Wednesday, 8 April 2020


Animal-lover Maya is a real-life version of Coco from my Chocolate Box Girls series! She found a very different way to pass the time in lockdown... spending more time with her gorgeous animals!

Maya says:
I’m fifteen and I live on a farm in a village in Scotland. I am in lockdown with my mum, my sister and my dad... and also with my ponies, my dogs, my pet sheep, my hedgehog and my cat! And they are now getting all the cuddles they can possible get! Lockdown has been frustrating for lots of reasons but I’m trying to see the bright side of it and see what I can do with no school to get in the way!

One of our ponies, Stew, is a little rescue pony we bought a few months ago. He was horribly mistreated and for a long time couldn’t be separated from the rest of our ponies. He is still a little nervous but now we have built up a bond and he is the sweetest little baby I could have ever asked for... he loves cuddles and kisses and sunbathing in the summer!

I love being creative and I love being with my animals, so the perfect lockdown project for me was to  combine the two to make a model pony and have some fun! I have started doing photoshoots with all  of my animals, and the fall is my favourite time of the year so I thought with Stew's colouring he would be perfect for an autumn themed photoshoot.

I started off by making paper cutout leaves that I painted, but unfortunately these were too flimsy to stand the rain, so I ended up recycling some leaves that were bought from a crafts store. I cut two small lines and put yellow wool through the leaves and tied them to plaiting bands on the back of the leaves, weaving them into Stew's mane and tail. He also wears little ribbons on his plaits!

Stew was very sweet and patient whilst the leaves where going in, he stood perfectly still and even let me put leaves in front of his eyes into his forelock. He didn’t bat an eye he was such a little doll. He was also very patient when I took the plaits out and the leaves and his hair was beautiful and curly!

Having my animals is my life saver! There’s nothing like relieving the stress and worries by with cuddling my ponies or chilling with my sheep. The hedgehog always appreciates a good chunk of pepper and the dogs are loving all the long walks they are getting, plus the cat has regular naps on my lap. Anytime I feel stress, the kindness and beauty of animals always quells any worries I have. I just love being around them, any opportunity I can get to snuggle the animals I will gladly take it!

To all my fellow animal lovers out their, lockdown could be a opportunity to spend all your time with your pets and teach them al the tricks you thought you would never have time to do! I’ve just taught my sheep how to jump and do little courses! And for all the people who don’t have pets but really really want them? Do some research on the pets you want, and do some non stop parent pestering! They can’t leave the house... so they can’t ignore tour argument! Good luck!

Cathy says:
This is such a lovely, joyful post, Maya! It's definitely taken my mind off lockdown and I hope it will do the same for all DREAMCATCHER readers! I totally agree that animals can help hugely at a time like this... my dogs Finn and Ziggy, and Mary Shelley the tortoise, of course, are helping to keep me sane! Do YOU have pets? COMMENT BELOW to give them a lockdown shout-out!

Sunday, 5 April 2020


My awesome writer-pal Kathryn Evans is launching an amazing project to help young people document their feelings during the lockdown... will YOU get involved?

Kathryn says:
This pandemic is a bit rubbish isn’t it?  I’ve been really gloomy but I have managed to find something else to think about than people breaking social distancing the rules when I have to go shopping! Just before we were all told we had to stay at home, I finished reading The Diary of Anne Frank. If you haven’t read it, it’s the real life diary of a young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazi’s for the last two years of the second world war.   She kept a diary about life with her family concealed in a tiny annex, recording all the details of food and school work and arguments and friendships, the way she felt, the things she hoped for. That diary became a hugely important historical record and a testament to her life.

Right now, we are living through an unprecedented period of history. Just like Anne Frank, I think that you, the children of this pandemic, should have a voice that is held forever. It’s important that the world knows what life is like for you and that you have space to express yourself in your own way. I set up Our Corona Diary as a place to share and encourage you to make diaries – in whatever way you want! And when all this is over, we will archive those diaries and hopefully, produce a book in which every child involved is named.

