Tuesday, 4 August 2015

HOW TO DEAL… WITH BULLYING

Reader Emma has lots of great advice for anyone coping with bullying; read on for her top tips on how to handle things…


Emma says:
Bullying is a serious issue that most of us have to deal with at some point in our lives. Not necessarily just in the playground, but perhaps in the workplace and the adult world. I remember reading a statistic that stated an estimated 1 in 4 people experience bullying at some stage in their lives. However, I firmly believe that if we work together we can stop or at least minimise the cycle of bullying. Here are some suggestions that may help…

- Don't fight back. When we find ourselves in such a situation, our automatic reaction is to fight back. This is only natural, but it is important to call on our inner strength and not do so. This kind of reaction is what the bully wants. It is important not to give in to it, they are not worth your energy.

- Accept support. At a time like this, you may feel like shutting people out and secluding yourself. However, this will only make you more vulnerable. Not only will the bully be able to target you more easily, but emotionally you will feel worse than ever with nobody to talk to. Although it may not always seem that way, there are very few situations where talking things through with someone you trust won't make it all a little easier.

- Ending the situation. If the bullying progresses and gets out of hand the best thing you can do is to tell an adult you trust. Although you may think of it as 'snitching' this could not be further from the truth. Your youth is meant to be one of the most enjoyable periods of your life. You deserve to enjoy this time and not have it ruined by anyone.

Until we deal again…

Emma x

Top picture posed by model Katherine - many thanks! Bottom pic is the lovely Emma, of course!

Cathy says:
Good advice as always from Emma on the age-old problem of bullying. Would YOU add some suggestions to this? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Monday, 3 August 2015

EVIE: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK...

Reader Evie was hooked from the moment she began to read FORTUNE COOKIE… read her gorgeous review here!


Evie says:
Picnics, beach parties, bonfires, fairy lights and chocolate festivals… I would be over the moon if I found out I had a handful of half-sisters living in a big Victorian house on a cliff in Somerset! This is just what Jake Cooke discovers, and how he comes to spend a summer at Tanglewood.

Jake Cooke (Cookie) receives a letter from Honey Tanberry, bold and beautiful but with a dangerous streak. She tells him that they're half-siblings, and that their dad is pretty useless as dad's go because he had an affair with Cookie's mum whilst still married to Honey's mum. Jake doesn't believe this at first, but when his family are threatened with eviction because of an accident Jake is responsible for, his world begins to crumble around him. Cookie thinks that the only solution is to find his real dad, Greg Tanberry, now living the high life in Australia, and ask for his help. And the half-sisters can help him to do that!

Honey, Summer, Skye, Coco and Cherry are all very welcoming and supportive of Cookie when he turns up unannounced at Tanglewood, but things take a turn for the worse when Paddy and Charlotte discover he is a runaway. A late night Skype call to Cookie's dad and a sudden thunderstorm make matters worse still, and a dramatic and dangerous night ends with two very unlikely characters finally making their peace and perhaps building the start of a friendship. Cookie has some explaining to do when his mum, her boyfriend and his little half-sisters turn up, but the book's ending is a wonderful whirl of excitement, drama and happiness and every one of the Chocolate Box Girls gets her own happy ending.

FORTUNE COOKIE is a whirlwind of love, family, friends, fallouts, loss, finding, acceptance… and chocolate! It os the top book on my recommendation list for anyone who loves to sit with a blanket and a smoothie and escape for a few hours into the world of the Chocolate Box Girls. Or in this case… Chocolate Box Boy!

Cathy says:
Yay! So glad you liked the book, Evie… it was an emotional one to write, as I knew it would be the last in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series. Will YOU be putting FORTUNE COOKIE on your summer reading list? Post below or email your fab pics of you with the book!

Friday, 31 July 2015

ZAILA: DISABILITY INSPIRED ME TO WRITE!

Reader Zaila explains how a physical disability triggered her determination to follow her writing dreams…


Zaila says:
I am thirteen years old and I was born with dislocated hips. I didn't have any hip sockets, and so even after many operations in my life so far, I still suffer pain every day. I cannot run, I can't walk long distances and I have never been allowed to do activities like ballet or horse riding. The thing is, I just live with the problem. I suppose it's not that bad, really. I am used to it. I might be limited in my options, but there is one special talent found from those limitations… writing.

