Wednesday, 25 April 2018


A while ago, I asked what music meant to YOU... and one of my lovely grown up readers sent this lovely reply! If you're looking for inspiration and a little musical magic, read on!

Lisa says:
I started playing the cornet at the age of six and by nine I was playing recorder too. I started to march with a local brass band until I was about twenty-one, when I met my husband - at the time he played baritone! We got married and started out own competitive marching band, which was very successful! When my daughter came along, she too started to play trumpet and to march, and we continued on for a long time - it was a way of life really!

Today, my husband plays the tuba and my thirteen years old son plays baritone and euphonium. My daughter is now twenty and has almost finished her degree - she has trained to be a professional singer and she also plays trumpet, cornet, flugel horn, piano and ukulele! She is extremely talented and very beautiful too!

These days, I work in a primary school and teach a choir, a brass group and a recorder group. I also play trumpet, cornet, flugel horn, recorder and ukulele! I love teaching music as I have seen for myself how children who may not be particularly academic can really thrive and often excel at music. Also, the enjoyment they get from it is hugely rewarding, for them and for me! I would encourage anyone, young or old, to learn how to play a musical instrument as it can be a great stress reliever. It brings people together and for some people, playing in front of an appreciative audience can really boost confidence and self-esteem. Music really is magic!

Cathy says:
Wow... that's just amazing! I love the sound of brass instruments, so joyful! Do YOU play a musical instrument? Tell us more in a COMMENT BELOW!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018


Reader Izzy shares her problem with Skye Tanberry on today's problem page post. Read on to hear Skye's advice!

Izzy says:
I have just started secondary school and it’s going really well! I'm not in the same class as my best friend from primary, K, but I’m fitting in great and making new friends. There is one new friend, L, that I am especially close to… the thing is, K is getting jealous and acting weird around me. She keeps making sarky comments to us when we’re together and acting quite mean. It's really upsetting me. What should I do?

Skye says:
K is clearly feeling threatened by your new friendship, and perhaps worried about losing you. Could it be that she hasn't found settling into secondary school quite as easy? If she's struggling, she may be relying more than you think on old friendships, and feel your newfound confidence and popularity to be some kind of dig at her own uncertainty. If she feels she is losing you, her actions may become irrational and unfair, hence the sarcasm and nastiness... she's trying to get your attention, even though the mean streak is actually more likely to drive you away. Think for a moment how you might feel if things were reversed, and you were watching K make new friends while you were alone. If you value your friendship with K, talk to her about this and explain that you value her and would hate to lose her, but need to spread your friendship net a little now that you're in secondary school. You may decide to try getting her together with L, although any potential friendship certainly hasn't got off to a good start, so you'll have to judge whether this will work or not. Perhaps choose instead to make time to see K on her own, both in and out of school, to reassure her that the bond between you is still strong. Making new friends is brilliant, but hanging onto the old ones is even better... and with a little thought and care, you can do both!

Cathy says:
Some great advice from Skye... let's hope Izzy can get this dilemma sorted! Have YOU any suggestions to help her? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 23 April 2018


This month, reader Caitlin recommends the book Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend...

The reason I loved Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is because it is an entertaining, magical, intriguing and mysterious read! I picked this book up the other week from Asda after hearing brilliant reviews about it. I admit, the reviews just don't do it justice! I also heard it recommended for fans of Harry Potter so I had to get it because I mean, who doesn't love Harry Potter? I loved everything about this book, from Morrigan Crow being a cursed child, to the Hotel Deucalion.

The name of the author is Jessica Townsend and I'd have to say the genre is probably adventure or fantasy. The story is basically about a girl called Morrigan Crow who is cursed and destined to die on her 11th birthday. On that particular night, a remarkable man named Jupiter North whisks her away to a land called Nevermoor in the free state. Security could be hers although first she has to partake in four trials to receive a place in this wondrous society. Will she succeed? What twists and turns will lie ahead? You'll have to read it and see! I'd say that the age is probably nine-ten and upwards.

I couldn't put this book down, and parts of it had me biting my nails - which I don't normally do! I had the desperate urge to meet the characters in the book and experience just one more day of Morrigan's life. This amazing book definitely deserves five stars and I seriously recommend it... if you are looking for a new, exciting adventure, this is the book for you!

Cathy says:
It sounds captivating... thanks for the recommendation, Caitlin! Have YOU read this book? What are YOUR thoughts? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 21 April 2018


Reader Manda shares her touching poem which left us with a tear in our eye! Read on...

Dressed up, like I used to
Like you’ll appear any moment

Twinkling, they ask
Who I’m all done up for
I say -
Does there have to be a ‘who’?

Vain, insane
And maybe all in vain
I am waiting

Gold watch ticking away
The minutes since you left

Counting the hours til you come home
Home from far away

Heart full of promises
Weighs heavier than your patched-up knapsack
And far less useful
Still waiting

Months and years
Smudge and blur
With the weight
Of waiting

Last rays of sun
Drain away from the horizon
Until I stop waiting.

They tell me: never.
You’re never coming home
What is there left to wait for now?

Cathy says:
Beautiful, Manda... just lovely. What did YOU think of this evocative poem? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Monday, 16 April 2018


Reader Katie shares wonderful stories of her fave teachers and how they have inspired her! 

All of my favourite teachers, the most inspirational teachers I’ve had, are Ravenclaws. Mr Hill is Head of Ravenclaw House. He is.... eccentric. He wears all black every day, and had a philosophical conversation with me about fandoms on a bus in Italy. He was my Drama and Classics teacher, and with his guidance I skipped a year of Drama and still came top! He helped me through Classics and it came to be a subject I really loved. I don’t think my school has a Classics teacher any more, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, because both of them are gone. Mr Hill went to follow his dream of being an actor, because teaching drove him crazy, and Mrs Fitzpatrick retired.

So yes, Mrs Fitzpatrick was also a Classics teacher, but I only had her for Spanish. Mrs Fitzpatrick joined forces with the French teacher and attempted to drag me back into languages (heaven knows where I was going!) and after choosing Mrs Fitzpatrick’s Spanish class, I have never looked back. Mrs Fitzpatrick is also eccentric. She knows just the right way to get burned at the stake and not feel as much pain. She would always shriek when I shrieked and told me “You must write a blog, Katie!” She was a teacher in all forms of the word.

Mrs Knapton is a Maths teacher. Maths, I know! Shudder. Every lesson I would walk in worried that I wouldn’t understand anything and walk out late because I had been too busy discussing Harry Potter with her. Sometimes all it takes is a shared passion. I passed my exams without anybody’s help but Mrs Knapton’s and may never have to do algebra again!

