Tuesday 30 June 2015


We asked readers to share their experiences of starting their first period…

Molly says:
I started quite young and I wasn't prepared. I had stayed over at my aunt's house and I was really worried when I realised what had happened, but my cousin was a year older than me and she explained what to do. It's not ideal to be caught unawares so my advice would be to read up on it, or talk to your mum or sister, so you know what to expect.

Hazel says:
I was quite an early starter at eleven, but my Mom was very good and had prepared me well, making sure I had pads and telling me everything I needed to know well over a year before I actually started. I also read Usbourne's Facts of Life: Growing Up book by Susan Meredith, which was very informative. I now keep a calendar to track my periods and that helps to know when to expect it.

Amy says:
I'm twelve and I had my first period just eight days ago. I was at school and I had a pad with me, but I didn't know how to do it so made a mess of it. I told a friend who took me to the medical room, and they gave me some pads and booklets. I didn't have any spare pant though and was feeling awkward, so Mum picked me up early and that evening we went through all of it, and I felt loads better. I think I will be able to take it in my stride next time around.

Rebecca says:
I started quite late, at fifteen, and I really wanted it to happen. It sounds crazy, but all my friends had started and I was feeling anxious and abnormal. Of course, I was absolutely normal really - you can start at any age from eight to eighteen, we are all different. My advice is to start with pads, as they are easier… and don't worry if your periods are irregular to start with, that's quite normal too!

Chloe says:
That first period can be a bit of a shock, it can make you feel panicked, but as time goes on you just accept it. It's just Mother Nature!

Iona says:
My first period started at a music festival when I was thirteen - we were away for the weekend and sleeping in a tent! Not what I would have planned. I told my mum and she managed to get some pads from one of the festival shops, but it did spoil things a bit… festival toilets are horrible at the best of times, so just imagine having to use them at a time like that. And I was worried people would know… my festival friends… but I don't think anyone did. Not a great start, but after that things have been much easier!

Ella says:
I was ten, and I started on holiday. I was so upset, I wasn't ready in any way and felt too young for that sort of thing. I also felt like the holiday was ruined as after that I couldn't swim because the pad would have come to bits. I am fourteen now and I am used to it all, but being an early starter was hard; I didn't want my friends to know as I felt embarrassed but they found out and I felt like a freak. I think my anger about it lasted a year or two, though… it just seemed so unfair. Now I wonder what the fuss was about, but I think I just felt too young at ten and I was in denial.

Rachael says:
Don't panic if your friends have started and you haven't. It will come when it's ready - just be patient! I was a late starter and all my friends had started and I hadn't. I worried constantly that there was something wrong with me. There wasn't, and I started when my body was ready! A word of advice - don't believe everything people say. Some girls exaggerate, making out that periods are excruciating, but everyone is different… some have cramps and some have no pain at all.

Cathy says:
Lots of good advice! Thanks to all who have shared their experiences. COMMENT BELOW to have your say, too...

Sunday 28 June 2015


Readers who've been bullied online share their stories…
Olivia says:
In the spring of 2013 I was bullied anonymously online on a website called ask.fm. I was told a lot of awful things… that I was fat, disgusting, a whale, ugly, worthless, a freak. The bullies told me I deserved to get cancer and that I should kill myself. I was even told that the Boston Marathon bombing was my fault, which obviously didn't even make sense. I was made to feel like my life was completely worthless by these bullies, and to this day I don't know who it was. It was clear they would say anything to upset me, and eventually I learned to stop reacting. I deactivated my ask.fm account and asked for help to overcome the troubles I was facing as a result of the all the bullying. I am suffering from an illness called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of this, but I am doing OK and I have discovered that telling someone is ALWAYS the right thing to do, and that nobody can make me feel inferior without my consent.

Natalie says:
I have been cyber-bullied and it was awful. I was tormented and the person told me false stuff about myself which I believed at the time. In the end, I was starving myself and locking myself in my room, refusing to come out. The bullying stopped when I realised I had to stand up for myself. I threatened the bully that I would report them and he/she got scared and deleted their account. I still don't know who was behind it, and I don't suppose I ever will.

Anna says:
I was cyber-bullied by so-called friends. It went on for months and I had no idea they were behind it - the same girls who were giving me support and sympathy at school had made a fake account just to make my life a misery. To this day I have no idea what I did to deserve it. I found out when they turned on me and told me I couldn't take a joke and that I WAS a joke, and pathetic, and a lot of even worse things than that. I was so shocked I couldn't go into school after that, and luckily I was able to transfer but I have never been able to tell my parents exactly what had happened. I don't think I will ever trust anybody again, not properly.