So many people have helped me get it up and running and I was reminded how important our friends are, even when we can’t be together. In less than 24 hours my friends Candy Gourlay, Jo Wyton, Addy Farmer and Matt Killeen  came together to make the Our Corona Diary Team. Writers and illustrators like Cathy Cassidy, Sarah McIntyre, Philip Ardagh, Robin Stevens and Frank Cotterill Boyce have all shared resources to inspire you – with lots more to come!

Now all we need is for you to write your diaries. You can join us on Instagram for prompts and info @OurCoronaDiaryGram . If you  want to share your work with us as you go, get your school, parent or guardian to send it to us and we’ll try and  post it on Instagram. They need to  sign up at  to stay informed about  submitting your diaries for inclusion in the archive at the end of the project.

Kathryn Evans' new book BEAUTY SLEEP is out now...

Cathy says:
Wow... this is such an AWESOME project! I hope lots of you will want to get involved - I think it's really important for you to have your voices heard. Check out the website and Instagram and get writing! Are YOU keeping a record of this unique time in history? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 3 April 2020


Sixth form student Marti shares her diary from before and after lockdown, documenting some of the fears, confusion and hope that all of us are feeling right now...

Marti says:
Monday March 23rd.
It's a sunny Monday afternoon, the flower buds are beginning to blossom, the sky is an endless blue. There is a light breeze that makes the air feel fresh and crisp.  But we are all inside. It's a very strange set of circumstances that have meant I am sat with my laptop writing a blog post. I should be in sixth form studying for my A Levels, or more realistically, sat in sixth form eating strawberry laces and complaining about going to work this evening. It's in this season of uncertainty that we begin to realise how much we have taken for granted.

Coronavirus has meant that we are all attached to the news apps on our phones, glued to our TVs at 5pm, and waiting for the next piece of breaking news to hit. The most recent notification I got on my phone was from the BBC news app nine minutes ago: "Hold this device at an arm's length. Double that distance, and that's how far you should stay away from people...". The world has changed in ways we cannot imagine. Schools, restaurants, bars, gyms, and cinemas are closed. We cannot visit elderly grandparents or relatives for fear of transmission; vulnerable people have been told to stay indoors for months.  Supermarkets are having to put restrictions on the amount of toilet paper, medicine, and household cleaning products we can buy, and pasta, milk, and flour have become luxuries. The safest way to talk to our friends is over the phone, and yet we have been told our phones could be harbouring the most dangerous bacteria.

But we are not entirely without hope. The pace of life is slowing down for many people, and communities are being drawn together. Libraries are extending the number of books that can be taken out, schools are opening their doors to care for frontline workers' and vulnerable children, and neighbours are doing the weekly shop for those who must stay indoors. Despite the uncertainty, we can be certain that this is a time for hope.

Tuesday March 24th.
Last night it was revealed that from today, the UK is in lockdown. Obviously, this is a scary time. Plans must be cancelled, businesses forced to close, and we are only allowed to leave our homes once a day for exercise. The scariest part of it all is the fact that thousands of people still must work on the frontline, keeping the NHS in operation. These people expose themselves to the risk of transmission every single day in order to keep others alive. Similarly, essential shop workers, such as supermarket employees and pharmacists must remain at work in order to supply individuals and families with the things they desperately need. I work part time at a supermarket, and last night the shelves were being cleared almost as fast as we could fill them. Shelves of pasta, milk, and cleaning products lay bare, leaving many without the items they so desperately need.

It is an extremely scary time for everyone, but we can get through to the other side of it. Keep calling the people who you care about, keep helping others with their shopping, and keep being kind.

Cathy says:
These words are shared from Marti's own blog, which is a brilliant read and a fantastic and reassuring resource for anyone struggling with lockdown. How did YOU take the lockdown news? COMMENT BELOW to have your say. Do check out Marti's blog and give it a follow so as not to miss a single post:

Wednesday, 1 April 2020


The world has turned upside-down in recent months - but we can get through the difficult times if we help each other...

Cathy says:
The DREAMCATCHER reader blog has been drifting along for a while now, and I'd been wondering whether to close it down. Now, suddenly, life has changed in ways we could never have imagined. A new virus is sweeping across the world, and in an effort to keep their people safe governments far and wide are declaring that we must lockdown, stay at home, stop socialising and only go out once a day for exercise.

