Wednesday, 17 December 2014


We asked what your favourite Christmas song was… here are your answers! Naaaw…

Gemma says:

My favourite Christmas song is… well, I've got two! Number one is Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, because it never ceases to make me laugh. And number two is called Pohutukowa Christmas… it's a New Zealand song, and I like it because it's one of the few Christmas songs that talk about 'celebrating in the sun' instead of everything being all about snow and a white Christmas. Plus, it's a Kiwi song!

Robyn says:

My favourite Christmas song is Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney. It really reminds me of going to the pantomimes when I was little, as they always seemed to be playing it in the theatre whilst we waited for the show to begin. It always brings back happy memories!

Kaylee says:

I really like Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You… and I can thank my class this year for that! Not only is it fun to sing but the words mean a lot to me. I also love Silent Night… it's a really beautiful song. Another favourite is a Japanese translated version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer sung by Sailor Moon… it's Japanese, so why not?

Rachael says:
My favourite - well, favourites - is definitely the Band Aid songs, the different variations of Do They Know It's Christmas. I love the way they manage to gather everyone together in one big community to do something amazing for charity. It doesn't just raise money, it raises awareness and also makes us think just how lucky we are to have presents and a delicious warm dinner on Christmas Day.

Stephanie-Jade says:
The Fairytale of new York is my favourite - a classic, but a fabulous one! I'm really into Christmas music at all, but that song is an exception.

Jasmine says:
Yes, the Pogues' Fairytale of New York has always stuck out to me. It has great lyrics and the voices are great too! My favourite Christmas film is Christmas With The Kranks, and the song from that is my ringtone… I love it, it reminds me of my childhood!

Autumn says:
I don't mind Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses. I usually detest soppy, sentimental Christmas songs but this is a bit more upbeat and catchy. It reminds me of Mum singing as she cooked Christmas dinner so it puts me in the Christmas mood. I did once sing Silent Night in French (Sante Nuit) at a Christmas concert with my classmates. I still remember the first two verses. Fair enough, right? Aside from 'Silent night, holy night; all is calm, all is bright,' I don't know any of the words in English!

Caoilinn says:

My favourite song is The Twelve Days of Christmas. When I was little we used to have this video with all the Christmas carols on it, with a Mickey Mouse cartoon, and that song was on it. I used to think that the bit about a partridge in a pear tree was 'par pear in a pear pee…' I know, I know, I was VERY little, OK?

Cathy says:
I think I'll opt for Fairytale of New York too… or maybe Stop the Cavalry… or I Believe in Father Christmas… or Christmas Wrapping… no, hang on… oh, I can't choose! What's YOUR favourite Christmas song? COMMENT BELOW to tell me!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Another in our regular problem page series… reader Grace asks Coco Tanberry for advice.

Grace says:
My horse riding stables is going to be closing down after Christmas and I don't know what to do. I am a mega horse fan and I practically live at the stables; in the holidays I'm there from morning until evening. I have my lesson and then hang around with my friends and help out with the horses. I have so many good friends there, and of course, I'll really miss the horses too. I love being there and I know I will be lost without it…

Coco says:
Oh no… I really feel for you, Grace. I don't know what I'd do if my local stables closed down. Try asking your friends at the stables where they will be going for riding lessons once this place closes… there may be other options that you can check out. What do your family think? They will be aware of how much your riding means to you; talk to them about how you feel. If joining another stables is not an option, make the best of the situation… make arrangements to stay in touch with your riding school friends and investigate other classes, hobbies and activities that will keep you busy out of school time. Is there an animal rescue or pony sanctuary you can volunteer at? Perhaps a summer pony trekking holiday or a week perfecting your show jumping skills could be fun things to look forward to? And if horses mean so much to you, check out college courses in equestrian studies for after school… things may not be working out for you right now, but in the long run they still can. Good luck, Grace.

Cathy says:
Good advice from Coco… would YOU add anything more to it? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Monday, 15 December 2014


A brand new winter story just for you... Snowflakes & Wishes is perfect for any Chocolate Box Girls fan!

Cathy says:
The last of four e-book shorts this year, Snowflakes & Wishes is out NOW… it tells Lawrie Marshall's story, and it's the perfect read to set you up for Fortune Cookie in May. (Yes, May… the publication date has been brought forward!)

Lawrie and his sister Jas and their mum Sandy are heading back to Tanglewood for New Year… unaware of the dramas about to unfold. If you like adventure, join Coco and Lawrie for a story that will  have you dreaming of snowy Tanglewood nights and biting your nails as Lawrie and Coco find themselves in the middle of a very unexpected rescue. And if you're wondering if there'll be any romance between Lawrie and Coco, a year on from Coco Caramel… well, you might just find that out, too!

