Wednesday, 28 September 2016

CASS: HE CHEATED ON ME...

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Cass has a boyfriend problems. HONEY TANBERRY is here to advise... will YOU agree with her views?

Cass says:
I've been with my boyfriend for eight and a half months and for a while now he has had something on his mind... I knew, and I've asked him about it, but he'd shrug it off and say he was fine. Last week I asked straight out what was going on, and he told me he'd explain after school. He kept stalling and I was asking if it was death, illness, if he was moving away. In the end I had to go and he said he'd make a group chat and tell me that way. The group chat was with another girl, and she had posted saying 'You should have told her sooner.' It turns out they had a conversation months ago that became flirty and sexual, and he then backed off, saying he had a girlfriend, and she had been hassling him ever since. The girl is someone we both know. He feels so guilty and I think the girl is being unfair, but my friends say I'm crazy for trusting him. I'm so mixed up. What can I do?

Honey says:
I'm not impressed with this boy's cowardice in not owning up to what he'd done - there must have come a point when he knew he wouldn't be able to hide it (you both know the girl in question, after all) yet he went on lying and saying nothing was wrong. This worries me more than what he actually did. Yes, he cheated - but he did pull back and stop things from going any further because he realised he valued the relationship he had more than an online flirtation. The big concern is his ability to deceive you in order to cover his own back. In your longer email, you say you have both promised to be more open from now on, and that is vital - without honesty, this relationship is going nowhere. I sense that you still care for your boyfriend and he may well care for you, but that the opinions of those around you are against the relationship. What would I do? Well, I'm stubborn and I don't like being told what to do, so in your shoes I would probably go with my heart and give him another chance. BUT... this is not a no-strings deal. He has deceived you, and he needs to take responsibility. I'd insist he told the girl to back right off and stop spreading rumours, making it clear there will never be anything between them, and treat you so well that nobody can even start to doubt his feelings. He also needs to know that if he lies to you again or goes behind your back, he's toast. I cannot promise you that this story will have a happy ending, but at least you'll know you gave the relationship a chance. Good luck.

Cathy says:
Unexpected advice from Honey... but I can see where she is coming from! A second chance may work in this situation - but only if both partners are determined to give it their best shot. There can be no third or fourth chances. What advice would YOU give to Cass? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

ELISE: EVACUEE

Reader Elise, aged just twelve, has written a brilliant story set back in World War Two... settle down for a gripping read!

Evacuee. It's just a label, a tag, a name they give to children like me. But here, back in London, I am finally me - Victoria Elizabeth James - again. I perch on the edge of the dirty train seat, gazing out of the window and choking on the steam as it drifts above my head like a sly snake. When the train stops, I grasp the pillowcase which holds all my belongings so tightly that my knuckles turn white.

I step off the train, pulled and pushed. A tall man with a long beard, who looks like one of the farm hands from the farm I stayed on back in Ebbw Vale, hurries past, sending me flying across the platform. My knees bleed like watery paint on a handkerchief, dyeing my white socks scarlet, but I ignore the pain. I need to get home, see my family. I sprint forward until my shins hurt and I gasp from exhaustion. Suddenly, a sound screeches through the air. What is it? It has haunted my dreams ever since the war began, even when I was tucked up safely in my bed in Ebbw Vale.

The air raid siren. It screams to warn us, warn us that the Germans are about to bomb us, but I can't stop because the Heinkels are getting closer to London. They turn the sky from turquoise to grey: they paint the clouds charcoal, unlike the soft wisps that were swimming through the sky when I arrived. I dash into an old alleyway near my house because explosions are erupting, too close for comfort. I think they are getting nearer.

I struggle to my feet in a daze after the second shriek, the all clear, has ceased. Puzzled, I wander into the street. My worst fears materialise as I survey the scene. I can taste the smoke and tears on my tongue, smell the unforgettable stench of death. I hear cries and wails, fee my stomach twist. Corpses are littering the streets. Baker Street, Waterloo, Trafalgar Square, even Downing Street... bodies are everywhere. This has to be the biggest bombing raid London has ever seen.

I turn into my street - or what used to be my street. My heart skips a beat as I recognise some figures.
My mum, my older siblings, my neighbours, my friends...

My world.

Cathy says:
Whoa... a very powerful piece of writing. Awesome stuff, Elise! Would YOU like to see more fiction on DREAMCATCHER? It's up to you... COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

SCHOOL SHOE SHUFFLE...