Jess says:
I'm not sure, but I think you might class this as cyber-bullying? A while ago I became friends with a guy on a music page I posted on a lot. He seemed really nice to begin with, but gradually I began to see that he wasn't appropriate. Eventually he began to ask me for revealing photographs and at that point I blocked him and ignored the messages. I didn't tell anyone to start with as I felt embarrassed, but we had a school assembly about something similar and so I felt able to tell my friends. I was glad I did, because it lifted a weight off my shoulders.

Many thanks to reader Kira for modelling for our photo.

Cathy says:
Thanks to Olivia, Natalie, Anna and Jess for sharing their stories. Do YOU feel safe online, or have you been targeted by cyber bullies too? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Saturday 27 June 2015


Reader Manda can't decide which of the Chocolate Box Girls sisters she is the most like - she can identify with them all!

Manda says:
I love the Chocolate Box Girls series but I don't really have a favourite sister - I feel I can relate to them all in some way, connect to their characters and how they feel. I think I am some kind of weird hybrid!

I'll start with Coco… she reminds me of a much younger me! I'm usually very girly, but I do have a tomboyish side and enjoy taking risks. I love horses and I'm passionate about all animals and the environment, and though I'm no longer as adventurous as I was at Coco's age, that part of me is still in there somewhere! She's definitely more outgoing and outspoken than me and I admire that about her. I find her passion and optimism very inspirational, and partly because of her I have been trying to regain some of that old drive and optimism because there are quite enough cynics in the world, thank you very much! In some ways Coco reminds me of Roald Dahl's Matilda in that she sees injustice and wrong in the world and tries to put it right, simple as that. I also fully agree that animals are way better company than people! Although I don't quite share Coco's indifference to boys and like boys as friends, at seventeen I still haven't got to the point where I see boys in a romantic way!

So… Cherry. Cherry may be the sister I relate to  most, although I don't have a problem with telling fact from fiction the way she does! I'm very creative and just about anything that lets that creativity out makes me happy. Like Cherry, I know how it feels to be on the outside. I have moved around a lot in my life so I know what that's like, and I'm not the most outgoing person so I don't make friends easily and it takes me a while to trust. I have some amazing friends who love me as I am, so I'm not complaining, but I've been there! Cherry had to fit into a ready-made family, and I know how it feels to be 'late to the party' as in entering new groups where everyone seems to have known each other for years. Not easy! Cherry's looks set her apart and for me it's my accent - although nobody has ever bullied me for it, I do feel different from everyone else the minute I open my mouth. The feelings are basically the same - at one point I even cried reading CHERRY CRUSH because I connected so strongly. On a last note, I have owned fish too, like Cherry, and can confirm they are way more intelligent and sentient than people give them credit for!

Skye… like Skye, I love dressing up (I don't always do it, but I'd love to!) and while I don't always like EVERYTHING vintage like Skye does, I am always up for giving something unique or different a chance! I love learning about the past… not necessarily history the way it is taught in schools but the people, their lives, feelings, what they wore and how they lived in their time. I like stories set in the past as they can seem like a whole other world. Like Skye, I am not at my happiest in large crowds of people and sometimes like my own space. I certainly wouldn't throw a party and invite lots of virtual strangers, so I can strongly relate to Skye not wanting a huge party for her 13th birthday. Like her, I am very creative and enjoy a good daydream now and again!

Honey… if I'm completely honest, I can't relate to Honey much when it comes to personal experience, but I am drawn to her in the way I'm often drawn to the most lonely/ broken/ misunderstood characters. I'm not like her personality wise - I don't have the heart to be mad at the people I love for too long without reason, or try to make their lives difficult for the sake of it. I do feel sorry for Honey though, and always feel like I want to give her a big hug and stick her back together. She's so in denial, believing her dad still cares when everyone (readers and characters!) can see how futile that belief is. Even though I relate much more to Cherry than Honey, I still cried and felt fiercely protective of Honey when she began to lose Shay because of how sad it was. She didn't really trust anyone but Shay and losing him broke her completely, which pretty much broke my heart too. It was one of the many times I wanted to break the fourth wall and run to the character's side and be their friend forever and protect them from all evil… I can always dream, at least!