The schools have shut except for the children of key workers and the vulnerable, and you'd think that would be a cause for celebration... but not seeing your friends for weeks and weeks on end? That's hard. Lockdown brings many challenges. How to get through the day without strangling your pesky little brother; how to cope when your dance/ swim/ gymnastics class has been cancelled for the forseeable future; how to stop yourself going stir-crazy in general, in fact.

That's where the DREAMCATCHER reader blog can help... and where YOU can help, too. Email me on the link below to share your ideas on how to make the best of lockdown; tell me what it's like for you right now; tell me what helps, what doesn't, what worries you, what you plan to do once the lockdown is over... and more. I'll share as much as I can here on DREAMCATCHER... and there will lots of cool ideas, competitions and challenges to keep you busy, too, so if you haven't given this blog a 'follow' please do that now so you don't miss a post.

And here is the first cheer-up thing... a daily ten minute chance to escape the reality of lockdown and hang out in the world of my book LOVE FROM LEXIE. I'm reading a new chapter every day, so if you haven't watched yet head over to my CathyCassidyTV YouTube channel and binge watch those you've missed! If someone in your family has Facebook, you can see the daily links on too, or follow this link over to my personal YouTube which is the first place I'm uploading each chapter! See you soon... and get those ideas coming!

Watch chapter one of LOVE FROM LEXIE and binge watch more chapters here:

Email me your ideas for DREAMCATCHER in lockdown here:

Follow my Facebook reader page here:

We can get through this together... keep smiling!
Cathy xx

Sunday, 22 March 2020


Looking for a book to curl up with while the world around us goes mad? Reader Sasha reviews Cathy Cassidy's LOOKING GLASS GIRL... read on to see if it's the book for you!

Sasha says:
I've been a CC fan for quite a while now - it started with the beautifully illustrated covers of the earlier CC books and the stunning stories within. I even got the chance to meet Cathy back in 2010 in Dudley, and when I spotted her 'modern take on Alice in Wonderland', LOOKING GLASS GIRL, I knew I had to review it. In fact, I leapt at the chance! With my love of a good story, I have a very large to-read pile, but the moment I picked this book up from the library the beautiful cover just called out to me like the Cheshire Cat, asking 'Why haven't you stepped into my world?' I opened up the first few pages and before I knew it, I was completely and utterly... lost!

Many have attempted to re-tell Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with its twisting logic and mythical creativity, and although LOOKING GLASS GIRL is not a re-telling as such, it has both of these two magical ingredients. When you are taking a classic and re-arranging it yourself, you have to flood each section with originality, a style of your own. That is definitely what happens here with LOOKING GLASS GIRL. It is now the 21st century and of course things are different, but small twists and turns and surprises create a book that will make you gasp.

I found it easy to soak into the story and connect with Alice in more ways than I ever expected. Alice's two friends from primary school have abandoned her, occasionally turning round to fake a sickly kindness. Many of us will have gone through something similar at some point, and now we see it from the perspective of a character we can trust. We even glimpse the viewpoints of less obviously likeable characters like Yaz, Lainey and Savvy - they have personas we can relate to, which makes the story stronger still.

LOOKING GLASS GIRL switches from one narrator to another with ease, and the Alice theme never feels forced. The book has a strong Wonderland theme, but switches back and forth with the present day too, which makes it unique. LOOKING GLASS GIRL is sure to put a smile on your face, tears in your eyes and a strong beat in your heart. Do not miss out. It's wacky, original and full of heart. I recommend very strongly!

Cathy says:
Wow... what a review! (Blush, blush!) Thank you, Sasha! Have YOU read LOOKING GLASS GIRL yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say! 

Sunday, 8 March 2020


We asked over on the FB fanpage what advice you'd have given to your teenage self... these are some of your replies!

Amanda says:
Buy shares in Apple. Everything else will feel a lot simpler after that!

Trish says:
Don't settle. You're worth more.

Lucy says: 
Don’t believe that men can touch you with impunity. Call them out loudly every time because your body is YOURS and nobody else’s.