Back to school means new uniforms, new styles and looks... and those all-important new school shoes. What are your school shoes like?

Hollie says:
I used to have a pair of school patent brogues that became widely known amongst my friends as 'the lesbian tap dancing shoes'. They had a wooden type sole and so I had many painful accidents when I tried to walk on the shiny floor in our new sports hall! On the bright side, I soon got hardened to my peers (including some sneaky Sixth formers) laughing at me! I think I carried off the look well, though. I have been out of school for a little while but I am planning on going to college at some point in the fairly near future, and when I do (eeek!) these will deffo be the shoes I wear... college doesn't have uniform rules, so I might even get away with the rainbow tights... ;o)

Jodie says:
My school shoes are flat black boots... I've actually been wearing them in the holidays too, with bare legs, except on the hottest days when I gave in and wore sandals. But I love the boots-and-bare-legs look, and now it's getting cooler I'm teaming leggings with the boots. They are very soft and comfy and they were cheap too, as they are not real leather. Although they are not brand new for school, I don't care because I love them, and I have a feeling I will be wearing them until they fall apart. I'm in Year Ten now and they are not too strict on footwear, which is good, as I am sick of the usual school shoe stuff!

Charlotte says:
Oh, I love my school shoes! They are Doc Martens - only because they are the only pair of shoes I haven't managed to break! Well, I broke the buckle on one pair during drama, but this pair are fine! Plus, they are super comfy. I know three other people with the same shoes as me, but I pull them off the best! They're great, and I admit i wear them outside of school as well. They are not exactly delicate shoes, and once or twice I have tripped over in them, but then I am just super clumsy. Not the fault of the shoes!

Katie says:
My school shoes are from JERSEY... which is significant because I actually live in New Zealand, and we bought them when we were on holiday there. I was born in Jersey, so that is another cool connection! They are Clarks brand and have velcro fastening and hearts on the soles, which is great, and they are very shiny and businesslike, but actually they are really boring compared to my other shoes. That's the trouble with school shoes, isn't it? They're not really allowed to be exciting. Although... heart-embellished footprints... ;o)

Cathy says:
All of these shoes are much, much cooler than the horrible black lace-ups I had to wear at secondary school. It wasn't that the uniform rules were super-strict, more that they were cheap and hardwearing, and my mum needed them to last all year. **Sobs.** Are YOUR school shoes cool? Which of these four pairs would YOU pick? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 23 September 2016

MEGAN'S BLOG TIPS: PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS!

Blogger Megan has some top tips for making your blog look great with some neat photography tips... whether you have a blog or not, her advice will make sure your pics are the best they can be!

Megan says:
Do you love the writing aspect of blogging but struggle when it comes to photography? If you answered yes, then don't worry! It's not so hard to create fun, eye-catching photos to accompany your wonderful writing. It's worth improving your photography because articles/ blog posts with images get 94% more views than those without! Let's get started...

Tip #1: BACKGROUNDS
If you're taking a photo of an object rather than some scenery, create an interesting background for the photo. this will add interest and perfectly border the item you're showcasing! Try interesting gift wrap from a card shop or drape a charity shop scarf behind your main object... you can ransack the family wardrobes for background fabrics and you might just find something unique!

Tip #2: DON'T MAKE THE PICTURE TOO BUSY!
If you're focusing on one item that you are reviewing, try not to put too many random items around it - this will only distract and confuse readers. They won't know what to look at! There's no need to get rid of the cool little details, but do give the main focus a bit of room! It doesn't have to be complicated.

Tip #3: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE...
Not every photo you take has to have a purpose. I often forget this and just take pictures when I need one for a post, but taking a few photos every week means you're getting lots of practice and you will get better with time! You might even want to join a photography club in your area or school for a little extra guidance!

Tip #4: LIGHTING!
Lighting helps to bring life to your photos and makes sure everything is clear. Try to use natural light whenever possible to avoid photos looking fake - choose the best part of the day to take your photos so that it's nice and bright. If your photo still looks a little dull, you can fix it at the editing stage by turning up the brightness, exposure and/or vibrancy.

Tip #5: EDITING
If you want your photos to stand out then editing is key! If you're a beginner, use the simple edits built into your phone or on free apps, and work your way up to the special editing websites and software. I love using PicMonkey because even the free version has lots of options - it's fun to experiment with while you're getting to know the features!