Snowflakes & Wishes is available in e-book format only for now, but next autumn all four e-books will be collected into book-form for you to enjoy. Whoop! Right now, though, Snowflakes & Wishes is only 99p in the Amazon Kindle store… and if you don't have a Kindle or e-reader, it could be worth borrowing one so you don't miss out! Also, if you have a smartphone, tablet or computer, you can always download the Kindle app for free so you don't have to miss out!
Have you read this year's other three e-book shorts yet? Check out Chocolates & Flowers: Alfie's StoryHopes & Dreams: Jodie's StoryMoon & Stars: Finch's Story too! Chocolate Box Girls story. They are all available from and other e-book stores now… and they give you lots of extra insights into the world of the Tanberry-Costello sisters and the boys and friends in their lives!
They'd also make a perfect pocket-money prezzie for a friend!

You can buy SNOWFLAKES & WISHES here…

Cathy says:
Have you read SNOWFLAKES & WISHES yet? If so, COMMENT BELOW to tell me your verdict… and let me know what you're hoping for from FORTUNE COOKIE in May!

Sunday, 14 December 2014


We asked you for your best and worst Christmas prezzies… and this is what you told us!

Hazel says:
Ooh, hard… well, my best present is probably the books I've gotten over the years, and the tablet I got last year. My worst Christmas present? Undoubtedly the 'Learn How To Ballroom Dance' CD we got a few years ago. No offence to any ballroom dancers, but my brother and I do not want todo that, even if we DO like watching Strictly Come Dancing!

Emma says:
My favourite presents… well, this year I'm getting a laptop and I am super excited! My parents finally decided I needed one for my upcoming GCSEs and are getting it for me for Christmas. Past great presents… well probably just the little things, toys when I was younger, books as I got older and now iTunes vouchers! My worst present? Well, one year my nan got me fudge, which was really sweet of her as I love it… but she got me peanut butter flavour, and I hate nuts. She also got me chocolate fudge and it was all spongy and strange. Not good!

Deborah says:
My best is actually a present I didn't think much of at first. It was a Playstation 3 game called Dance On Broadway and after a while I grew to really love it.  Now, dance games are top of my list of fave things to play. I think the only presents I can classify as the worst are the ones involving bath salts and creams, but that's not because I don't like them, it's because they're the products that tend to make my eczema flare up more.

Blue says:
Hmm, my sisters presents tend not to be good. She gets me moisturisers and bath stuff, forgetting I have tons already. I have had plenty of good gifts… phones… my MP3 (I still use it even though the screen is scratched and cracked). My Salvador Dali 'melting' clock. A little build your own motorcycle model kit. Piercings. A book on how to draw monsters. And it may seem small and insignificant but Toby
bought me a bottle of Hello Kitty perfume once and it smells just like cherries, which is awesome. My Pusheen hoodie arrived today - I was supposed to give it to mum to put away for Christmas but I made the mistake of opening it to admire it, and I'm too attached now…

Saffie says:
I think my best and worst thing are actually the same. My worst thing is not the average 'worst prezzie' - it's not a hand-knitted jumper two sizes too small that your gran knitted you five years ago and then forgot about; no, for me, it's my phone. Don't get me wrong, I love it more than anything and if I had to choose between a life and my phone, I'd pick the phone. But that's the problem! I am so, so anti-social! I am never off it. But I am also so grateful for this phone… and that makes it my best present ever, too!

Hannah says:
I once got an electric metronome from my nanna when I was eight. It started ticking before I opened it and I genuinely thought it was some kind of bomb!

Laura says:
My worst present was coat hangers. Nice coat hangers, but still… coat hangers. My best presents have always been books…

Grace says:
Best present I ever got was a new purple journal. Worst present? A Justin Bieber CD and calendar.

Martha says:
My worst present was socks… my best was a pony to loan.

Harley says:
When I was ten, I wanted to learn guitar. Santa left me an acoustic guitar… five years ago, when I was thirteen, I finally learned to play it!

Cathy says:
My best Christmas prezzie was a small toy pony, about the size of my hand, when I was eight or nine; that or the Jackie annuals I collected as a teenager. The worst? An orange padded nylon jacket my dad bought from a garage, convinced I'd love it, when I was fifteen. Er… no. The best one? A small toy pony when I was nine. COMMENT BELOW to tell us your best and worst Christmas prezzies...

Saturday, 13 December 2014


We asked for your views on looks, confidence and media pressures… reader Kayla responded with this amazing and uplifting post that may make you challenge everything you believed was true…

Kayla says:
The media puts pressure on us all to be perfect. From photoshopped men and women in magazines to the Barbie and Ken dolls that children play with every day, from the moment we are born we are exposed to unrealistic expectations. We are pressured to conform to society's 'ideal'. This drags down our self-esteem and can cause things like depression, eating disorders, exercise addiction and self-loathing. It happens even when we don't realise it; peering at ourselves in the mirror, zooming in on our flaws, desperately trying to hide them with our different brands of make-up.

The fact is, though, that our bodies are just a shell that contains our colourful personalities. We will have these shells for the rest of our lives, so we shouldn't waste our valuable time feeling bad about some imagined imperfections. There is no list of what is bad and what is good. Big is OK and small is OK; spots or no spots is OK; boy or girl is OK. Being ourselves is OK. If people are so shallow as to judge us by our looks, our bodies, we shouldn't want to be friends with them anyway… so love yourself, it is all you really can do.