Cara says:
Stop comparing yourself to others and judging yourself so harshly... the world will be a lot kinder to you than you are to yourself, if only you give it a chance.

Nicky says: 
Believe in yourself. You can do and be anything you want to be. Follow your dreams.

Vanessa says:
Trust your gut, you are good enough and don’t worry you will get to follow your dreams.

Kelly says:
Don't feel you have to agree with your friends on everything just to fit in. It's OK to be yourself, even if that sometimes means having a different opinion. Be brave. Speak your truth.

Sean says:
I think I would advise my self to read more. I only a few books as a child, Enders Game being my favourite. I've now started to read again about a year or so ago and I'm really enjoying it.

Jane says:
Take notice of your quiet moments. They speak volumes...

Jenna says:
Everything will be ok... and even the bits that aren't Ok aren't going to be as bad as you imagine. You're a whole lot stronger than you think, promise!

Krysten says:
Don't change who you are to fit in with a group. Find the group that appreciates who you are already!

Esther says: 
Everything happens for a reason - have faith.

Sarah says: 
Stop giving up so easily... listen to advice, not judgement.

Magi says:
Stay away from boys!!

Ruth says: 
Write books about boy wizards!

Cathy says:
I LOVE these... what advice would YOU give to your younger self? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020


Reader Katy writes about the damage palm oil is doing to our planet... and why we should all care about it!

Katy says:
What is palm oil? It's an edible vegetable oil made from the fruit of an oil palm tree, and the truth is you probably consume it in several ways on a daily basis. It’s in everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and even lipstick! WWF (The World Wide Fund for Nature) claims that almost half of all supermarket products contain it. It is used as animal feed and bio-fuel in many parts of the world too. So what's the problem? Palm oil is one of the main reasons for the deforestation of our planet's vast, beautiful rainforests. It destroys the habitats of  endangered species such as the orang-utan and pygmy-elephant. The farming of palm oil produces many greenhouse gases and is a big contributor to climate change.

Efforts are being made to limit the damage palm oil farming creates, with demands that companies must not clear any primary forest, must check how much carbon they are emitting, treat workers fairly, and actively create wildlife zones... but only a few producers follow the guidelines. It has been claimed that palm oil supplies 35% of the world’s vegetable oil demand on just 10% of the land, so if produced sustainably, it is actually very efficient. Perhaps true, but does this justify our use of palm oil? It's time to start asking what is more important to us - our environment and the habitats of endangered animals or products like supernoodles and peanut butter? 

What CAN we do to help? Supermarket brand Iceland have issued a complete ban on palm oil use in their own-brand products until more evidence is shown that 'sustainable' means no deforestation, and some brands of peanut butter and chocolate have stopped including it in their products. Be aware and raise awareness… tell your friends, tell your family, read labels, and cut back on junk food as this is often where palm oil lurks - bake your own treats, it's much more fun! If you're buying something with palm oil in it make sure it has the 'sustainably produced' label. 

If you discover palm oil in a favourite product, write to the manufacturer to ask if they can drop the palm oil or at least switch to sustainably produced. If we refuse to buy it, companies will stop using it... and the rainforests and the orang-utans may yet survive.

Cathy says:
We try not to buy products containing palm oil... it really is a huge cause of rainforest destruction and destroys the habitat of orang-utans, so well done to Katy for flagging this up. What do YOU care about? Want to write a blog post about it? COMMENT BELOW with your suggestions!

Monday, 24 February 2020


Reader KRISTINA sheds her wisdom on the difficulties and transitory state of friendships. 

We've all been there... that feeling of being left out when you're not included in a playground game as a little kid, the worry that your BFF may be drifting away, the treading-on-eggshells feeling of navigating high school friendships when you're part of a group but somehow always on the edge. Friendship can be the most important thing in our growing up years. A good friendship is a kind of treasure, and a bad one is nothing short of torment.