Summer… I can easily relate to Summer because of her love for dancing and her determination to work towards reaching her goals. I don't plan on becoming a prima ballerina and love most dance styles equally, but I have loved dancing ever since seeing my first ballet twelve years ago. I've been taking regular classes for five years now. I love constantly challenging myself to see what my body can do, as well as the creative aspect of interpreting the music through movement and expression (a kind of silent acting). I also love performing in front of an audience and the pretty costumes are always a plus! I am not as good at practicing outside of lessons as Summer is, so in a way she inspires me and motivates me to work harder! Like Summer, I am quite girly most of the time and wear a lot of pink, so you could say my usual style is a more casual (possibly somewhat less tasteful!) version of Summer's!

Cathy says:
I LOVE this… like Manda, I can identify with all of the Chocolate Box Girls sisters in one way or another. I love how Manda has channeled that influence and styled herself as each sister for the feature! So cool! Which of the sisters are YOU most like? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday 26 June 2015


Readers talk about why they love gymnastics… could it be the right activity for YOU too?

Pihla says:
I love gymnastics because I learn new things all the time… I am eleven years old and I train for twelve hours a week. I started going to lessons at the age of six because my best friend was going… it just grew from there. Now we are training four times a week for three hours at a time! There are twelve girls in the group I am part of… it is called Silvergroup. We all compete in competitions and that is often very exciting… and rewarding, too, when your best routine goes really well. I do dream of a career as a gymnast, but then I dream of a career as a writer too! The thing I love best about gymnastics is the joy of it, and the thrill when you are successful. The worst part is when you have to master tricks and moves that scare you… for example, the flyaway was THE thing that frightened me a couple of months ago, but I am OK with it now!

Alexandra says:
I do gymnastics for three hours a week; it is my favourite sport by far! I decided I wanted to do gymnastics when I was eight and very quickly moved up to a higher group. I have won some awards within my club and some in British gymnastics competitions. I focus on floor and vault, but some of my friends do bar and beam. The downsides are the injuries… I often have some kind of injury from gymnastics… my ankle is hurt at the moment. I am waiting for an x-ray to see whether it's a sprain or a hairline fracture. Gymnastics can be tiring, too! None of this makes any difference to me - I won't stop because I just love it. Gymnastics is basically my second home.

Cathy says:
Have you ever tried gymnastics? Have Pihla or Alexandra made you want to give it a try? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday 25 June 2015


I think you will love this special mini story on a friendship theme from reader Cassi… snuggle up with an ice cool smoothie and enjoy!

We met by chance. I'd eaten a dodgy doughnut from the school cafeteria and was busy throwing up in the loo, and she was standing outside, waiting for her assigned buddy to finish off putting on her mascara. I almost walked straight past her, but she put out a hand to stop me.

'Wait,' she said softly. 'You look like death!'

She took me to the school office, forgetting all about her buddy (who, by the way, had taken her chance to put on lip-gloss and eyeshadow too). I was sent straight home, but not before we had exchanged numbers and email addresses. Kadi, she said her name was. A lovely, unique - OK, not quite unique but still - a lovely name. I had a simple, boring name… Cassandra. Where's the fun in that? The music, the laughter? The way she said her name… Kadi… made the world sing. Everyone called me plain old Cass, but with Kadi I felt different. I called myself Cassi, with an i at the end, just like Kadi did, and suddenly I felt special, different, too.

She texted me that evening, and I texted back, and from that moment we did everything together. Confessed to not having done homework to teacher together… threw up in loos together after eating the cafeteria doughnuts (some people never learn)… sat exams together… everything.

We're still best friends now. You know what I learnt that day? Sometimes you find friends where you least expect them… like outside the girls' toilets!

Cathy says:
I love this mini-story - it perfectly sums up the craziness, fun and loyalty of teen friendship. Do YOU have the best friend ever? COMMENT BELOW to give her/him a shout-out, or give Cassi some feedback on her fab story!

Tuesday 23 June 2015


Reader Lauren loves YA fiction so much she's begun to blog about it… 

Lauren says:
I recently started a book blog, and I'm loving it. It's quite easy to set up a blog - you can do it for free and it takes no time at all. I've used a site called Blogger for mine - you have to create a Google+ account and then you can get started on making your blog. There are loads of templates to choose from and you can change where things go and play around with the way it looks. It's your blog, so it's all up to you!

The reason I started blogging is because I am a huge fan of YA (young adult) fiction and I love reading in general. Many of my friends have blogs where they upload reviews, upcoming releases and experiences of meeting authors. I decided it was time to make a blog for myself! I am not very tech savvy so I worried it might be daunting, but I am slowly getting used to how everything works. I have already put up quite a few reviews, as well as an author interview. I am hoping over time that more people will follow my blog, and that it will become more well known.

