Tuesday, 28 July 2015

ZARIN: THE DAY WE MET CATHY!

When reader Zarin found out I was visiting a school near her, she campaigned to be allowed to go along - and her lovely teacher allowed Zarin and a friend to attend! This is what they had to say about the day…


Zarin says:
I simply adored the visit - I mean, we are talking about seeing my FAVOURITE author here! In the talk part of the morning, Cathy talked about her totally awesome and gorgeous books, especially  CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS and FORTUNE COOKIE. She read an extract from the books, and from the very first sentence I knew I would love them! Afterwards, the students went off to do lots of workshops themed around Cathy's book LOOKING GLASS GIRL, but we couldn't stay for that part alas. I did get to meet Cathy, have a chat and get my notebook signed… and I got a photo, too! I loved it all from start to finish and I wish I could rewind it all and do it all again!

Savannah says:
We sat down in this really large hall with lots of purple seats and in front of us was this huge screen featuring Cathy's books; below the screen was a picturesque Mad Hatter's Tea Party table which looked amazing! There was a cake stand with lots of cupcakes specially made to tie in with Cathy's book LOOKING GLASS GIRL - they looked so delicious I could have eaten the lot! Cathy started the session and gave us an insight to her books as well as telling us about her website and the DREAMCATCHER blog. Zarin kept whispering that she couldn't believe we were really there, and that was driving me nuts, but she is as big a Cathy cassidy fan as I am so I did understand how she felt!

Miss Mowe says:
As a school librarian, I felt it was a great opportunity to meet an author like Cathy Cassidy. The children were impeccably behaved… entertained by Cathy and by the wonderful activities lined up for them by Nuneaton Academy, who hosted the event. And guess what… now, the school library's biggest demand is for more Cathy Cassidy books… the children just can't get enough of them!

Cathy says:
Awww! Zarin had been emailing me for weeks before the event, on an almost daily basis… I was so glad her school allowed her to attend! A bug thanks to Nuneaton Academy for hosting such a lovely event, and special thanks to friend and ex-pupil Neibh who helped to set up the visit. Have YOU ever been to a CC school event? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday, 27 July 2015

THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER...

Readers share their favourite holiday memories from years gone by…

Rachel says:
We went to Egypt the year before the Arab Spring kicked off. We did the most amazing things… we saw the pyramids and went on a train to Luxor and visited the Temple of Karnak there. We went to the Valley of the Kings and everything. Then on the last day we went in a hot air balloon above the valley and the River Nile, and we could see people's houses below, and they had no roofs on and you could see people getting up, because this was very early in the morning. When we landed it was a bit scary but an experience I will never forget. I would love to go back to Egypt again one day.

Macey says:
A caravan holiday in North Wales was my best holiday ever. Dad had been working all hours to try to save his business which was struggling, and things got quite bad between him and Mum. They split up for a while and Dad moved out for six horrible months. It was a time I don't like to look back on. In the end, he sold his business and took a job that was much less pressured and he and Mum began to talk again. He booked the holiday as a celebration that he was moving back home, and that we were a family again. It wasn't as flashy as holidays we had had when I was smaller, but to me it was perfect.

Kat says:
We never had a holiday abroad until I was about ten. We went to an island called Andros in Greece, and it was amazing. Our family went with another family we're all friends with, and it was so brilliant - our apartment was right by the beach and the water was so warm you could swim all day. We bought flippers and snorkels from the village shops, very cheaply, and taught ourselves to snorkel, and we played ball and sunbathed. I think having our friends there made it extra special and we all bonded more than ever. They have almost become like family to us. We have had joint holidays since then, but that first one was the best because it was the first time we'd been abroad and everything was so different and so cool.

Jessica says:
We go to visit family on the Isle of Skye in Scotland every year, and it's always the best time ever because I get to see my cousins. Everyone relaxes and we get so much freedom… we do lots of outdoor stuff and it all feels like an adventure. There is something about the place that feels so magical, I can't explain it. When I grow up I'd like to live on Skye, or somewhere wild and beautiful like that, anyway.

Illustration by the amazing Danielle… love this pic, many thanks!

Cathy says:
I loved reading these! I've had lots of lovely holidays and travel adventures… lots of happy memories! What has YOUR favourite holiday been? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

CHLOE: 'LIKE A GIRL'

Reader Chloe has a question that could get you thinking… and change the way you see yourself! Take a look!


Chloe says:
So… what is a girl? Is it a gender? Is it simply a group of people who are all the same? That's for you to decide, but choose wisely. I can assure you, there's a chance it will have changed by the end.

There's this insult - I like to call it the 'like a girl' insult. Do you run 'like a girl'? Fight 'like a girl'? What are the first images that come into your head when asked these questions? Cat fights? Skipping, stumbling and worrying if you've got sweat patches? Do you know when you tell someone between the ages of ten and sixteen this, their confidence could plummet? Do you know that when you use the 'like a girl' insult you could be offending not just one person but a whole group of people called females? Currently for girls everywhere, there is an image you must copy to be 'normal'. You must be born female, have perfect hair, you must wear make up, you must wear the right clothes, you must have flawless skin and a flawless figure. Basically, in other words, you must be perfect. Well, guess what, I'm not perfect, and I hate to break it to you… you're not, either. I know that sounds harsh, but I don't think of it that way because matter of factly, I know what a girl is.