Hopefully my five photography tips for bloggers can help you to create cool photos for your blog... I wish you the bets of luck perfecting your skills. Let me know how it goes!

Cathy says:
I love this! I am a bit of an Instagram addict, and I find that those filters and borders make almost any pic look better, but Megan's tips are excellent! Are YOU good with a camera? COMMENT BELOW to share your own tips!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

PUPIL LIBRARY ASSISTANT OF THE YEAR AWARD!

Do you love books... and libraries? You could be in the running for a fab award to celebrate the achievements of student school librarians!

Cathy says:
Are you crazy about books? Do you help out in your school library? Are you a vital part of helping to keep it running, or have you been helped by an older pupil librarian who welcomed you to the library and helped you find your way around? This award is looking for reliable, enthusiastic and hardworking pupil librarians...  they could be nominated for a brilliant award which celebrates school libraries and the kids who love them! The award is supported by the lovely AUTHORS ALOUD UK (who just happen to arrange my tours... they're fab!) and will be judged by a panel of leading figures from world of children's books and school library community.

Why not get your school involved? Tell your school librarian about the award - nominations are open NOW and you can find out more about the awards and how to enter HERE.

And if your school doesn't have pupil librarians yet... it's about time it did! Pupil librarian can help bring a library to life and be a lifeline between students and the adult librarian. Lots of amazing ideas - for displays, events, reading groups and celebrations - come to life when there are student librarians around! I love this award, so if your school librarian doesn't know about it yet, please tell her/him... one day soon, it could be YOU in the finals!

Awesome artwork by Children's Laureate Chris Riddell.

I'd love to know more about YOUR school library... COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

SERENA: MEAN GIRLS...

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER, and reader Serena is struggling with a friendship issue... can Honey Tanberry help? 

Serena says:
I've recently started secondary school with friends from my primary. In primary they were a bit mean, but now they are worse than ever. They push me around and call me names because I am English and we live in Scotland, and make jokes about how I look. It hurst so much and I want it to stop. One girl is nice when she's away from the group, but when she's with them she's mean too, as if she's trying to impress them.

Honey says:
Ouch. I've had my fair share of hanging round with mean girls, and I'm done with it - never again. Mean friends are usually very insecure and pick on others to make themselves feel better... pretty sad, really. As you've seen, some of the group may be uncomfortable with the mean stuff, but will still join in to stay a part of the group. You can try talking to this girl alone and seeing how she feels about it, but when it comes to the crunch she may not have the courage to step away from the mean girls. You, though, have no choice. If you stick with these girls they will destroy your self esteem. At the start of secondary, you have a perfect opportunity to make new friends and find people you can genuinely trust. Be brave, and step away from these bullies. You are nobody's doormat.

Cathy says:
Strong advice from Honey, but wise, I think. Have YOU ever had to handle low-level bullies or mean girls? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

CLAIRE: VEGGIE PIE

Reader Claire shares a fab recipe for vegetable pie - perfect when veggie friends are calling round, or when you want a healthy, warming dinner!

Claire says:
For this recipe I used ready-made short crust pastry to make things faster and easier. Take the pastry out of its wrapping and roll out on a cool, clean surface dusted with flour. A little flour sprinkled on the rolling pin can help to stop it from sticking to the pastry, too. Grease a pie dish with butter or veggie spread and then lower the pastry into the dish, press down and trim. Set to one side while you prepare the sauce and filling. (Note: this pie is open topped!)

For the filling:
2 florets broccoli, 1 large carrot, 100g garden peas, 100g sweetcorn, 1 potato.
Slice carrot into small circles; chop potato into small cubes; cut broccoli into small pieces. Boil until cooked. Peas and sweetcorn can be used straight from a tin, but of you use frozen cook briefly until tender. Once all the veggies are done, use a potato masher to mash them into a smoothish paste and spoon this into the pastry.

For the sauce:
200g mature cheddar cheese
1 small cup of flour
28g butter
100ml milk
Place the butter in a pan on a low heat until melted; add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a paste, then add the milk, stirring constantly. Add the cheese and keep stirring until the sauce is smooth, thick and creamy. Spoon into the pie dish and bake at 180 degrees centigrade or gas mark 4 for 30 minutes, or until the pie is piping hot and golden brown on top, Serve with a crisp green salad.

Cathy says:
This sounds lovely... I will definitely be trying it out! Do YOU have a cool recipe to share on DREAMCATCHER? Tell me more in a COMMENT BELOW!