I am writing my own book, and I even have a publisher who would like to see the finished manuscript. For me, writing is a good feeling - an escape. I honestly think that my hip problem inspires me to write more… perhaps it is my way of coping. I love to write. I get lost in my worlds, my new fantasy worlds where my characters are my family and my words are my speech. Recently I went along to a Cathy Cassidy book signing and arranged to meet Cathy for a coffee beforehand, as standing in the queue would have been difficult for me. It was great to meet Cathy and discuss writing issues and ideas - and get my books signed, too, of course!

So for all those girls out there struggling with disability of some sort, you are amazing. You too will have a special talent, you just have to find it. For all the budding authors, keep going. It may seem hard, but don't write something unless your heart is in it. It's also OK to slow down sometimes, as long as you don't stop. I know from personal experience that finding a good publisher can be hard. I found my perfect match, but only you know what and who will work for you. If I can do it, anyone can! I really hope that you will be inspired by my story - look out for me in the bookshops!

Cathy says:
It was lovely to meet such a determined and inspiring young author… Zaila is not the kind of girl to let physical failings get in her way! Does writing help YOU to handle your life? COMMENT BELOW to tell us how!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

LEAVING SCHOOL… HOW DOES IT FEEL?

Readers reflect on how it feels to be leaving school… and how to handle the challenges ahead! Lots of great advice here…

Saffron says:
I left primary school last year. For our leaver's trip we went on a Harry Potter Studio Tour and on the day of the leaver's disco we had a water fight! On the last day, we looked at old pictures and signed t-shirts… awww. Secondary is OK - it may seem big and scary at first but you soon get used to it!

Chloe says:
I left primary last year too. We had a huge leaver's party a few days before the end of term; all the girls went in a party bus and the boys arrived in a limo! On the last day we signed each other's shirts and had our very last assembly… we were given mugs with our portraits on and a scroll with everyone's names on too. It was bittersweet for me as I hadn't enjoyed the last few years of primary, but I knew I'd miss the teachers. I was petrified on my first day of secondary but looking back I don't know why. Secondary school is great - enjoy it!

Grace says:
I will be leaving primary in a few days and it is all about mixed emotions. We have Year R buddies, and we've helped to settle them into primary school… and we have to say goodbye, knowing we may never see them again. And they don't even know it. That can just break your heart in two. You also have lots of questions about secondary. What will the teachers be like? Will you get lost? Will someone help you if you do mess up? Will you make friends? What clubs will you be in? It's end of something, but the start of something too.

Khadijah says:
Leaving primary was the worst… leaving our friends and the teacher's who had watched us grow up. The last few days everyone was signing t-shirts and crying their eyes out. We had a parents' tea party where they came to watch us say our goodbyes… then there was a whole school assembly which made everyone cry. We sang the leaver's song and the Head read out a poem she'd written herself, then we looked at pictures of the last year and that was that… the end of primary.

Rhuadhan says:
I lived in the islands when I was younger but we moved to the mainland when I started secondary. I definitely miss primary school. It was fun going to school next to the sea…

Angel says:
We had a leaver's trip to Drayton Manor and a Hollywood themed prom! On the last day everyone was calm and nobody was crying… then the bell went and everyone started to cry, including me!

Zuzanna says:
As I write this, I am a few days from leaving primary. I've had my induction days for secondary and I am excited and nervous at the same time… it's strange to be leaving the school I've known for years. All this time I've wanted this to happen, but now I'm not so sure!

Kiera says:
I am leaving in a few days too… I'm anxious and upset to leave my friends and also the teacher who has helped me develop my writing skills and pulled me through the bad times. I feel like thetime has gone too quickly, that I am not yet ready to branch off. The Green day song Wake Me Up When September Ends keeps running through my head. 'Seven years has gone so fast… wake me up when September ends…' Those lyrics sink into me at the moment. There is one thing I am excited for… meeting new people. I want to make new friends and meet new people and high school is the perfect opportunity for that.