Having a blog is a great way to connect with other readers and it's extremely safe too - you can choose who views your blog and who doesn't. I meet quite a lot of authors, and now I can just add them straight away onto my blog page and write about meeting them! I would recommend that anyone who loves books and writing think about starting a blog - you just need to have lots of things to write about, and good internet access of course!

The book community is full of lovely people, and having a book blog helps you to feel more involved and more up to date with what's going on in that world. It gives you the chance to chat to people you wouldn't usually be able to, and it has given me a whole new hobby!

Check out Lauren's blog here!  http://laurensbooklife.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Cathy says:
Sounds awesome! Have YOU ever kept a blog, or would you like to? If so, what would YOU blog about? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday 22 June 2015


Readers tell us about their favourite CC characters - and how they've brought them to life as artwork!

Sarah says:
I love Cherry Costello from the Chocolate Box Girls series - she is so much like me! She loves using her imagination and making up stories, and like her I sometimes find it hard to separate fiction from reality. Cherry is different, but she is never afraid to be herself. I have also found it hard to fit in at new places - I have had to change school several times and have had to deal with several Kirsty McRae clones! I am happy that Cherry finds her place and becomes part of a proper family, even though she misses her mum. I have even come up with my own series inspired by the Chocolate Box Girls - I wish Cherry was my best friend! I loved drawing Cherry and gave her a t-shirt which says 'I love Japan' in Japanese, and a cherry necklace.
Trina says:
Summer Tanberry is a great character. She is a lively, understanding, bubbly girl who adores ballet. It's her hobby and talent and she cannot go too long without dancing, no matter what. She is determined and won't let anyone get in the way of her goals - her story is touching, different and unique. Many books depict girls who focus on boys, school and looks, but Summer has a different focus and this stays central throughout her story. I chose to draw Summer because her character fascinates me - she isn't perfect, but that's what makes her perfect! The drawing shows Summer looking at herself in the mirror and all she can see is darkness because her thoughts are dark. The thought bubble also shows that she is thinking dark thoughts about herself and why she can't achieve her dream.

Matilda says:
I can definitely relate to Honey Tanberry the best of all the sisters. I don't have four sisters, but my parents are divorced and I've never really been able to understand why. At the time, I shut the world out and I was very angry that everyone I loved was leaving me. Girls like me… like Honey… we aren't looking for trouble, we are just searching for some care, some love. But… I think we may be going about it in the wrong way. I drew Honey Tanberry because art is my favourite way to express myself - sometimes words just aren't enough, and of course with art, nobody is judging my spelling or my grammar!

Abigail says:
I love the character Indigo from the book INDIGO BLUE because she manages to get through such a tough time. She and her friend Jo do not always see eye to eye in the book, but no matter what happens they will always be best friends… their friendship is able to survive the challenges. I especially like Indigo because her way to feel safe is to daydream - she manages to stay strong by using her dream world to escape from reality. It's her safe place. I like her style, too - it's very different and imaginative, which made her great to draw! It was fun to bring her to life on paper. I'd like to improve my drawing and go on learning and practicing… I'm only twelve right now but one day in the future I'd love to write and illustrate my own books! I find the CC books very inspiring and I'd love to meet Cathy one day!

Cathy says:
I love these drawings… they really do bring my characters to life! Have YOU got a fave CC character? COMMENT BELOW to tell me who, and why - or send me a picture - I might include you in a future feature!

Sunday 21 June 2015


Readers share their best advice on being true to yourself and finding a little bit of happiness in every day!

Saffie says:
Confidence is a train. For some it goes smoothly but for the majority of us it has bumps. Teenagers are on this train… and it's not fair, as the majority of us are self-conscious for their faces, hair, size. For me, I feel like I am OK. I don't care what anyone thinks of me. If I like it, why can't others? And if you don't like it, how can you expect others to? I feel that wearing make up is something we mainly do for ourselves, but too much? It's perhaps just trying to fit in. No one deserves to have their confidence train crash and burn.