How can you step off the treadmill of trying to please everybody, trying to be perfect? Stop making it all about looks. Add little accessories here and there, things that make you happy - your favourite cuddly jumper, your favourite hairstyle, your favourite hat. Go places without dressing up and see how little people actually care. Wear what you want even when it's 'out of fashion'; dance to your favourite album like nobody is watching; look at yourself in the mirror and thank your body for being fit and healthy. Nobody can hope to match up to the impossible standards of media pressure, but everybody is perfect in their own way, I promise.

Pics modelled by readers Kayla, Millie, Cerys, Rachel and Jaime. Thanks, girls!

Cathy says:
Wow… I wish I'd known all this when I was a young teenager; trying to fit in with imaginary, impossibly high standards that change all the time is never going to be good for anyone's confidence. Do YOU struggle to try to fit in, or struggle with self-esteem? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 12 December 2014


Reader Clara lives to perform… we caught up with and asked how it feels to be caught in the spotlight…

Clara says:
I can't remember when I first became interested in performing; it must have been a gradual thing. However, I do remember dancing in my first dance show, aged five, as a multi-coloured caterpillar… and then telling my mum I wanted to be a dancer on the stage when I grew up. The passion must have developed from there.

I love everything about it… the dancing, singing, acting, the constant rehearsals and the buzz you get when you come offstage after a performance. It's hard work but VERY rewarding, and a lot of fun. Being able to perform is not a right; it's a privilege which needs to be worked for. Auditions can be tough, but for me, any audition, however well or badly it goes, is a worthwhile experience. The more things you try out for and the harder you train, the more likely you are to succeed.

I've been turned away from auditions for many reasons and I am learning to accept that no matter how many times I am rejected, there's no reason to give up. There are lots of times I've passed the auditions and had the time of my life creating new characters and entertaining an audience! The most recent show I was in was 'Triptych' with Youth Music Theatre UK - an amazing, intense experience. I loved every minute. I've met so many new friends through musical theatre projects like this… I can't wait to get involved in something new.

After theatre, songwriting is my passion. I've written a few original songs and last year one of my songs, 'Swallow My Pride' won first place in a regional songwriting contest. That win brought with it performance and radio opportunities. Being able to share new music with my friends and hearing their appreciation is lovely. Singing and performing is a huge part of my life - it's the thing which makes me happy and which makes me feel like I never want to stop!

To hear Clara and her brother Joseph singing one of their original songs, just click here and listen… one of those goosebumps moments. Love it!

Cathy says:
I love Clara's enthusiasm, determination and passion… and I think she has the talent to match it, too! Do YOU dream of a career on the stage? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!


We asked what your Christmas wishes would be… either for yourself or for the world… or both! This is what you said…

Imogen says:
My Christmas wish would be for everyone to have access to a good education. So many people have been working so hard for this to happen, and I just wish they could see what they have been fighting for turn into a reality. Malala is one of my biggest role models… like her, I think that everyone should be able to have the joy of reading and writing!

Caoilinn says:
I hope I get an iPhone 5c because my phone is really ancient and bad… but most of all, I wish for happiness and love for all my family and friends.

Grace R says:
This sounds quite selfish and greedy, but I had wished forever to have horse-riding lessons and finally I got them. But now the stables is closing and I really, really want one of the horses they are selling. Of course, I won't get it, but you've gotta dream, right? I'll just keep on hoping and dreaming.

Jasmine says:
I would really LOVE to go to the San Diego Comic Con and meet my favourite actors and idols. I dream of it all the time!

Gemma says:
I'd really, really like gymnastics lessons… it would be a big improvement on trying to learn from YouTube!

Kiera says:
My Christmas wish is for every person on this planet to have a Happy Christmas… this year and every year. Imagine knowing that everyone is having an amazing time right along with you! If it's for something personal, though, it would be to meet my idols… but that sounds so selfish compared to my first wish!

Georgina says:
I wish that all homeless people and families would have somewhere safe and warm to stay this Christmas, and that they would enjoy a nice meal and get presents and feel at home. And for me… I'd wish for an English bulldog puppy!

Grace J says:
My wish would just be to spend some happy time with my friends and family; and curl up on Christmas Day to watch Doctor Who with my boyfriend!

Caitlin says:
A white Christmas! We don't get enough snow here in the UK!

Deborah says:
My neighbour's toddler has just fractured her leg in a fall and now needs an operation… I really hope that it all goes smoothly and that she is back to her usual lively self in time for Christmas!

Isabelle says:
I'd wish for world peace… and to get a place in the basketball team!

Chloe says:
I wish that people would treat my brothers and sisters like everyone else in society, and be more understanding of their aspergers.
Helen says:
I wish for a self-cleaning bedroom!

Kaila says:
I am really looking forward to the new year when I will be getting a hip replacement operation that should change my life.

Laura says:
No discrimination and world peace… or, failing that, books!

Cathy says:
Aww… some fabulous wishes here. I hope at least some of your Christmas wishes come true… fingers crossed! COMMENT BELOW to share YOUR Christmas wishes!