We idealise friendships, but the truth is that it's always a give-and-take thing and sometimes a best friend might not be forever. Letting go of a best friend can be painful, but it's rare that the person who was a perfetct match for us at age five will still be a soul mate ten years on. Instead of looking for that mythical perfect person, collect good friends wherever you find them... friends are like books, you can never have too many! It doesn't matter if your friends don't all get on; if some share your love of a particuler hobby and others are mad about nail varnish and boys; if some are at school, some nearer to where you live; if some are extravert and full of fun, others quiet and gentle; if they're boys or girls, older or younger, if you share a culture or a religion or not... you get the picture!

Sadly, friends are not always what they seem. Nobody's perfect, and some people will treat you badly, whether they plan to or not. Be aware. If a friend seems to be using you for what she can get, tread carefully. If she lies or cheats or controls or repeatedly excludes you, be careful. If she puts you down and undermines your confidence, step back... you're looking for a friend, not a 'frenemy'.

If a friendship drifts or dies, let go gracefully, even if you feel hurt. Be glad for the fun times you shared, and remember that not all friendships are meant to last forever. There will be more friendships ahead, wonderful ones. It's sometimes easy to take a friend for granted... take a moment to show your friends how much they mean to you, with a text or an email, a snapchat photo, a phone call, a letter, a hug. One thing I've learnt about friendship is that it grows when you look after it.

Cathy says:
Wise words from Kristina! What are YOUR tips for keeping a friendship strong? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 17 February 2020


Read this heartbreaking short story from reader Chloe...

The darkness of the medical room feels right somehow. The rattling of the radiator is the only sound I can hear except for the distant sound of footsteps which I pray  aren't coming my way. I don't need people asking what is wrong - I am already so close to tears. The room is new, different; I feel I can hide there, no questions, no tears, just hiding. You know that moment of pain when you just want to curl up into a ball and hold yourself close? The fear of breaking apart so strong in your mind. It's also for comfort, isn't it? A part of you demands to be alone as people only make you cry... but another part wants a hug, wants someone to tell you it will be OK, just once, even if you do know they're lying. I don't know what I want... silence, comfort? Well, I suppose I do know. I want him to live.

The feeling of helplessness kills you, doesn't it? When you can't do anything but pray and wish and hope and wait. 'It's not fair...' These are the only words I can find to say. The radiator has grown louder now, comforting somehow. Or maybe it is the voice in my head as it narrates the story bringing some kind of comfort. I mean, that's the one person you can't push away, isn't it? Yourself. Even if the whole world turns its back on you, you still have yourself.

A loud, shrill ringing noise sends shivers down my spine. Running footsteps and loud voices of high school kids fills the corridor. I think of my friends... are they wondering where I am, why I'm not in class? They'll think I am away home by now, they don't know I'm here, don't know I'm hiding. The radiator sound has gone. Distant voices and keys rattling are all I can hear, and then I see the janitor, always happy, always smiling, pause in the doorway. 'What's wrong?'

'Bad news,' I say softly, blushing slightly, biting my lip, tears welling all over again. He nods his head and walks away and I sigh with relief. I am not ready to talk about it, not yet. Teachers are walking past the open door now, I flash them all the same weak smile and most smile and walk on, some raising an eyebrow. They know it isn't their place to interfere, that things can't be made better by an awkward conversation through a half-open door.

Someone comes to tell me my Granny is here, and I stand up, leaving the darkness of the little room that has given me a hiding place this last twenty minutes. I know that if he dies I will be seeing that room again, or maybe Mum will let me take that day off school. Grieving takes its toll on people, and nobody knows how long it will last. In a situation like this, I get two days at most and then I will have to pull myself up, put a brave face on and move on, no matter how hard it may be.

He isn't going to die. He can't, I think softly to myself. He has to live, and we have to keep our promises, no matter what...

image: with thanks to Pexels

Cathy says:
I love the heartfelt and powerful prose of this story... and I love that although we don't know quite how it will end, we can all identify with that feeling of helplessness and fear. Have YOU ever had to handle bad news in a school setting? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Wednesday, 12 February 2020


I get some very cool letters and emails from readers all around the world... here are extracts from just a few!