I have just inadequately described three people I will never forget. They are the reason I see secondary school teaching as a viable option and I want to educate more than anything. I would say I hope they never forget me but I think my voice is still ringing in their ears from the last time I was overly exuberant in one of their classes! (Mrs Knapton is still a teacher here and just last night was discussing Cornelius Fudge’s middle name with me over text!)

Cathy says:
Teachers have such a big impact on the way students develop, it's great to hear such lovely stories!! Do YOU have any cool stories of your fave teachers? COMMENT BELOW!

Sunday, 15 April 2018


Reader Pink offers a very personal response to LOVE FROM LEXIE... and explains just why it means so much to her!

Pink says:
I'm seventeen and have been a huge fan of CC books since I was in primary school, and an avid reader of DREAMCATCHER for these last few years. I am also bisexual, and wanted to let you know how happy I am that you've made a character in one of your books gay. Growing up, I often tried to imagine that various CC characters might be LGBT+ and even wrote fanfic about them... it helped me, I guess. This time, I had suspicions that one character could be gay, but didn't dare think I might be right. I was - I won't tell you the character, because no spoilers, right? Let's just say that when I came to a certain point in the book I began to cry, because I knew that this time it wasn't just wishful thinking, that it wasn't just me hoping for a character like that. I cried so hard I had to put the book down for a few minutes. It seemed momentous. It sounds silly, an almost-adult crying over a young teen book, but I do not care as Cathy Cassidy books mean so much to me and finally, to see someone like me represented in a book by my favourite author... it made me happier than you can imagine!

So thank you, Cathy Cassidy, thank you so much - not just from me. Thank you for all the young LGBT+ kids who can read the book and see the love and support the characters give to the gay character. It means that those kids are not alone, they are normal, that there are other people like them, and that they too will always be loved.

I hope it's not too much to ask, but can this character not be the only LGBT+ one? Could there one day be more? THAT would be amazing! For all the gay kids out there who need reassurance that they are perfectly ordinary, that they can pick up a book with a life changing story, a story that reflects THEIR life somehow. It would mean so much to me, and to others. Thank you Cathy Cassidy for writing LOVE FROM LEXIE, an absolutely wondrous book from start to finish. I fell in love with each and every one of the characters... and I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Cathy says:
Wow... that's an incredibly moving review! THANK YOU so much Pink! I can't say too much without giving away the storyline, but the character Pink mentions has had SUCH a warm reception from my readers, and that's just plain AWESOME. Do YOU feel there should be more diversity in teen and pre-teen fiction? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 14 April 2018


Reader Stefi writes about the inspirational fashion icon Coco Chanel and how she changed the course of fashion history forever.

A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous

Fashion designer, revolutionary fashion icon and all round (YAS) queen Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel changed the course of women’s fashion forever by designing non-contriscting clothes. In a retaliation against the corset she introduced loosely fitting clothing with a low waist-line so women could move around freely. This liberated the female silhouette,helped to create the iconic 1920s flapper look and launched Chanel on a career as fashion guru and legend.

Coco Chanel was born in to abject poverty in 1883 as an illegitimate child. When Coco was just twelve, her mother died of tuberculosis, leaving her and her sisters with their father who shortly after chucked them into an orphanage and legged it to live the life of a pedlar. Growing up in a very strict Catholic children's home run by nuns seemed to harden Coco and spurred her on to take control of her life... and to rebel against all the strictness.

She developed into an eager, intellectual and dramatically beautiful young woman and found herself having love affairs with men who lived a far more privileged life than she had done. She first started her career 1906 when she met a French textile heir and racehorse owner who used his money to set herself up as a milliner. Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel showed her the life of a the upper-class, how they talked, lived and most importantly dressed! By 1916, Chanel had made such a success of her business she was able to repay the loan, and had branched out from hats into fashion design, helping to create the ground-breaking flapper look of the 1920s.

Her career spanned her whole lifetime, with Chanel acknowledged as a visionary fashion leader. Her most iconic looks are the Little Black Dress which has proved to be classy and timeless and one which generations of women have tried, tested and loved! It is said that the inspiration for this outfit came after the end of World War I when, for a vast majority of women, there was a need for mourning. Mothers, wives, sisters…most women were were directly affected by the death of a loved one. The black dress was also a celebration of simplicity in a time with so much chaos, and of course it proved to be an enduring and timeless design.

Her other well-known look is the Chanel suit - which consists of a collarless suit jacket and a slim-fitting pencil skirt, pearls and nautical shirt. This originated in the 1920s but remained an iconic design right up until the 1960s and beyond. She was also the creator of a number of perfumes, including the famous Chanel No.5. Chanel designed the clothes that took the women of the 20th century through their journey of increasing freedom, and they did it with style and class.

There are a few things about her personal life I don't admire, but in spite of this, from rags to riches, Coco Chanel was truly a force to be reckoned with. She inspires me to believe in myself and keep going when things get tough and one day hopefully design the kind of clothes that will become legendary too. Be your own woman, but do it with style!

Cathy says:
Chanel was indeed a fashion legend... and her influence remains strong even today. Do YOU have a female hero you'd like to tell us more about? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more and you might even be invited to write about it for DREAMCATCHER!

Friday, 13 April 2018


Reader Katie from New Zealand shares her passion for the classic American novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD... read on to find out what you’re missing!

Katie says:
The English class collectively groaned as classroom copies of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD were passed around. I smiled as I pulled my own copy out. This was the perfect opportunity to finally read the little paperback which had been sitting on my shelf since not last birthday but the birthday before. I quickly passed the first chapter, which in my opinion is the only chapter that could possibly be considered dry, and began reading in earnest, only slightly aided by the competitive nature of classroom reading. 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, written by Harper Lee, has made the infamous list of “Banned Books” time and time again. Certain words in the book are outdated and considered offensive these days - we weren’t even allowed to use them in our monologues based on the characters in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - but it is the meaning behind Harper Lee’s words that drew me in, and the message is also why everyone should read it, now more than ever.

Harper Lee very cleverly disguises a hugely important message for adults in a children’s book. Scout is, to me, the loveable main character who is also a young girl who the story is told through. She quickly learns her obstinate nature will not get her anywhere, and resolves to befriend Boo Radley, a local hermit, and maybe even save some other people along the way. 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is, first and foremost, a book about prejudice. Racial prejudice is not helped by class or age, but racial prejudice is still rife even today. So when, and only when, everybody has read it or can understand its key messages, will the world be able to move forward. Harper Lee introduced the revolutionary concept of respecting everybody, and not taking advantage of a person’s innocence, at grassroots level. She introduced this concept to children. So maybe children will be able to understand more than adults. Scout, Jem and Dill don’t have preconceived opinions about anybody, and do not let others’ opinions impede their progress. We all need to live a little bit more like the children in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and it starts with reading the extraordinary novel by Harper Lee. 

