta sauces
tea bags/ instant coffee
instant mashed potato
tinned rice pudding/ fruit
cereals
milk (powdered or UHT)
sugar
cartons of long life fruit juice
soup
rice
jam
biscuits/snack bars
tinned meat/ fish
biscuits
tomato puree/ tinned tomatoes
All of these can be bought very cheaply if you look for supermarket value ranges, and small bags/ tins/ portions are better than large as they can be distributed to more people. Choose items that can be stored, so no fresh fruit/veg, bread or frozen food! Once you have your supplies, make a quick video of yourself with the items - I just stood in front of my bags of shopping, explained the challenge and nominated three people to do the same. Nominate people from different cities or even countries to spread the love around the world! The challenge was started on Twitter by someone called Barbara Dempsey… it is such a good cause.
As it's a challenge where you nominate people, I nominate everyone reading this! You don't have to spend a lot of money on it… every little helps. Many supermarkets have Food Bank collection points, so you can hand over your donations very easily.

Cathy says:
I love this challenge! My local supermarket has a collection point for the local Food Bank and I try to buy items to donate each time I shop… to make it routine. I hate that people in the UK need to resort to Food Banks in the 21st century, but they do - and it could happen to any one of us. COMMENT BELOW to share if you will be taking the challenge, or even just adding a few items for the Food Bank to your family's weekly shop!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

ME AND MY ONESIE...

Do you love to snuggle up in a onesie on chilly autumn nights? These readers tell us why changing into something fun and fluffy is a part of cold-weather comfort!

Caitlin says:
My onesie was a late Christmas prezzie from my brother. He promised he'd buy me one about three years ago but nothing materialised… so I found this one myself and bought it and he still hasn't coughed up the cash! Brothers, huh? I love it because it's so, so soft and also because it's a reindeer. I believe that a reindeer is for life, not just for Christmas! I wear it to bed in the winter, because I am one of those people who really feel the cold and it's really warm… but some days are just onesie days, and all you want to do is curl up inside and drink hot chocolate and read. Dressed as a reindeer, naturally.

Blue says:
This is my favourite onesie. I don't think I need to tell you why it's so cool. I'm a BEAR! *growls* Tell me that's not cool! When I get home from college I go straight to my room and change into my onesie. It makes me feel warm and secure as well as making me look utterly adorable. I then carry on with my normal routine while wearing the onesie - I watch TV, hoover the flat, catch up on Facebook, feed the kitties - but it's all better, because I'm a bear. Humans doing chores? Boring. Bears doing chores? Delightful!

Hannah says:
This is me in my favourite onesie. Mostly I sleep in it or lounge about the house, but if I was allowed to do everything in it, I definitely would! I have a feeling this onesie came from New Look, but I'm not totally sure. I love the pattern on it - plus, it's just really, really comfy! For me, it's just about relaxing and letting go of the day's stresses, and just being yourself… besides, isn't everybody happy in a onesie? This pic is me just about to go to bed…
Rachel says:
I love my onesie! It's a great excuse to dress up as Eeyore… even when you're fifteen! After school, if things have been incredibly stressful or tough, there is nothing better than cuddling up in your onesie with a cuppa, in front of the TV. I got the onesie for my birthday last year, and I decided to go swimming with my best friend Emily… I rang her up and asked her to bring her onesie (which just happens to be a purple cow) over. When she arrived, I suggested we get dressed in our onesies and guess what? We wore them to the leisure centre, getting a few horrified looks along the way from an elderly couple in the cafe! My excuse is, it was my birthday - and who doesn't need a onesie day sometimes?

Cathy says:
There is nothing as cute and comfy as a onesie once the weather starts to get cold… do YOU have a onesie you love? COMMENT BELOW to tell all!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

OH, BROTHER!

Do you have the best brother in the world? Four readers share the ups and downs of brotherly love!

Lauren says:
This is a picture of my brother and me from when we were little. We fight a lot, and by a lot I mean almost every day. He can be as horrible to me and I am probably the same to him at times, but we always stick up for each other when we need to. We can have a laugh and a joke and we do have fun most of the time. I guess most siblings are like that! He's a year younger than me, although he looks older than me these days - he's so tall!

Hazel says:
My younger brother Kieran is the best brother ever! He was born eleven months and fifteen days after me, which makes us 'Irish twins' apparently. Kieran and I have always been close and we get along very well… he is one of my best friends, and as we are home educated we get to see a lot of each other. He's a great brother - kind, funny and very smart. I couldn't imagine the world without him!


Chloe says:
I have two brothers, and both are a lot older than me. We have our fights, but we get along most of the time! When I was little we always used to play together and make up games; later, when I was bullied for a while, they would always try to make me smile… and they still do. We will always be there for each other and if anyone ever tried to hurt one of my brothers… well, let's just say they would regret it!
Autumn says:
Me and my baby brother (he's actually seventeen - two years younger than me - and bigger by seven inches and six stone!) get on really well. He's very intelligent, so I have some form of intelligent conversation, thank god! Plus, he's absolutely hilarious. My life would be very dull without him, and he sticks up for me if someone is being an idiot about me. We're not just siblings, we're bros. It's a sacred bond of brotection.

Cathy says:
Awwww! I have a brother too, and he is the best… even though we live hundreds of miles apart these days, we never fall out. Do YOU have a fab brother? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 20 October 2014

HONEYBEE WISHES...

At my recent Tidelines book festival event, the fab librarians set up lots of fun activities and a wishing 'hive' with honeybee wishes was one of them… readers had to write their wish onto the back of a honeybee made from card, then hide it away in the honeycomb! I asked readers to share their wishes on my Facebook Fanpage and added some of those in too… here are some that caught my eye...