ANGEL CAKE. I read it about ten times and it is amazing. You are my favourite author and I hope one day to meet you! I do not get all your books but I have read sundae girl, Angel Cake,indigo blue,dizzy,lucky star and Scarlett. I want to read ginger snap but I can't find it any libraries were I live. You are my role model. I hope one day I would write books like this too.
Hello, I just love your books... my favourite one is

I just wanted you to know how much you have inspired me... I love all of your novels! I am a huge fan and will definitely be reading the new book!

Am I writing to the author of the CHOCOLATE BOX series? I am a big fan, and have so many questions I would like to ask!

Hello, I am a fan of your books from Hungary! I really love the books and I'm writing to see if there is any way I can get a dedicated bookmark?

Cathy Cassidy, I want to say thanks for my childhood. I spent it in reading your books. I am sorry if my English is not perfect. Thank you!

I live in South Africa and at the beginning of the year I was lost and had nothing to read until one of my friends introduced me to your books and I was hooked. I absolutely love your books and so do all of my friends. Now every time we are allowed to go to our school library I get one of your books. You are my favourite author.

Cathy says:
Aww... how cool are my lovely readers? Are YOU reading from outside the UK? COMMENT BELOW to tell me which country you're in, or email me via the website to be featured on a future blogpost!

Monday, 10 February 2020


We all know winter can be tough so we've come up with some hot tips to melt away those winter blues! 

1) Take a stroll outside and soak up that crisp winter sun!
Not only does exercise trigger a release of serotonin (the happiness hormone!) in your brain, but getting out and about, even on the greyest of days can expose you to much needed vitamin D.

2) Journal ten things you're grateful for... instant mood booster!
Winter is often a time where we feel low and hide ourselves away from others. This behaviour can often lead to low and often sad moods. A cool way to tackle this is to log a journal about things you are grateful for. It will get you thinking positive thoughts about your friends, family and environment. Even in the darkest times we should find the light in others.

3) Watch a sunset!
It doesn't come too often but when it does there's nothing quite like a winter sunset! Wait for that perfectly clear, crisp winter day, wrap up warm, fix a flask of hot chocolate and stroll up to the nearest hill or city park and just watch the sun set! Finding small beauties in the coldness of winter; it's priceless!

4) Plan a hot choc date with a friend!
Winter is not the time to be alone. Human interaction is a must during these cold, hard winter months... so why not invite your bestie over for a hot chocolate and movie night?

5) Confront something you've been avoiding... giving it all your focus and attention is halfway to sorting the problem out.
Winter is the perfect time to confront that project you've been avoiding! Maybe set up your own space, snuggle into your fave slouchy jumper, put some motivational music on and get cracking!

6) Meditate!
Maybe it's the stress of Christmas or maybe it's all that shivering but winter makes for lots of tension, mental and physical. Meditation is a great way to breathe and release the mind and release the tension stored in your body, relaxing you and ultimately cheering you up! Check out the free 'Calm' app for an easy intro!

7) De-clutter or re-arrange your bedroom... we're thinking cosy winter wonderland!
What is better for the mind than a good clear-out. It's almost as if you are dusting away your own troubles! Even just moving your bed from one side of the room to the other or placing a cosy lamp in the corner, it can do wonders to your mental health. 

8) Tell someone you love them - friend, family or boyf/girlfriend! Awww!
You may be feeling a bit low this winter but you're almost certainly not the only one. Telling someone you love them or appreciate them is a guaranteed mood-booster for your loved ones and not only that, here's betting you will feel all warm and fuzzy inside too!

9) Read a book!
This hibernation period is the perfect opportunity to tuck yourself away, curl up next to a fire and make a start on that pile of 'must-reads' you've been collecting! Not only will this improve your mood, it will get those creative juices flowing... and well we all know reading is good in every other area of your life too!

10) Try a winter sport!
Ice-skating or dry slope skiing are great ways to beat the winter blues. Staying active is key to a happy mind and body... we can become slouchy in the winter which can lead to bad mental health.
Images with thanks to Pexels

Yep, I'm definitely trying these out for size!! Have YOU got any good tips or tricks you'd like to share? COMMENT BELOW!!


Animal-lover Maya is a real-life version of Coco from my Chocolate Box Girls series! She found a very different way to pass the time in loc...