PS. I also really enjoyed a book called I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD, which is a novel where children try to take TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD off the Banned Books list and get people reading it. It helped me understand the impact of the original book... well worth checking out!

Cathy says:
Wow, great review from Katie! I agree, its impact and importance is one that is universal and it should be a staple for everyone, not just children! Have YOU read it? Do YOU agree with Katie? What did it mean to YOU? Pop to the COMMENTS SECTION below and let us know!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER, and reader Paula has a question for HONEY TANBERRY about social media and how it seems to rule her life...

Paula says:
I think I am addicted to social media sites on the internet and it is getting me down. If I post a selfie or make any kind of post online, I panic that not enough people will 'like' it and if only a few seem to comment I take it down and feel really upset, as if nobody understands or cares about me. I feel irrationally jealous of other people's posts because they always seem to be having more fun than me. My dream is to have a super-successful Instagram account so that everyone knows me and maybe then write a book, but deep down I know that this will never happen and that even if it did, it really wouldn't be good for me. I have got to the point where I'd rather stay in with my phone than go out with my friends. Should I worry?

Honey says:
We are all addicted to social media to some extent... it's easy to feel envious of others or upset if a picture doesn't get enough 'likes' because the whole point of social media is to hook us in. And when we follow accounts of people who post about their designer clothes, their rock star boyfriends, their showbiz social life, their perfect pets and spiritual yoga sessions, it's not hard to feel a bit inferior. The thing is, social media isn't real... pictures are staged and filtered, comments carefully edited, timings all planned out. Whatever your phone implies, the rest of the world is NOT living a perfect life. When I lived in Australia briefly I was quite dependent on social media and boy did it backfire on me... it was only by stepping away from this and focusing on real life that I began to understand how toxic the internet could be. Now I limit the time I spend online, because the actual people in my life are more important than the pictures on my Instagram feed. I'm more interested in living my life than trying to document it all online. Try to spend more time with your friends and limit screen time to find a healthier balance... we all know the kick of a post that gets lots of attention online, but the internet has a darker side too. If your real life is filled with friendship, fun and adventure, you'll find you naturally rely less on social media... give it a go!

Cathy says:
I agree with Honey on this one... social media can be bad for our mental health and most of us know it can be addictive. Have YOU got any good advice for Paula? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 9 April 2018


Reader Katie has a fabulous Fan-Fic story for you, peeking into the future of favourite character Summer Tanberry...

'I’m going to catch you!' Summer’s 'Dancing Tots' scattered around on tippy-toe as she closed her eyes.

'One, two, three....' and then Summer grew up. She was still sitting on the floor of the dance studio, head in hands. Only now she was a seasoned dance teacher with years of experience under her belt, a little weary today and nostalgic for what might have been.

Tap, tap, tap. Summer looked up and saw Abby, in her tap shoes. Just a few years ago she had been a dancing tot, and was now eager to apply for all the major performing arts schools in the country, well aware she was qualified for more than half already. This young girl with her whole future mapped out smiled down at Summer, offering a hand.

'Run through my solo with me? Please?' Summer took Abby’s hand and began to shimmy across the studio. Soon it was only a matter of correcting Abby’s elbows and knees, before she was off prancing around the studio by herself. Swept up in the music, Summer tried for the tricky combination she could not master and - it clicked!

'That. Was. Incredible.' breathed Abby, tired out from her jazz solo. Summer smiled, modestly bowing her head.

'I had been trying for hours to get that right! I thought the whole dance was ruined! It was your influence, my protege!' Summer performed a graceful grand jeté and landed just shy of Abby. She scarpered, dashing into the broom cupboard on tip toe as if they were playing hide and seek again.

Summer sighed and leaned on the barre. 'All grown up.'

Cathy says:
So poignant and lovely... thank you, Katie! Would YOU like to take part in the regular story challenges and maybe see your work here on DREAMCATCHER? Go give a 'like' to the FB FANPAGE to stay up to date with what's going on! And remember to COMMENT BELOW to tell me how you liked the story!

Sunday, 8 April 2018


Reader Jess writes about her hero... acclaimed Gothic novelist and 19th century bohemian Mary Shelley...

'As a child, I scribbled; and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to write stories...'

You probably know her as the woman who wrote the iconic novel Frankenstein but did you realise that at the tender age of nineteen, she all but invented the genre science-fiction as we know it today? Her creation has been chopped, changed, evolved and creatively re-imagined over time, giving us one of popular culture's most iconic horror personalities in the world. I thought she would be a great topic to write about for this blog because this is a space dedicated to inspiring young girls and boys to write and dream and never give up.

She was daughter to radical philosopher William Godwin and famed early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, author of The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, so from the word go she was bound to create a stir. At the age of 16, she met the poet Percy Shelley, who was destined to change her life forever.

He was still married to his first wife when he and Mary ran away together to mainland Europe. They traveled for some time but their radical, bohemian lifestyle eventually came to an end when they ran out of money and faced the loss of their first child. It was while they were staying near Lake Geneva, in Switzerland that the idea for Frankenstein was first hatched. After a session of folk tales and ghost stories, their friend Lord Byron daringly challenged all present - himself, Percy, Mary, Mary’s sister Jane Claremont and friend John Polidori - to dream up their own horror story. Mary immediately began to hash out the first drafts of her brilliant and most famous novel Frankenstein. It was published in 1818 to great acclaim, eventually becoming one of the great classics and helping to create the horror/ science fiction genre in literature.

Eventually,  Percy's first wife died, allowing Mary and Percy to marry. Mary only had one surviving son, Percy Florence, the other three having died in childbirth, and in 1822, Percy Shelley himself drowned whilst sailing with a friend. Although Mary remained dedicated and prolific with her writing, her life was one of heartache and tragedy. This great sadness may have seeped into her writing… her own personal horror show.

Her feminist legacy is often overlooked when people name-drop famous female heroes but for me, this teenager who changed the course of literary history, out-writing her contemporaries such as Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, she is my hero.