Rebecca says:
In this life, almost everyone will have something to say about you. We are trained to think we have to look a certain way, right from when we are toddlers, with stick-thin Barbie dolls that don't have as much as a freckle. As teens we compare ourselves to movie stars (who probably eat mostly lettuce) as well as our friends. If make up was a religion, most girls would follow it - make up can make you feel more confident, but trust me, you DON'T need it. You are perfect in every way. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Alannah says:
Growing up in a very mixed-up society, too many young people are forced to conform to a set of standards designed to make everyone the same. People must change themselves, fit the mould, in order to feel welcome. As a result, unique and brilliant qualities are hidden as the person tries to fit society's perfect model… and disillusionment follows as we realise that nobody is perfect.

Carrie says:
I think the teen years are the hardest of all. When I was little I just didn't care too much what others thought of me, and now (I am fifteen) I waste hours every day worrying what my friends may think of me or worse, what strangers may think. I also spend stupid amounts of time trying to be 'pretty' and fit in with the crowd, with the hope that boys will notice and approve of me. I don't like that I act this way. I think it's ridiculous but I still can't seem to help it. I want to be myself, confident and happy and brave, but usually I don't manage. One thing I know, though, it is getting a little easier as time goes by. My courage and confidence are growing. We are all amazing as we are, I know this, yet listening to my own advice is not always easy!

Emma says:
Don't let anyone ruin your day because all you have to do is smile and be happy to ruin theirs! Ignore anyone who is trying to make you sad, unhappy or annoyed because they are trying to bring you down… they don't want you to be better than them. Life is short… smile while you still have teeth!

Michelle says:
Making the best of ourselves is done by truly being us. With the ever changing society that we live in, we tend to sway and all aim for the same goals, but that's not what it's about; that's not being ourselves. Let's not forget the uniqueness in the world and within ourselves. Every human is unique - let's celebrate that fact instead of trying to blend into the background!

The fabulous illustrations are by reader Hannah - wow! (And thank you!)

Cathy says:
Some great advice and insight from some pretty awesome readers! Do YOU feel you can be true to yourself or do you feel safer being part of the crowd? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 20 June 2015


Reader Kiki feels that GINGERSNAPS could almost be her story… read on to find out why!

Kiki says:
I've been a massive fan of Cathy Cassidy's books for as long as I can remember… but when I read her book GINGERSNAPS I realised it was a storyline I could relate to on a whole new level. Just like Ginger in the story, I was overweight and bullied in primary school, I hated my name and yes, I even had red hair. To add to all this, I made a friend in Year Seven who tried to make me cooler (only in this case, her intentions were kind!). I then made another friend who taught me to love myself as I am… and her name just happens to be Emily, like the character in the book! The similarities went on and on… I grew up drinking blue lemonade, took part in making the school newsletter and made several bands that never lasted very long.

It was like Cathy had taken my life and crafted it into Ginger's!

I have always wanted to be an author or a poet, and Cathy's characters inspired me to take a few further steps towards achieving that dream. I decided to create a Wordpress blog  and used it to write poems about Ginger, Sam and other CC characters (as well as writing and blogging on other subjects). I made one post which was an outfit for Ginger! My blog does take a lot of inspiration from GINGERSNAPS, but I think that's OK… I just identify with Ginger and Sam so much and I love finding inspiration and creativity from their story!

You can visit Kiki's blog here… https://kikiwantshercookie.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/a-wobbly-smile/

Cathy says:
Wow, I am SO happy that my book Gingersnaps has inspired Kiki to start writing and create an amazing blog of her own… I also LOVE her brilliant drawing of Ginger and Sam! Awww! Which CC story could be the book for YOUR life? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday 19 June 2015


Readers share their experiences of coming up against prejudice and discrimination…

Alice says:
I am French but my family are Polish, and I have a Polish surname. At school, people continually pronounce my surname wrong to make me angry, but two years ago it was worse… I was in a class where I had no friends and I was a victim of racism. People would say things like, 'Polish people do not have a place in France,' and other statements like that. It was horrible for me as I am totally French, it was just my grandfather who was Polish. I am not ashamed of my origins at all but it made me angry as France is just as much my country as theirs. I hope that things will change if we go on challenging the prejudice; one day racism will be wiped out.

Emily says:
Today at school we were supposed to revise for our SATs but then a teachers told us to change into our PE kits and we all got excited. Then a footballer from Burton Albion FC came in to the school, but it turned out that only boys could join in with the training. So while we studied for exams, the boys played games. How sexist! In this day and age they should make a point of treating us as equals.

Chloe says:
In primary school I was playing basketball when a boy threw the ball right in my face. I told the teacher and she said, 'You shouldn't be doing that kind of thing, you're a young girl.' Things like that happened over and over at that school… why shouldn't girls play basketball? Crazy.