My question for you is, how many times have people called you things or used the 'like a girl' insult on you? How many times has it brought you down? How many times has it made you feel hopeless and useless? Or like it's just not worth it anymore? Trust me, I've been there.

Now, what is a girl? Is it having pride in who you are? Is it doing stuff 'like a girl' and doing it proudly? Is it being so amazingly imperfect? Is it standing up for who we are as a female in society? You choose, because you have the right to be the female you want to be, the female you choose. Remember, female has no figure, size, race, eye colour, hair, body. It's free for you to choose that and everything else about you…

Watch the powerful 'Like A Girl' video/advert which inspired Chloe's words… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

Cathy says:
Wow… I love this video and I think Chloe's feature is awesome. When did 'like a girl' become an insult? I'm proud to be female, but I came across lots of judgements on what I could or should be doing as I was growing up, just because I was a girl. It wasn't as easy to brush aside back then. Do YOU feel pressured to act or look a certain way because you're a girl? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Saturday, 25 July 2015

MARIANNE: MY FIRST HORSE SHOW!

Reader Marianne goes to an international school in Tanzania, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Africa… she tells us how riding helped her to settle into her new school.


Marianne says:
When I first started at ISM, an international school in Tanzania, I found it very hard to settle - until I found out that my best friends Laura and Jessica were having riding lessons. I went along to the stables one day and met Terrie, who owns the stable and the horses, and arranged to have a sample lesson with Priva, the main teacher. I loved that first lesson and rode a horse called Mango; I knew straight away I wanted to have riding as my sport. I soon progressed and was allowed to ride Mr Bean, a more advanced horse, although I was warned I couldn't really jump on him as he was scared of the jumps and tended to stop, making the rider go flying!

All the same, Terrie wanted me to ride Mr Bean in a horse show in a small town called Maji Ya Chai, nearby, so I began training. It was mostly dressage, but in my last lesson before the show Terrie led me over some low jumps. It was very scary, especially when she asked me to go by myself, and sure enough Mr Bean stopped and refused to jump, but I didn't really mind.

The day of the horse show was very wet and I was worried that Mr Bean would slip in the rain. As I mounted, I noticed that my hands were shaking with nerves, but I had no time to try to calm down - I was already late for the first off leading rein event! I did OK though, especially considering I hadn't practiced this event before. My next event was the dressage. The sun came out, which made Mr Bean tired and I couldn't get him to trot, so I didn't get placed in the end. Then it was lunchtime, but I was so nervous about the show jumping that I didn't eat a thing. When the time came, I rode Mango as she is good at jumping, and I cleared all the rounds and won second place. I loved being in the show, even though it all seemed quite posh and serious - and I love riding, because it's such a brilliant hobby and helped me to relax and settle into life in Tanzania!

Cathy says:
Wow… horse riding on the slopes of Kilimanjaro? How awesome does that sound! Fab feature, Marianne - and well done in your first horse show! Have YOU ever taken part in a horse show? Are YOU pony mad? COMMENT BELOW and tell us more!

Friday, 24 July 2015

FORTUNE COOKIE: THE FIRST REVIEWS!

Readers share their verdict on FORTUNE COOKIE, the series finale of the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS… ooohh!!!

Sydney says:
I absolutely LOVED Cathy's amazing new book FORTUNE COOKIE. It was so different and exciting, like nothing I'd ever read before. There was always something going on and I literally couldn't put the book down until I'd finished… even in the middle of a trip to London with my best friend, as you can see from the picture! It's an awesome book that sums up all of the other stories in the series and ties up all the loose ends. I think jake is a fantastic character that lots of readers will be able to relate to. He is my favourite character of the series - apart from Coco! I am so sad to say goodbye to Tanglewood, but FORTUNE COOKIE was the best series finale I could have wished for!

Dorothy says:


Well, where do I start? This book has been just as incredible as all the others - it was a great book to finish off the series. I think it was my favourite out of them all! Cathy Cassidy's books are just so gripping - I had to force myself to put FORTUNE COOKIE down to go to sleep, so I could enjoy more of it the next day. Tanglewood is just so magical! Every sibling in the series has a completely different story to tell, which makes it so interesting… you just can't tell what will happen next. The scenes are described so beautifully, they conjure up an image as clear as a photo taken on an i-phone 6 - very clear! That's extremely hard to do, and I admire that. In FORTUNE COOKIE, it was great to have a story from a boy's point of view, to mix it up a little. I like the way Jake's life changed dramatically as the story unfolded. The story had a bit of a moral to it - you shouldn't always expect things to be the same as they were in the past because new experiences can change everything. My favourite part was the ending - a truly fantastic way to finish the series off! Thank you cathy for writing this series… they are my fave books EVER!