Cathy says:
Mary Shelley is a character who has fascinated me for a vey long time... to live the rule-breaking life she did back in the early 1800s took great courage and conviction, and her literary achievements often out shadowed her more famous male contemporaries. Read more about the real Mary Shelley in Fiona Sampson's acclaimed biography, In Search of Mary Shelley, and check out my book LOVE FROM LEXIE to read about the cool tortoise character who shares her name! Don't forget to COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 7 April 2018


Time for your stars! Skye has cast your horoscopes and shed her wisdom... read on to see if her predictions ring true!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20

Take a deep breath, let your hair down and stretch into the sunshine! This is your month to be your best self. Energy from the new moon will help you through a tough time and out the other side.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Use your own inner magic to create positivity around your family and friends. This comes naturally to you but this month, some may need your magic more than ever. On a personal level, make sure you take extra care of your health.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
This month is for honing your craft. Whether it be writing, dancing, football or singing…whatever it is, make sure you leave enough time to immerse yourself into it. On a deep level, there is always a reward for passion.

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Outside is where you feel most at peace, in a forest or a park…but often you neglect this side of you. With the promise of sunshine comes a promise of happiness. Wriggle your toes in the grass, breathe the air at the top of a hill. Give yourself a new perspective!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Planning, planning, planning! Get your organisation cap on and get stuck into structuring your dream. Imagination, passion and confidence are key of course but without solid foundations, a building would fall right over. Time to get practical!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
There is some tension in the air this month between you and a friend. Try to overcome this with strength and humility. Even though it may stem from something minor, it has potential to blow up out of all proportion. Put things into perspective.

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
There is a strong source of energy telling you to spread your wings! You are known to be organised and ordered but why not introduce a spot of fantasy into your life and practice the art of dreaming! This will create balance and peace!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
There is a love interest on the horizon this month, it may not be from someone new but a change in dynamic to this relationship may cause you to realise feelings that may not have been apparent up until now. Don’t be too scared to make the first move!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
You’re never one to have both feet on the ground - you’re always up to several tricks at once! Be careful not to over-complicate your life though, maybe it is time to have an emotional spring clean? Focus on the things that bring you the most joy.

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
Your humour is often your way of avoiding difficult situations and although this is a gift, it’s good to face your problems. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and show people your serious side. You may find people take you more seriously.

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
You’re a dreamer, everyone says so! Often fantasy is preferable than real life… while this has it’s obvious creative perks, it can sometimes make you appear unapproachable. Don’t neglect what is right in front of you…friends and family may need you this month! Observation is important.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
You love being able to do everything… and often you can! However, be careful not to make promises you can’t keep… you may upset someone you love. It’s ok to say no if you feel it’s too much on your plate. Look after your own health.

Cathy says:
WOWEE! Lots in store this month! Do Skye's predictions chime for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Monday, 2 April 2018


This Easter Monday, readers tell us about their dream holiday destinations and perfect escapes... 

Lara says:
I'd go to a desert island, the kind with white sand and turquoise sea and sunshine all day long. No crocodiles or snakes or giant cockroaches... but maybe some friendly monkeys and a ready supply of pineapples and other fresh fruits. If I get bored, I can explore and maybe meet a cute boy recently shipwrecked and washed up on the beach nearby. We'd never get bored and never light a fire to try to attract attention so we could be rescued. At least, not until after my GCSE exams are over, later this year, anyway!

Katie says:
Well, I’ve kind of just escaped in real life - we had a problem with the water supply in the town where we live in New Zealand. While it was being fixed, we had a mini beach holiday, but without Mum, because she had to stay and go on working. So next time I get to escape I’m taking Mum! I have a lot of trips planned - Ed Sheeran, Armageddon, Europe - so I’m just counting down to those! We can use the water now, but we still have to boil it to drink it.

Anne says: 
Mine is quite simple... a caravan park, with sandwiches to eat on the trip!

Zaila says:
I'd like to get in a night flight to Thailand and stay at one of the best spas they have, and get massages and seaweed wraps all day. If someone could arrange that it would be great?

Blue says:
I'm not in much of a "leaving the house" kind of mood today. In fact, I'm not in a "leaving my room" kind of mood. Seriously, I realised I needed the bathroom a while ago yet it's been about half an hour and I've only just managed to move myself from lying down to sitting up. The door seems very far away but I'm sure the room is the same size it's always been. So if I could go anywhere, I guess I'd go to the bathroom. I wouldn't take anyone with me though, because that would be a bit weird! I'd like to cuddle with my cats when I come back though. Elsa fell asleep in my arms earlier and it's the best I've felt in the past few days. Everyone needs an Elsa.

Lindy says: 
I can go anywhere, right? Well, my great escape would be to the 1860s or the 1930s!

Arlia says:
I'd go to Hobart to visit my boyfriend!

Sonia says:
Dream destination? Has to be Tanglewood, because I could get to know the Tanberry sisters and their friends and share their lives for real and not just through the pages of a book! Although if that's not possible, a weekend curled up with my CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series will do!

Cathy says:
I'm loving the imaginative answers here, a holiday into the past sounds fab! What is YOUR dream escape? Click to FOLLOW the blog and leave a COMMENT BELOW...

Saturday, 31 March 2018


I met student Becky at the Bath Kid's Lit Festival in the autumn of 2017 and asked her to write a little about her cool degree course and career plans... this is what she had to say!

Becky says:
I am nineteen years old and I'm meant to be a 'grown up' but I still feel like a kid. I'm thinking lots of you may enjoy writing - I love writing too! It's pretty cool, right? You get to make up stories and daydream, two things that i did a lot growing up.

I grew up in a small village on the outskirts of Bristol. I lived there with my parents, my brother, my twin sister and my black and white cat Izzy. My favourite subject was Literacy, and then, when I went to secondary school, English Literature and Media Studies. I worked really hard at school and Sixth Form, and it really paid off. I live in Bath now and attend Bath Spa University - I am in my first year of a degree in Creative Writing and Media Communications, which sounds both terrifying and fancy. Terrifyingly fancy!

This course is SO much fun - you guys would love it! We talk about books and writers, we discuss Harry Potter and magic, we look at each other's writing and offer advice. That's just one part of the Creative Writing side of my degree. The other part has us creating worlds and writing scripts for them, working in groups to write what the characters might say on screen. The best way to describe it is that I get to write what people like DIZZY or LEXIE would say if they were on your TV screen... that's cool, don't you think?

I'm not yet sure where I will end up when I finish my degree, but I am excited about my future and my writing. I am hoping it will end in a job where I can write my stories and people will want to read them! There are plenty of ways to get where you're going and you don't always have to know where that destination is... but if it's something you love to do, then believe in yourself  and go for it. You've got this!

Cathy says:
I wish Becky all the luck in the world... her degree course sounds just about perfect! What are YOUR career hopes and dreams? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 30 March 2018


Reader Isobel was over the moon when she found a copy of her favourite CC book in a second-hand bookshop... but that book had a story of its own to tell!