Tessa says:
I am transgender… I am a girl, but I was born with the body of a boy. For the last few years I have been living as a girl which has made me feel a lot better, but not everybody understands and they can be very cruel. Some people call me 'he-she' and 'freak' and make a point of avoiding me, as if they cannot  stand to be anywhere near me. It hurts a lot, as you can imagine.

Rebecca says:
At my school, a professional boxer comes in every week to talk to the first year boys and teach them self-defence. The girls have to sit in class. When we asked the teacher one week why we girls couldn't do the same, he refused to answer.

Camille says:
I have been targeted by homophobes multiple times. I made the mistake of telling a friend about this and confessing that I liked a girl in our year. The following week at school everyone was staring at me and the girl I liked slapped me and made some very hurtful comments. There has been a lot of prejudice and nastiness since then. I try to ignore it, but it's not always easy.

Domi says:
Our CSPE teacher (civic, social and political education) was teaching us about Amnesty International's list of basic human rights, and I noticed she kept on skipping the clause that says 'Everyone has a right to marry and have a family.' I realised that she was leaving this out because she was against gay marriage, and I challenged her. She went very red and leaned in and hissed at me that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that anything else was, I quote, 'Disgusting, and ruining society.' She said so many spiteful, cruel things that day I will never forget it, and ever since she has marked my work down, I think for disagreeing with her. She was clearly so full of prejudice and hatred, and it felt quite personal to me as I myself do not fit into her narrow belief set.

Top illustration by reader Rebecca; bottom one by reader Aine - many thanks for the fab images, girls!

Cathy says: Ouch… being picked on or discriminated against for just being you is no joke at all. Have YOU ever had to cope with prejudice or discrimination? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Wednesday 17 June 2015


I am a firm believer that anyone can blog and/or write a book if they set their mind to it. Well, almost anyone! And rescue lurcher Worzel, whose Facebook page I follow loyally, has just proved me right… read on and see why!

Worzel says:
My name is Worzel Wooface and I are a Hounds First Sighthound Rescue dog. Hounds First help to find safe and luffly homes for lurchers, greyhounds, whippets and other long, tall, skinny dogs all across the UK. I came to live with my famberly in Suffolk in 2014 and ever since I've kept a diary of my life; I are a dog wot blogs.

I write about my hadventures and successes but I is also very honest and I tell people when fings go wrong… like the time I jumped in our neighbours pond and refused to get out. I also tell stories about the people in my famberly, and mostly they think my stories are fabumazing but the teenagers who live here are not so sure. They say they'd like to be able to get a job one day, or a date, or even just get served in the shop without people giggling at them, so I call them the 'previously ginger one' and the 'fuge ginger boyman' in my stories, even though they has perfectly good real names. I also write about the five cats who live with my famberly - mostly they are friendly to their luffly boykin Worzel, but some of them are quite blinkin' scary and bop me on the nose for no reason at-very-tall. I find it quite hard to know how I has hoffended them.

Recently, as well as being a dog wot blogs, I has becomed an author. An author is someboddedy who sits in a room with a confuser and tells everyboddedy to make the dinner because they are too busy trying to meet a deadline. Or remember a himportant word that they wanted to use but then forget it because the milkman rings the doorbell and wants his money. My book WORZEL WOOFACE - MY QUITE VERY ACTUAL BOOK has just been published and you can get it from amazon. A percentage of the book is going to support Hounds First Sighthound Rescue. I has made two types of books - an e-book and an hedible version. Hoomans call the hedible version a paperback. Mum says that I should not be doing nibbling on books because it is actual very hexpensive. But if she leaves one on the bed then I can't actual resist - they is just too actual yummy for words.

You can find out more about Worzel here…

Find out more about Hounds First Sighthound Rescue at www.houndsfirst.co.uk

Cathy says:
I have two rescue lurchers too and am a big fan of the lovely Worzel… I have just ordered his book. With a percentage of the sales going to Hounds First Sighthound Rescue, I couldn't resist! If you're a dog-lover, you could do the same! Do YOU have a pet with a story to tell? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday 14 June 2015


Reader Blue shares her fab review of FORTUNE COOKIE - have you got your copy yet?

