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 wold 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!

Friday, 17 October 2014

LATIFA: MUM IS A DIPLOMAT!

Another in our series of inspiring mum and daughter teams… we meet Latifa from Indonesia, whose mother Tri is a diplomat….


Tri says:
I am a diplomat currently working in Portugal. Working here feels the same as working in any other country, it's just that the traditions are different from back home in Indonesia. You don't have to follow the customs and traditions, but you do have to respect them… it's the least you can do. Sometimes the weather affects things and a meeting time has to be changed… in Indonesia the weather is more… friendly! It is not easy to work at such a distance from my family. Kids whose mothers work away do have to be more independent and mature than other children, usually from a young age. They have to learn how to do things themselves and take the initiative if they're feeling ill or if there is a problem. It is a challenge for everyone in the family, but we cope with it and Latifa is managing well.


Latifa says:
My parents are always worried about me and my siblings, concerned about whether we can adapt to the different countries we may find ourselves in and if we are OK with school. When I was younger, I didn't like moving around too much. It felt like I was always being dragged about and having to adapt quickly to new situations, wherever they might take me. I had a lot of mood swings before we moved away from the UK and back to Indonesia. I cried a lot, threw tantrums… it was a very difficult time. Things are better now. My mum is pretty fluent in portuguese and so is my brother, which can be awkward when we have a holiday because they get to act as tour guides!
A lot of people don't know that we are travellers, so they kind of wonder why the younger brother can speak Portuguese and the older sisters can't!
I am living in Indonesia now and Mum is in Portugal, so that can be a challenge, but she will be home at the end of the month and I can't wait. I am very proud of my mum, and my family say I am a lot like her personality wise. I have learned not to be over dependent on her, and also not be afraid to say no when you need to, and those are very useful things I think. My ambition is to be an artist one day, so perhaps in the future I may travel back to London or visit the Czech Republic, somewhere I would love to see. I would do things a little differently from my mum, though - perhaps not move around quite so much, if I had the choice!

Cathy says:
Wow… a fascinating insight into a long-distance mum/daughter relationship which helps us see that having a high-flying parent is not always as easy or idyllic as it may sound! COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts with Latifa or to volunteer yourself for an upcoming mum/daughter feature for DREAMCATCHER!


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

CATHY: MY LOVE LETTER TO LIVERPOOL LIBRARIES

Eleven much-loved and well-used Liverpool libraries are about to be closed, and as the council are not listening to protests or petitions, a campaign to bombard Mayor Joe Anderson with love letters to the libraries has been launched. The letters will show him how much the people of Liverpool - and beyond - care. Schools, colleges, teachers, families, businesses, individuals… we can all write letters to Mayor Anderson to ask him to change his mind.
Here is mine…

Dear Mayor Anderson,
I grew up owning no books of my own, apart from the occasional Christmas annual… but I had a library card. I went weekly to my local libraries and they opened up a whole new world for me, of imagination, possibilities, learning, life; libraries changed my life and thanks to them I am now a children's author myself.

For many ordinary people without a privileged background, libraries are education, opportunity and refuge; they are civilisation, inspiration and magic all rolled into one. They also provide support to job-seekers, advice, expertise, access to computers to those who have none. In times of austerity, these things are needed more than ever.

New figures tell us that one in three children in the UK in 2014 do not own a book of their own. Can Liverpool really mean to deny those children a chance to borrow a book, too? Liverpool is being promoted as a 'City of Reading' yet what message can the closure of eleven libraries send to the children you hope to switch on to reading? Please, please think again. Libraries are essential for a healthy community. They are needed by young families, schoolchildren and students; the unemployed, the elderly, the disabled… we all need libraries at different points in our lives. Take them away and people will suffer; communities will suffer too.

Liverpool was a 'City of Culture' long before it earned the title officially. The city's creativity and talent grows from the grassroots up via the kind of education only a library can offer. Mayor Anderson, I understand that you are between a rock and a hard place with cuts imposed from above, but try another route - please, please think again. Closing eleven much-loved and well-used libraries is little short of a massacre.

There has to be another way. Please, Mayor Anderson, don't let yourself be remembered as the man who turned his back on culture and education and closed the libraries; be instead the man who finds a way to save them. These libraries matter; we cannot stay silent and watch them close forever.

Best Wishes
Cathy Cassidy,
Children's author

Picture shows Cathy with eleven year old Liverpool schoolgirl and library protestor Elysce; you can sign Elysce's online petition here.

Cathy says: 
We have support for our campaign from over 500 authors, poets, actors, musicians, academics & creatives of all kinds, including Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman and many other big names. Could YOU support us too by writing a 'Love Letter to Liverpool's Libraries'? Send your letter to Mayor Anderson at the Town Hall, High Street, Liverpool L2 3SW or email to: http://liverpool.gov.uk/contact-us/contact-the-mayor/
Don't forget to COMMENT BELOW - and THANK YOU so very much for your support.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

HOW TO DEAL… WITH STRESS!

Ace reporter Emma is back with some top tips on beating stress… read on and let go of all those worries!

Emma says:
Stress. As a girl who just got her Junior Cert results, stress is definitely something I can relate to! That feeling of being frustrated, nervous and mentally overwhelmed all at the same time. However, through an acronym - because let's face it, who doesn't love an acronym - I completely believe that together we can manage stress!

S - Sleep: Sleep definitely takes the 'edge' off stress. Sleep relaxes our over-worked muscles and reduces our cortisol levels… and cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress. Pay attention to your dreams, too… dreams give us an insight into what's really going on in our minds, and may show us that there's a deeper meaning to our stress.

T - Time Management: When we are stressed we feel as if we have no time to get our assigned tasks done; we feel as if we have no time even to breathe. It's important to make time for yourself, even if it's something as simple as sitting down for five minutes and becoming aware of your surroundings. As a result of taking a well-earned breather you will feel more able to handle whatever it is you are going through.

R - Release Your Emotions Healthily: An effective way of dealing with your emotions when stressed is just to let go of all the negative emotions inhabiting your brain. A healthy way of doing this is talking to a trustworthy friend - or even belting out the lyrics of your favourite song! My personal favourite way of letting it all out is to go for a run while having a chat with a friend… exercise and sharing chat rolled into one! By letting your baggage go you will feel as if you've been set free/ Releasing the negative emotions allows the positive ones to come in!

E - Eating Right: When you are stressed and on the go it's all too easy to just grab a chocolate bar for a quick energy fix. However, when you're feeling stressed, comfort eating or letting your health go is probably the worst thing you can do. It has been found that choosing healthy alternatives will give you more energy for longer… and makes you feel better in general. It is also much better for your health in the long run!

S - Staying Positive: When you are stressed, it is easy to get absorbed by your misery. Let's face it, when you feel low, everything seems to go wrong and it can feel never-ending. I find the easiest way to stay positive is to keep your friends close and the playlist of your top feelgood songs closer!

S - Say No When Necessary: When you have a lot on your plate there is no point in voluntarily taking on extra assignments and projects. Why add an extra load to your plate when you can't even cope with the first serving? Even if you are amazingly ambitious and think you can handle it, resist the temptation; focus on what you are working on now and take on extra assignments in the future when you have the time and energy to give it the attention it deserves.

Until we deal again…
Emma xx

Pics above posed by model Lillie

Cathy says:
I love Emma's tips for beating stress… the last point is one I will be trying to keep in mind myself! Do YOU have any suggestions to add? COMMENT BELOW to add your suggestions or tell us if Emma's advice has helped YOU!