Isobel says:
I first borrowed Cathy Cassidy's book GINGERSNAPS from my school library a while ago, and loved it so much that I kept borrowing it over and over, and basically kept it for the whole of the school year... I loved it so much!  Every year, we go on a family holiday to a place called Kippford on the Solway Coast in Scotland, and whenever we go, we always make sure to visit Wigtown, the book town. We're all great readers in our family, and love nothing better than spending a few hours in the book shops there, browsing and having coffee and lunch. Anyway, we were in a bookshop called Reading Lasses and my granddad was looking in the children's section, and he came across a copy of GINGERSNAPS. Mum told him it was my favourite book, and so he bought it for me as a surprise.

When he gave it to me, I was over the moon, and started to read it again straight away. To my surprise, I found a little note tucked in the inside cover! The note said:

Happy Birthday Soph! Just wanted you to know you are one of my best friends. You give great advice and give me a smile when I need one! This book is about friendship but unlike Shannon and Ginger, ours will NEVER fall apart! Geri xxx

My family and I talked about how good it is to share books that you love with others, and I wrote about the whole thing for school when I went back home... it all made such an impression on me.

In May of 2017, we were on another family holiday, this time near Peebles, and my mum, my gran and myself were all taking turns reading ANGEL CAKE out loud to each other in the car. Mum looked the Cathy Cassidy website up on my phone, and that's when we discovered that there was going to be a design-a-cupcake book event with Cathy Cassidy in Manchester at their book festival. It sounded great, so on the spur of the moment we decided to drive down to Manchester and meet the person who wrote GINGERSNAPS! I got to meet Cathy, have LOVE FROM LEXIE signed, and I also told her about my copy of GINGERSNAPS and the lovely note I'd found. Cathy thought this was a great story and suggested putting it on the DREAMCATCHER blog!

I am at secondary school now, but if you ask me what my favourite book in the world is, I’d still say GINGERSNAPS!

Cathy says:
This is so special - thank you for sharing the story, Isobel! Sharing books is one of my favourite things to do. I really hope Geri and Sophie are still great friends! Tell us what YOU think in the COMMENTS SECTION below...

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Regular columnist Laura has some advice on how to give a compliment - and how to receive one without ignoring or arguing about it!

Laura says:
I used to be very bad at getting compliments. If someone said something nice about my hair or style, I’d argue that they were wrong, that my shoes were old and dull, that my hair was a mess. I thought I was being nice, showing that I wasn’t big-headed, but actually I was throwing the compliment back at the people who’d said something nice. And I know that would hurt me a bit if someone did it to me. So here is how to say something nice to others... and how to accept a compliment when one comes your way!

Make sure you mean it! If you’re just trying to flatter, it will seem insincere.
Wait for the right moment! Be natural and make it clear you don’t expect anything in return!
Don’t overdo it! Too much enthusiasm will make you look needy and may embarrass the person!
Be original! Wait until there’s something that really catches your attention!

Smile! Look the person in the eye and say thanks... it’s really that easy!
Be friendly! Giving a compliment is a good way to make friendly contact, so show that you appreciate their effort!
Don’t argue! Arguing about a compliment is rude... you wouldn’t reject a present, so why turn down a compliment?
Be modest! Accepting a compliment is great, but don’t over-do it by singing your own praises... that’s just as dodgy!
Believe it! Compliments are rare, so appreciate them... someone has reached out to say something positive to you, which is kind of awesome.

Shouldn’t we all give more compliments when we can? I think so!

Cathy says:
Definitely agree with Laura, compliments are so easy and can make someone's day! Do YOU agree? If so COMMENT BELOW with your views!

Monday, 26 March 2018


We asked readers which of life's simple pleasures they loved the most! Here's what they said...

Priya says:
Cooking - baking to be precise - always cheers me up. I’ve grown up helping my mum, and now I am seriously getting into baking and cake making, plus eating the results is always a lot of fun. (Bake-Off has a lot to answer for!)

Sara says:
Dance class. It’s where all my troubles check out and I feel really strong and free.

Maia says:
Sounds a bit shallow, but shopping is my favourite way to chill out. It doesn’t matter if I can’t actually buy anything, just looking and trying things on is good enough!

Jenna says:
I love drawing Manga cartoons...

Lara says:
TV... I am a bit addicted to soaps, reality shows and anything on Netflix!

Kellie says:
We have a summer house at the end of the garden and it has a wickerwork sofa with squashy cushions and blankets. It’s my getaway place to read, daydream or chill out with friends (there’s a heater, so it’s even good in the winter!)

Maia says:
Sounds mad but I love books about 'hygge' and 'lykke' the Danish ways to chill out and be happy, and the Swedish 'lagom' as well. I have these little books that really inspire me and one day I plan to travel to Denmark and Sweden and maybe even live there!

Jo says:
I’m knitting a scarf and it is surprisingly addictive! I’m not very good - yet - but I have to knit a few rows every evening!

Roz says:
Music, music, music! I shut myself in my room and turn my iPod up loud, and if anything has been bugging me or worrying me, it all fades away.

Fatima says:
I am not one for hobbies really but a gossip with my besties always puts the world to rights for me. Nothing can touch me when my mates are around!

Photos by the talented Nes Rine - thank you very much!

Cathy says:
Lovely!! I love tucking up with a blanket and a herbal tea and watching a film with my family. What are YOUR simple pleasures? Let us know in the COMMENTS SECTION below!

Sunday, 25 March 2018


Reader Blue shares a beautiful, powerful short story that is guaranteed to get you thinking...

Sun walked briskly down the rocky riverside, head high, although he didn't feel confident at all. His bag weighed heavily on his shoulder, dragging him down as his namesake sank lower in the sky. He cursed himself for not choosing a better time for, despite his nocturnal nature, he did not relish the idea of being found in the dark. But he'd gone too far now. He knew he could turn back and go home, smile falsely at his mother and lie through gritted teeth. He'd been out for a walk. He'd been seeing friends. He'd been anywhere but here, doing anything but what he was about to do. He didn't want to though. He'd had enough of running scared. He'd had enough, full stop. This was it.