Molly says:
It can be the best thing ever to have a friend to rely on, but always let her know she can rely on YOU too, as she may need a helping hand sometimes. If you are moving schools, as I am in September, remember to keep seeing your friend and stay in touch with texts too. My friend (Lily) is fabulous and I will miss her lots, but this won't keep us apart. I'll also miss Chloe, Keira, Lucy, Poppy and Leah…

Cathy says:
I remember that mixture of worry and thrill when leaving primary school… but if you are moving on from primary this year, trust me, you are ready for the new challenge! How do/did YOU feel about leaving primary? Any tips for handling secondary school? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

LINZI: GIVING UP HOPE...

Reader Linzi has a problem… a boy problem. Honey Tanberry seems like the perfect sister to answer…

Linzi says:
Recently I was reading Cathy's book GINGERSNAPS and it made me cry. I feel awkward writing this, but it's because that book hit home for me. There's a guy, like Sam in the book, who has a musical soul, a smile worth more than money and a beat in every stride. I like him - a lot - but he's rich and popular and never notices me. Sometimes, he acts like he hates me. He has a perfect family while I am struggling with mine and giving up hope. I need someone to give me the confidence I need and I know I'll never get there by kicking myself in the heart. What do I do?

Honey says:
First of all, you need to stop acting like this boy is somehow better than you. He's not - he's just a boy, and so what if he's rich and popular? So what if he has the 'perfect' family? Those things don't make him better, nicer, cooler. They're just background details. What matters is what HE is like… is he cute, kind, funny, sweet? It's time you got to know him and found out. If you like him, talk to him, get to know him - make him notice you. (A little flirting usually works for this, but it may not be your style!)

Crushing on someone is fine, but if you want to take it further you need to put the work in and build a friendship… if he feels the same way, things should take off from there. If you'd rather keep it as a crush, that's fine too… sometime it's just as cool. What isn't a good idea is to list down all the reasons why this boy would never like you, which is what you're doing. Ditch the negative attitude, work on your self esteem and set yourself the task of getting to know this boy as a friend. It may lead to something more, but even if it doesn't you should gain a new friend out of it.

As for the struggles with family, tell me about it. If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd talk to someone - a teacher or a counsellor - and try to build a more positive relationship. It's too late for me - I messed things up and there was a lot of hurt on all sides. It's not too late for you… reach out to your family and find some ways to compromise if you can. Good luck!

Cathy says:
Strong words from Honey! Do you agree with her advice, or would YOU suggest a different approach? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

HOW TO HAVE THE PERFECT BONFIRE PARTY...

Want to have a bonfire party just like the ones you've read about in the Chocolate Box Girls series? Cathy's new book, CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS, tells you how… and there are ideas and tips for a whole lot more adventures, too!

* Choose a site for your bonfire well away from the house and from any trees, sheds, fences or overhead wires. Warn neighbours beforehand… or better still, invite them!

* Fire can be dangerous, so ask an adult to take charge of lighting and looking after the bonfire.

* Check a pre-built bonfire before it is lit in case hedgehogs or small animals are taking shelter there.

*String fairy lights through trees and along fences to decorate, and dot solar powered lights along pathways. Tie up some ultra violet or glow-in-the-dark balloons in the trees nearby.

* Ask friends or family to bring guitars, penny whistles, flutes, djembe drums, mouth organs etc to play - and if nobody plays an instrument, have a singalong instead.

* Bring glo-sticks and sparklers for after dark fun!

* Serve soup in paper cups, baked potatoes, hot drinks or smoothies, depending on the season.

* Use a sharpened stick to toast marshmallows over the bonfire - eat carefully, as it will be melty and very hot inside!

* Make DIY s'mores by sandwiching a melted marshmallow between two chocolate digestives. Yum!


Photos modelled by Cait, Mina and Calum at one of our own bonfire parties… awww! Text taken from 'BONFIRE PARTY' on p 98 & 99 of CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS.

Cathy says:
If you'd like more tips on how to make your parties the best-ever, plus LOTS more cool fashion, craft and foodie projects to try, check out my new book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS… it's choc-full of awesome, creative makes and things to do. Are you the arty, creative type? Or a sociable party-animal? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

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 big 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!