I wish I could grow up to do my dream job…

I wish there would be no more war and violence, and that there was a cheap and easy way to cure deadly diseases like cancer and Ebola… the world would be a much better place if war and disease were under control.

I wish for health and happiness for all our bees!

There are far too many children all over the world who are unhappy, scared, hungry, homeless, in danger. I wish we could unite as a community all across the world to help the children!

I wish to be an extremely successful author and be the 'next' Cathy Cassidy!

I wish that wars could be avoided through negotiation and peace talks. People should not have to die just because politicians and leaders disagree.

I wish we could be a happy family…

I wish people understood more about mental health issues and supported those who suffer… nobody should have to go through it all alone.

I wish that I'll be able to make the right decisions for a happy life!

I wish that those who feel they don't have a voice could be heard. If we listen to each other we might actually be able to make a difference without resorting to violence...

I wish that me and my best friend could be close again the way we used to be.

I wish the mayor of Liverpool would change his mind about closing eleven libraries because he is going to destroy my city and I feel so sad about it.

I wish my granddad would get well…

I wish I could see the future because I worry a lot about what will happen to me and my family and whether we will manage. My dad lost his job and money is short and it makes you scared.

I wish I had a cute labrador puppy!

I wish people would stop being selfish and try to understand those around them because it would make the world a happier and more peaceful place.

I wish for another amazing Cathy Cassidy series after the Chocolate Box Girls is finished!

I wish I could have more wishes!

Cathy says:
Awww, some very bittersweet wishes there! What would YOU wish for? COMMENT BELOW to tell all!

JESSICA: LIVING WITH DYSPRAXIA

Recently it was Dyspraxia Awareness Week… but how many of us really understand what dyspraxia is? Reader Jess explain what it's like to live with the condition.

Jessica says:
Dyspraxia is an invisible disability. Like dyslexia, it is a specific learning difficulty and like dyslexia, it does not affect your intelligence. Instead, it causes problems with co-ordination, movement and spatial awareness. I'm no longer a teenager, but those years can be particularly difficult for someone with dyspraxia. Getting dressed, brushing hair and brushing teeth are difficult, and school holds many challenges. PE is very hard; in science, doing experiments can be a problem; and in Maths, using compasses, rulers and scissors are often seriously challenging. Busy situations and lots of noise can be distressing, and of course it is difficult to be different from your peers and to struggle with things they find very easy.

There is a book called Caged In Chaos by Victoria Briggs which is aimed at teenagers with dyspraxia. It's a fantastic book which I really recommend to anyone. There is also a great forum called Dyspraxic teens which is very useful and can be a good support. It is always good to find people who understand and accept you. At school I was bullied quite badly - dyspraxia isn't always easy to understand and that's one of the reasons I wanted to write this, so that young people can understand more and be more accepting. I had a hard time at school but now I've left it is much easier… I have friends of all ages now who accept me for who I am.

Teenagers with dyspraxia may seem different as they are struggling with a range of challenges, but give them a chance - they are well worth getting to know. They often feel lonely and isolated, as people don't always understand the frustrations, difficulties and issues they face every day… and trust me, they have just the same feelings as everyone else.

Photo posed by model Hannah

Cathy says:
Jess's post about what dyspraxia is and how it impacts on teenage life is an eye-opener… I think it will help lots of people to understand the condition better. COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

JAKE: THE BONE COLLECTOR...

Meet twelve year old Jake… and find out how a cool hobby led him to becoming a published author at the age of just ten!

Jake says:
Two years ago I signed my first book deal… and if you think that's strange, it gets weirder still. I have an unusual hobby; not many other people my age are interested in it, and some people think it's odd. And most people who do it are scientists who write in a way that is difficult for children to understand.

You see, I collect bones. I live in Scotland where there is the most amazing countryside and wildlife. When I was six I was out walking with my dad and found a skull; I took it home and worked out that it was from a rabbit. I started to wonder what other mysteries were out there waiting to be discovered in the woods and moors around my village. Soon, I was discovering all sorts of amazing things, not just skulls and bones. I discovered old WWII army bunkers, old deserted water mills, 150 year old pottery hidden in the ground, unexploded bombs from 70 years ago… even an ancient Roman tunnel beneath my village!

Five years ago I started blogging about my finds and my adventures. I made myself a promise that I would blog at least once a week for six months, and pretty soon I was hooked! Other people began reading my blog and sending me bones from around the world. Sometimes they were able to help me with puzzles I had blogged about. And the more I blogged, the better I got at it.

Explaining bones can be difficult, so I used lots of photographs. Skeletons can be complicated, so I explained things simply. Telling my stories in a funny way made more people read my blog posts. Soon, I got quite good at it, and newspaper ran a story about me. And that's how a publisher in London saw my blog and decided it would make a great book for children! It's strange now to walk into a bookshop and see my book, or get stopped in the street because someone recognises me. Sometimes I go to book festivals like the Bath Festival of Children's Literature - which is where I met Cathy Cassidy - and I have to do a presentation about my book and meet my readers!

Blogging has taught me a lot of things… including how to write for myself and write about the things I am passionate about. If you think something is interesting, other people will too. I've learnt that the more you write, the better you get. And I've learnt that amazing things can happen, but it takes a lot of hard work at first. And it's amazing fun as well!

You can check out Jake's book here…
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jakes-Bones-Jake-McGowan-Lowe/dp/1783250259/

and read his blog here…
http://www.jakes-bones.com

Cathy says:
I was thrilled to meet Jake at Bath Kid's Lit Festival… and I was so impressed at how cool, enthusiastic and professional he was! Do YOU have a fascinating or unusual hobby? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!