He'd reached the end of the line, so to speak, a dead end, both of the path and in life. He stopped and dropped his bag, kicking it lightly so it fell open. On his knees, Sun rummaged through the pockets of the bag with only the dying daylight to aid his search. However, it didn't take long for his fingers to close around the craft knife he knew was there. He slid the cover off and unzipped the main pocket of the bag, gawping at the rainbow of clothes within. A green T-shirt, a pair of red skinnies, a blue scarf. All his clothes but none of them felt right. He reached in and pulled out a pink halterneck top. The perfect place to start, he thought, and before he had even registered what he was doing, he was in a frenzy, slicing up the fabric with his craft knife until it was little more than tiny ribbons, some being caught on the wind and drifting away to who knows where. But he wasn't done yet. He pulled each item of clothing out of the bag in turn, smoothing it out before viciously attacking it, his face scrunched in contempt as he fought back tears. Boys don't cry, Sun told himself.

Before long, he was through, panting more with overwhelming emotion than with exertion. The rainbow was scattered around him, torn to shreds. He skipped stones on the river whilst he waited for his heart to stop pounding, admiring the ripples before each stone sank, dragged under by the current. When the red blotches clouding his vision faded and he was able to breathe again, he turned back to the craft knife. It was now or never. He rested the blade against his wrist, seeing his veins pulse under the skin like they knew what he had planned for them. He looked away, focusing on the fabric confetti nearby. He willed himself to press down. But he couldn't. The tiny sense of self preservation was fighting back with everything it had. Frustrated, he flung his hands down, his head back and screamed at the twilit sky. The trees shook and the undergrowth rustled as the birds left their nests and various small mammals headed back to safety, away from the strange human boy, screaming his head off. But he knew they'd see him as a strange human girl. That was the problem. That was always the problem. That was the reason he was out here at dusk, slicing up his clothes and attempting to slice up himself. Because he knew he was Sun but everyone else thought he was Sarah.

He hated that name. It was ostensibly feminine and there was no way around it. His mum loved the name, loved the little girl she thought she had. But whenever she bought him a new dress for a birthday party or tied his hair into plaits with pink ribbon or introduced him as "my daughter", Sun wanted to scream, to stamp his feet, to tell her that he wasn't her daughter, he was her son, her son, her son! It had become something of a mantra, always playing on a loop in his head, and that was how Sun came to call himself that. Despite his miserable demeanour, he thought it suited him. Even the sun had to hide behind the clouds sometimes, just as he hid behind his layers of clothing, his long hair. It didn't feel like his. On impulse, he grabbed a chunk of hair hanging in front of his face and, in one swift move, hacked through it with the craft knife still clutched in his clammy hand. He felt instantly lighter. Clutching at more hair, he repeated the action, again and again, hair slipping through his fingers and fluttering to the ground or getting caught on the wind and floating away. Good riddance.

Then he was done. He smiled as he ran his hand over his shorn head. It was terrible, he knew that. He was no barber. His new hairdo was uneven with strange tufts of hair here and there. He'd get it sorted by professionals tomorrow. There would be a tomorrow now, although he'd been certain that there wouldn't be, not so long ago. He picked up his bag - lighter now, just like him - and turned towards home. The sky was completely dark now, the sun swallowed up by the horizon, but he wasn't scared of the dark anymore. He'd been living in the dark for most of his life anyway. But although the sun may have set, Sun knew that he was just beginning to rise.

Cathy says:
Wow! A topic I feel isn't talked about enough, and a compelling, emotional read. Thank you, Blue. What did YOU think? Tell us below in the COMMENTS SECTION!

Saturday, 24 March 2018


It's horoscope time, and Skye Tanberry has been hard at work... we're a little late this month, but take a look and see if her star-gazing rings true for YOU this month! 

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
It’s time to shake off the winter blues, rub the sleep from your eyes and stretch into spring! Look out for yourself this month…you have a lot on your mind still so make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Dream big this month, there is an answer waiting for you if you just look for it. Don't be afraid of shining bright…you will attract the right people to your flame. There is also a sprinkling of romance for you this month.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
It's time to get artistic with life’s simple pleasures! Try scrapbooking or origami…big rewards for little effort! In the spirit of simplicity, make sure to meditate on what makes you happy and make time for yourself.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
With every storm comes afresh start... let the cobwebs be blown away and start afresh. There is a big surprise waiting for you this month! Be it positive or negative, ride the storm…see where it takes you!!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Try to be less pessimistic this month…those who seem negative may be a blessing in disguise. Confused? Remember there is strength in helping others and taking people with you along the way can result in great happiness.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Be aware of who you are at this moment in time, don't try to be who you used to be or thought you might be. Listen to your needs. Sometimes caring and loving others too much means you neglect your own happiness. Take time out for number one!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Nestled in the corner of your mind are brilliant ideas waiting to be unleashed. Grab a pen or a pencil and test the waters… be it a song or a poem, there is something unfolding, just waiting to inspire those around you.

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
You sometimes find it tricky to take on board criticism but a bit of humility is always good for the soul. Your clever streak can sometime make you hard on the outside - time to let others see your gooey, loveable inside every now and then!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
In the spirit of fresh perspectives…why not get away for a while? Take a trip with a family member or best friend! There are things you’ve been neglecting over the winter which may need dusting off and focussing on with a fresh eye and a new input of energy.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
There is water in your soul which keeps you strong yet flexible. This is important to bear in mind when you are confronted with a tricky hurdle in a relationship! Someone close to you is having a hard time… try to see it from their point of view while still holding your own. Be strong!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
There’s a fire in your heart and this month is looking great for you!! With a whisper of sunshine around the bend, your spirits are high and there is no stopping you! Ride this wave of creativity and see where you end up, and remember to be brave - there is no failure in trying!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Thoughtful, cool and clever, you seem to have it sussed but don’t take this feeling for granted. Things may be tricky this month - some friends may be a bit too much, pushing the boundaries a little. Take a step back and assess before taking direct action.

Cathy says:
Ooooh, lots of starry stuff here! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU this month? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Friday, 23 March 2018


Reader Evie met Cathy Cassidy recently in Lancashire at one of the school events on her LOVE FROM LEXIE book tour and brought along lots of her books to be signed... she had a few questions for Cathy, too!

Would you ever want to be something else instead of an author?
At the moment, no... I love what I do. But one day, who knows? I've done lots of other things in the past, after all! Maybe I'd start a craft business or even an animal sanctuary!

Would you ever write about science or another subject instead of children’s books or write a journal?
Science isn't my passion, or indeed my skill, so I'm not sure I'd be the best person to write a science book. Some subjects do inspire me - history and art especially, and sometimes politics! However, if i were to write about those things I'd still rather do it in novel form! I do keep a journal, some of the time at least!

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere! Things I see, hear, remember, imagine... and then I daydream, and if I'm really lucky, a story takes shape!

Who was your favourite author growing up?
I had so many - as a result of reading all of my books from public libraries, I got to read very widely. I loved CS Lewis, LM Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Arthur Ransome, Richard Adams, Susan Coolidge, Frances Hodgson Burnett and so many more!