Blue says:
FORTUNE COOKIE is the last book in the roller-coaster of a series that is the Chocolate Box Girls - and boy, did it go out with a bang! It's a little different from the first five books as it's narrated by a boy, the sisters' long-lost half-brother Jake, nicknamed Cookie. Jake is just as family oriented and fiercely protective as the half-sisters he's never met, but he's different too, as all the siblings are. He has different speech patterns (I honestly have no idea how Cathy manages that!) and he's caring and impulsive. When you realise that, you know you're in for a good read! There are ups and downs and tense moments galore, times when you relate to Jake and understand his motives and times when you want to pinch the bridge of your nose and sigh at his actions and ideas. He is stubborn like his half-sisters and lands himself in situations that will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next.Talk about unpredictable - it's such an exciting book!

Cathy has a way of making the characters relatable and real - there are no perfect people with perfect lives, just flawed people fighting their own personal battles and trying to be the best they can be.We care about these characters, their lives and what happens to them. It makes the transfer of feelings more intense - Jake's worries are our worries, his tears are our tears and his happiness is our happiness. The book is an unpredictable and somewhat bumpy ride, but it wraps up nicely. I like that in a series closer; I like to know how everything works out and I'm sure Cathy's other fans will appreciate it too. If you've read the Chocolate Box Girls series from start to finish, expect a good kick of nostalgia following the twists and turns, the revelations and secrets - and the truces you never thought you'd see!

As with all the books in this series, expect a large helping of chocolatey goodness, laden with mouthwatering adjectives. Ooh… I could go for some of Paddy's truffles right about now! Maybe it's obvious but I'm going to use fortune cookies as the measurement of excellence for this novel - five out of five fortune cookies are awarded here! An amazing end to an amazing series… the best end to a series I've ever read. If you haven't read it yet, please do… it's awesome, and the cover is lovely, too!

Cathy says:
I LOVE this review… and I love Blue's FaceQ pic of Cookie, too! Have YOU read FORTUNE COOKIE yet? Send me your review and I'll put the coolest on DREAMCATCHER!

Saturday 13 June 2015


Have you ever been to a music festival? Reader Marie has… but the happy memories turned to regret as soon as she got home...

Marie says:
I have friends who go to music festivals quite a bit, and I had always wanted to do something like that too. When my parents said that we could go as a family to a festival down on the south coast, I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be just like something out of the pages of Dizzy - that I might find my very own 'Finn'. And it was almost exactly like that.

We pitched our tent and went to explore, and the festival was just amazing - great stalls, wonderful food, fantastic music and everywhere you looked, interesting, cool people, all dressed to party and have fun. Before long, I made friends with a girl from one of the tents nearby, Aruna, and we went around together after that. My parents weren't as strict on bedtimes and rules as they were at home… suddenly, I had a lot more freedom.

I met Ryan on the second day. He was gorgeous… so good looking and really funny. And he seemed to be interested in ME. I felt different from the shy, quiet person I was at school… at the festival, with Aruna as my new friend, anything was possible. I felt myself falling for Ryan. I had my first kiss, and after that we went around as a threesome, Ryan, Aruna and I. We stayed out late and when I did get back to the tent I couldn't sleep because all I could think about was Ryan and how it had felt when we kissed. On the last day, we spent more time alone and talked about all kinds of things… I honestly felt I'd never met anyone who understood me as well as Ryan did. We kissed some more and promised to keep in touch after the festival. I could barely wipe the grin off my face for the whole journey home, and back at school I told all my friends about him.

There was no storybook romance, though, no happy ending for me and Ryan. He never answered my texts or calls, the emails I sent bounced back and when I tracked him down on Facebook and sent a friend request, he just ignored it. I thought it was a mistake… I couldn't believe he'd drop me like that, but he did. One thing that I did get from that festival was a new friendship, with Aruna. She was there to talk to and message and she understood how I was feeling, but the hurt was so sharp I genuinely wished I'd never met Ryan at all. Why would he make all those promises and then drop me like I didn't matter at all? I have learned the hard way that boys are not always what they seem, and that life is rarely like a storybook. It will take me a long time to trust again.

Picture posed by model Clara - thank you!

Cathy says:
Marie's experience is upsetting, but not unusual. Sometimes, a holiday romance that seems very real and very intense an fade away rapidly when real life routines return. Have YOU ever had your heart broken? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Thursday 11 June 2015


More readers share their memories of meeting Cathy… 

Eden says:
I met Cathy at a book reading in Guernsey last year. She read a passage from COCO CARAMEL and talked about her books, and her life before becoming an author. The next day we went to another event of hers, which was aimed at younger children… Cathy read an extract from DAIZY STAR. After that, my mum and I did a writing workshop with her about writing for children… me and another teenage girl were the only children in the workshop, it was mostly adults. Cathy asked me to write something for the DREAMCATCHER blog, which I did, and I also got three of my favourite Cathy Cassidy books signed. Cathy was very friendly when I met her and I would love to see her again!