Josephine says:
FORTUNE COOKIE is one of my favourite books now! I got the book through the post a couple of weeks ago as my friend and I won them for being finalists in the My Best Friend Rocks competition. After the first few pages, I was hooked! The book tells the story of Jake Cooke, an ordinary boy with a talent for trouble. He travels from his cramped flat in London's Chinatown to Tanglewood, where the Chocolate Box Girls await him… well, that's all I am saying, because I don't want to give away the plot! I stayed up all night to read the book and read it in the morning too, while I was getting ready for school. My copy of the book is extra special, because it has been signed. I think the cover is really beautiful, too, and hopefully that will also encourage people to read the book!

Jess says:
OMG! FORTUNE COOKIE is simply the best… it sums up the whole series, really. I honestly can't find powerful enough words to describe it. I love how Jake never gives up hope, even when his life seems to be in tatters and he feels lost and miserable. His can-do attitude is inspiring. He may not have a complete family, but family means everything to him and he longs to fix things and make things better for everyone. This results in the Tanberry-Costello family being happy - it's as if Jake is the missing component all along. I have already recommended the book to several friends, and I've only just finished it!

Cathy says:
Yay! FORTUNE COOKIE is a perfect summer read, and you can buy it from all good indie bookstores as well as Waterstones, WHSmith, online bookstores and even Tesco and Asda! You HAVE to find out how the series ends… put this on your summer reading list! Have YOU read FORTUNE COOKIE yet? COMMENT BELOW if you'd like to share YOUR review in a future DREAMCATCHER post!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

HOLLY: YEAR ELEVEN PROM!

Reader Holly shares her experience of going to prom and saying farewell to school… and it sounds just awesome!

Holly says:
For many Year Sevens, the Year Eleven Prom may seem like a lifetime away, but your time at secondary school will come and go quickly and before you know it, it's time to dress up and celebrate the fact that your time at school is coming to a close and the classmates you've spent the last few years with will be heading off to follow very different paths. Prom is a great opportunity to spend time with all of your friends to be together and have a delicious meal before dancing the night away! The venue for our prom was the Ramada hotel in our local town - a beautiful place with stunning views and stylish function rooms. I would definitely recommend it!

The food was amazing, too. I chose an assiette of melon with mint jus and blackcurrant sorbet for a starter, then salmon supreme with white wine sauce and vegetables. I thought it was the nicest food I'd ever eaten - until the pudding arrived! I'd chosen a chocolate tart, and I have to say it was heaven on a plate. It was so rich that I couldn't finish it, but I could happily eat that dessert over and over again. It wasn't just the food and the venue that made it special - we had a professional photographer and a photobooth too, so we got to have both formal and informal photos of our evening… and be entertained, too!

The most important thing of all for prom, in my opinion, is the dress. My advice is not to spend too much on it as you'll most likely only wear it once - still, choose something that is right for you, reflects your personality and makes you feel the most beautiful you have ever felt! There is often an after-party after the prom, hosted at someone's house, so anyone who wants their evening to go on into the early hours can just keep on partying. Year Eleven prom really IS the huge, special party that you've always dreamed about… so when your turn comes around, go ahead and enjoy!

Cathy says:
Awesome! There were no proms in the UK back when I was leaving school, so Holly's account is fascinating to me. Love the dress, too! Do YOU like the idea of a school prom? COMMENT BELOW to tell us why - or why not!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

HONESTY: WE MIGHT BE MOVING...

Reader Honesty asks Cherry Costello to help her solve a clutch of worries on the DREAMCATCHER problem page this week…

Honesty says:
I am having problems at school. I am overweight and people tease me about this, and I don't seem to have any friends. I am passionate about reading and writing but sometimes I do feel lonely. I will be going into Year Six soon, but I am not sure where as I might be moving house and school over the summer. My mum has been having trouble with people on the street, so the idea of a move makes me happy and gives me hope. I am almost eleven and I want to take up yoga. Can you help me, Cherry?

Cherry says:
I can identify with some of what you say. I had no friends at primary school - I could never quite work out why, because I tried hard - too hard, maybe. I wasn't overweight, but I learned early on that if people wanted to be mean they would find an excuse, any excuse. If you'd like to tackle your weight, try going at it from a health point of view; yoga would be a great start, as it helps with stress and worries too. You can get a book out of the library, buy a DVD or even follow you tube tutorials online… the most important thing is to practice every day if you can. Walking, cycling and swimming are great exercise too, and can get you feeling fitter and trimmer quickly if you keep at it. Once you're feeling better, look at the food choices you make and cut back on sweets, chocolate, cake, crisps and fizzy pop because these are mainly empty calories and not very healthy. Don't try to diet, though - I have seen at first hand how worrying about a weight problem can turn into something much scarier, with my step-sister Summer.

Moving house and school will give you a fresh start, so work on your self-esteem this summer holidays, too. Cathy's book LETTERS TO CATHY is full of great confidence boosting advice, but the basics are that you need to stop being so hard on yourself and start acting as your own best friend. If you believe in yourself, others will too and this, combined with a smiley, friendly attitude, should help you to make friends in your new school. I am proof that you can move on and leave the bullies behind - you can too. Good luck!

Cathy says:
Good advice from Cherry… is there anything more YOU would add? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!