I am loving LOVE FROM LEXIE and my favourite character is Bex. What is your favourite book you’ve ever written?
Cheesy answer, but it's always the latest one - because only when a book is 'released into the wild' does it become totally real to me! Very soon, though, I think it will be SAMI'S SILVER LINING, the sequel to LEXIE, because it was such an emotional and powerful story to research and write! (Glad you’re loving LEXIE, too!)

Which is your favourite book fromThe Chocolate Box Girls/Boy series?
I'd pick CHERRY CRUSH as it's the first, but I love them all in different ways... it was so hard to step away from that series!

Pepsi or Coco-Cola?
Ha! I don't like either! I'm not keen on fizzy drinks at all, but Cola would be my least favourite. When I was small, Cream Soda was my fave pop flavour!

Cathy says:
Brilliant interview from Evie - it was too good not to share! If YOU have any questions... fire me an email, I am always happy to answer!

Monday, 19 March 2018


When I posted a pic of Scottish faves 'Empire Biscuits' on the FB fan page recently, Helen commented to tell me they were a lot like a cookie called 'Lancashire Nuts'. She's kindly agreed to share here recipe here... yum!

Helen says:
8oz. Self-raising flour
4oz. Caster sugar
4oz. Butter
2 tbls. Currants
1 egg (beaten)
1 lemon (rind AND juice)

Also... buttercream icing for the middle, and water icing for the top, plus sugar swirls, sweets or glace cherries to finish!

- Pre-heat the oven at approx. 180℃.
- Mix the flour and sugar in a large bowl and rub in the butter until like breadcrumbs, then add the grated rind of the lemon and mix into a stiff paste with the beaten egg and the lemon juice.
- Finally, add the currants and mix in well.
- Roll out thinly and cut into rounds with a scone cutter - the recipe makes approximately forty, and you'll need two rounds for each cake.
- Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 15 mins... or until golden brown!
- Instead of lemon juice I  like to put vanilla in, but they also taste good with coconut. You can be creative and ring the changes!
- So that's the basic biscuit recipe, then all you do is sandwich the cooled biscuit rounds together with a little butter cream, ice the top and decorate with whatever you like! 

Cathy says:
These are going straight onto my 'to make' list... better than a biscuit, not as wicked as a cake! (Well, maybe!) Do YOU love to bake? Share your fave recipe ideas in a COMMENT BELOW... I may invite my faves to tell us more on DREAMCATCHER!

Saturday, 17 March 2018


Readers tell us just what their furry little friends mean and how they affect us more than we may know! 

Hollie says:
My Boris is the light of my life. We got him because I was getting ill with what appeared to be anxiety and depression. He was only 8 weeks when we first saw him; the breeder lifted him up into my arms off the floor and at that moment he was mine. I’d actually wanted a brown pup but from the second that Boris lilted his head onto my chest and sighed the first time I saw him, I knew it was that puppy that had been sent to save me. I was really very unwell, I’d have meltdowns where I’d scream and cry, so loudly my family couldn’t bear to stay in the room. But 12 week old black bundle of scruff Boris would sit at my feet and wait for me to calm down, and he’d bring me back into the world by licking my face. He visited me in hospital (and was so excited to see me for the first time in two months he wet himself on their new floor!) and he was the only reason I wanted to come home at first. He has been my therapy, my angel; he gives me amazing confidence when I’m out with him and always a reason to look forward to going home. He was even invited to my sister’s graduation at reading and ended up as the 7th top news story of the day on the BBC! I have no clue what I’d do without that troublesome mess; he’s a very special sproodle!

Katie says:
Penny is our little Slytherin. She is a black and white cat with enough sass for the whole household. Penny is a keen huntress. She wiggles her bottom, twitches her nose and lifts her paw, getting ready to pounce. I think I’m Penny’s favourite, but I don’t take the role lightly. As soon as her beady yellow eyes catch mine I arrange myself into the perfect position for cuddles. Temperatures are soaring? I’ll still wear a blanket for Penny. She deserves it. We adopted her from the SPCA when she was a kitten! Neo is our miracle dog. He is a Swedish Vallhund. When we realised our road was truly treacherous for cats without Penny’s supreme intellect, my parents started looking for dogs - and stopped as soon as they found Neo. Neo changed our lives forever - he’s truly magnificent and very cuddly, especially when he wants attention. Neo only really barks at other dogs, to call over to them from the other side of the street and say “HEY! PARTY AT MY PLACE!”. He never usually gets any takers! One Swedish Vallhund is never enough, though, and we knew we had to get another puppy.  Dad wanted a red Swedish Vallhund (and we thought they couldn’t look more majestic!) and Mum wanted a girl (a sister for Neo!).I rattled off all the female Harry Potter names and Luna stuck! Her favourite thing to chew is books, and she even chewed through my copy of Love From Lexie!  I absolutely loved having a dog I could pick up and cuddle, she was only tiny when we got her, but Luna is already getting big. It’s nearly time for her to wear her full size Ravenclaw collar, to match the Hufflepuff one Neo will be getting as a birthday present on Monday! And with that, our family is complete!

Trish says:
My Pomeranian, Bella, is my best friend. And she has just had a litter of five adorable babies three weeks ago! Bella has made our little family feel complete and more settled. We have 2 boy Poms as well but it's Bella who means the world to me!

Cathy says:
Ahh just lovely! I love my furry friends, they mean the world to me! Want to give a shout-out to YOUR pets? COMMENT BELOW and click the button at top of page to follow DREAMCATCHER...

Friday, 16 March 2018


Regular blogger Laura has some tips on how to reclaim the art of the conversation!

Laura says:
We spend so much time online that we often neglect the skills of a face to face chat, especially with those we don’t know very well. Time to polish up those skills and make new friends at the same time!

Be approachable! Smile and look friendly and interested in others!
Ask questions - open-ended ones, not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions! This can start things off smoothly, as most people are at ease chatting about themselves.
Don’t mention the weather! Yawn!
Don’t talk about politics or big issues right away - you may have very different views, and the conversation may turn into an argument!

Look out for chances to add your thoughts to the conversation... this way, you create a real give-and-take conversation!
Be aware of the other person’s body language - if they look awkward or uncomfortable, steer onto safer topics.
Be yourself! Be open, honest and show your feelings... people like to see a glimpse of the real you!
Listen! This is the biggest quality of a good conversationalist. Pay attention to what others are saying!

... try to hog the conversation!
... overshare! Too much personal info can scare people away.
... try to interrogate people. Keep it natural!
...make things up to try to ‘keep up’ with the others in the conversation. You’ll be found out!

Remember that you can practice on anyone and everyone - the cashier on the tills at Morrisons, little brothers and sisters and their friends, neighbours, family friends... you name it! It’s not always easy, especially if you are shy, but practice makes perfect!

Cathy says:
Yup... I certainly find it hard to talk to strangers or those I don't know too well at times. Great tips, Laura! Do YOU have any tips to share? COMMENT BELOW...

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


Portuguese reader Mariana tells us about the book that first got her reading Cathy Cassidy in another of our series on CC readers around the world...

Mariana says:
I received DIZZY (in Portuguese, AN UNFOR-GETTABLE BIRTHDAY) on my tenth birthday, a gift from my best friend at the time. I have always been a bookworm, so getting a book was not a surprise. However, the book had every shade of bright pink and I was not a girly girl; pink was my least favourite colour. I politely thanked my friend and left the book in my room, unread. Of course, being a bookworm, I eventually ran out of books to read and DIZZY was my only option. I picked it up and started reading, and suddenly I just couldn't put it down. I was amazed by the storyline, and felt as if I was the one living it... being friends with Mouse and Finn and Dizzy eating Tess's food and playing with Leggit.

I loved the book. The way the festivals were described, the atmosphere, the lights, music and colours... it made me long to go to festivals like that one day. Just go, make new friends, stay up all night, leave all my worries behind. I loved the books so much I gave it to a friend who wasn't keen on reading. I thought she might like it, but I was wrong - she completely LOVED it! She texted me saying it was now her favourite book and if she could she'd read it forty times or more.

I've lost contact with the friend who gave me the book, but I'd like to thank her for introducing me to the world of Cathy Cassidy; and I'd like to thank Cathy for creating the story in the first place. Like DIZZY, I will never forget the story of that summer. It reminds me of some song lyrics... 'people change, but the memories don't.'

Cathy says:
I love this post... it means so much that readers all around the world are connecting to my books. Which book has made a huge impression on YOU? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday, 12 March 2018


Our regular look at children's classics returns, as keen reader Cheryl tells us about THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE...

Cheryl says:
This beautiful book first came to my attention thanks to a wonderful BBC adaptation when I was ten years old. It was aired just before Christmas in 1986, and forever inspired in me a festive feeling of big draughty mansions, huge snowy gardens, and mysterious ghost children.

There are a series of six Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston. THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE, published in 1954, is the first of these, and really sets the tone for the entire story to follow.

The book begins as lonely young boy Toseland leaves boarding school to go and stay with his great-grandmother for the Christmas holidays. Mrs Oldknow lives in a huge, magical old house called Green Knowe, and visiting her gives Tolly his first real sense of family and of being part of a long lineage of Oldknows.

Throughout his visit, the bad weather leaves them largely cut off, and gives Tolly time to explore the house and gardens, and to get to know the wonderful world of Green Knowe. Here he appears to encounter Toby, Alexander, and Linnet, who are ghosts of children who lived there in the 17th century, a belief that is encouraged by his great-grandmother, who claims she can see them too. Mrs Oldknow spends her evenings telling Tolly stories about the house and its rich history, and instills in him a real feeling of belonging and acceptance for the first time in his life.

The book is beautifully written, with colourful descriptions of nature and lovely imagery throughout, and an attention to detail that draws you right into the room with the characters.

The Green Knowe series may now be largely forgotten by younger readers, but deserves to be a Christmas staple for children everywhere. It is a world that is now passed down from generation to generation, just as these stories were once passed from Mrs Oldknow to Tolly.

CATHY SAYS: Agree, Cheryl - a fantastic read! Have YOU read THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE? What did YOU make of it? COMMENT BELOW...

Sunday, 11 March 2018


Readers give a shout out to their mums... today and every day!

Katie says:
I literally do not know where I would be without my Mum. True to her Gryffindor nature, she is a fierce protector, and always makes sure things get done. Mum is the best present giver, and is always very grateful for the interesting items I have put together for her! Mum encourages me and supports me for who I am. My Mum is the best person for the job, and throws herself into her many jobs. Mum is now a committed dog owner, and is very proud of her beautiful dog babies! But she makes sure Penny, our cat, is looked after too. Mum always ensures the family is together during special occasions. So Mum is a Mum, but she is also the best Mum. She is a strong protector who cares for others and makes sure we are always safe and having fun.

Jasmine says:
My mum's the best - she supports me in everything and never gives up on me through my struggles!

Hollie says:
My mumma is incredible. Through the most horrendous five years she has been my rock. I am not afraid to admit that I was horrible; I was violent and manipulative and so so difficult to deal with requiring so much basic care. Yet she managed to approach every problem I had with such kindness and care. She never faltered, even up to this day she continues to stand by me and fight for what I need, whether it be hospital discharge or my PIP or my doctors appointments. She is dealing with the most difficult of situations herself with her own dad, my grandad and yet she carries on caring for me and now cares for him. She’s amazing, beautiful and everything I hope to be one day. I love her!

Millie says:
My mum is my hero... she's had some very hard battles to fight the last couple of years but she never gives up and never let's the bad times get to her. She is kind, generous and always the person I go to if something goes wrong, and she gives the best cuddles. My mum is one in a million!

Lucie says:
My relationship with my mum has changed over the years! When I was little I worshipped her, wanted to be like her... I was her 'mini-me'! When I hit eleven or twelve, all that changed and for a while, it felt like everything she did annoyed me. I was pushing the boundaries a lot at that time, and we used to have some terrible rows. I said some things I am not proud of and I slammed so many doors my mum jokes that she's surprised they didn't come off their hinges! By the time I was fifteen or sixteen things started to calm down, and now that I'm at sixth form college we're back to being really close again. I wanted to give a shout out to my mum for putting up with me through that time and always caring enough to give me boundaries and rules - without them, who knows where I'd have ended up! I realise now we are quite alike, both strong and independent women who can be stubborn and dramatic, but I am so glad to have her as a mum and she's getting the biggest bunch of flowers on mothers day, as well as afternoon tea out with all the family! Love you, Mum!

Holly says:
I don't know what I'd do without my mum, she's my best friend and advice giver and she's always there for me!

Suhala says:
My mum always listens and gives the best advice, and she is a brilliant cook as well as running her own business. She is a great role model and I can honestly say I love her to bits!

Cathy says:
Aww, so lovely! I miss my own mum lots on Mother's Day (and every day) but I will get to hang out with my own lovely kids... yay! Want to give a Mother's Day shout-out to YOUR mum? Go for it - just COMMENT BELOW!