Beth says:
Don't you just love travelling? The airport, the waiting at security (OK maybe not that bit!) and boarding the plane? As I waited at security I had butterflies in my tummy; I had never been to a book festival before and wasn't sure what to expect. I was flying to Bath Children's Lit Fest to meet some of my favourite authors ever - like Cathy Cassidy - and I was worried that I'd end up doing something silly, forgetting how to speak or falling over on top of someone. (Wouldn't be the first time!) After what seemed like ages, we got on the plane - I was on the way to meet the people who had created my obsessions! The waiting was worth it; it turned out to be the best holiday ever!
Anna says:
I was very happy to meet the author Cathy Cassidy at the spring book fair in Montaigu in France. I have read all her books (well, all of the ones that are in French!) and I love them. It was COEUR COCO (COCO CARAMEL) which gave me the idea to help the pandas, as Coco did. I organized a cake sale. I raised a lot of money for the pandas in China. I got my whole school involved… and we raised 230 euros for the pandas. My fundraising got into the papers and also onto the World Wildlife Fund (France) Facebook pages. I was very proud, and it was so amazing to meet Cathy Cassidy and explain how her book had inspired me to do all of this!

Cathy says:
I absolutely love meeting my readers - every single one of them is inspiring ! Have YOU ever been to a book signing? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday 9 June 2015


Reader Molly has battled serious health problems, but her hobby helps her to beat the blues… 

Molly says:
I'm thirteen and I found out two years ago that I have a heart condition and assorted complications. This  makes life complicated and difficult at times, and limits me too, because now there are many things I just cannot do. Instead of feeling fed up about all the things I couldn't do, I decided to focus on what I could…

I remember the first time I used a sewing machine; my mum used to make and sell craft items and I always loved the things she made, so we found a project to do together. It was a small stuffed owl and it wasn't complicated at all… although looking back now, I can see I have improved a lot since then! After that, I began to make little pincushions and owls for family members… I realised that I found sewing quite therapeutic.

One Christmas, my grandparents bought me a purple and blue John Lewis sewing machine, and I loved it. At high school I found out that one of my best friends had a mum who ran sewing classes. I started to attend these classes and my knowledge and skills improved. Within the first two lessons I had made bunting - it's still one of my favourite things to make as it doesn't take long and is very pretty once completed! I have been going to the lessons for two years now, and in that time I have made numerous items… a patchwork stuffed dog, a large owl cushion, a quilted make up bag and much, much more!

In the future I plan to keep sewing as a hobby, but I don't think I want to do it for a job as sometimes it can be stressful! I have had occasions when I've been upset because I'm not happy with how things turned out, but I suppose these things happen and practice makes perfect! I definitely recommend sewing as a hobby, though, as it can be so satisfying and rewarding. I believe everyone has something that makes them happy… whether it's sewing or something quite different like dancing or music, we all need a little escapism in life!

Cathy says:
I'm feeling pretty inspired myself, now! I love sewing, though I'm not the neatest crafter… oh, well! Do YOU have a hobby that makes you happy? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday 8 June 2015


Readers tell us what dance means to them… could it be YOUR fave hobby too?
Georgia says:
Dance is literally my life. From the first time I walked into the studio at the age of two, it felt like my home. Twelve years later it is still my home and I spend the best part of my week there. Even the days that are not spent in the studio are spent choreographing new routines or trying out different moves. I honestly don't know what I would have done without dance in my life… at the moment I literally cannot live without it. I do five different kinds of dance - ballet, tap, modern jazz, acro and contemporary. My favourites are either ballet or contemporary because they allow you to show your feelings and express different emotions in response to a piece of music. Dance has made me a stronger person physically and mentally, and more confident too. I love performing, so when we do shows I feel right at home dancing in front of a big audience. There are so many opportunities with dance and I have made some great friends because of it!
Tia says:
I do modern/ freestyle dance - I love it, and have been doing it for a year and a half. Last year, my dance school was invited to take part in the Strictly Come Dancing tour with stars from the TV show. We had to produce two seven minute dances and we have been asked to do something similar this June. I used to dance when I was much younger, around four, but my confidence wasn't great back then and I didn't really stick to it. When I started again in 2013 I made lots of new friends. I knew I'd struggle with confidence for the Strictly performance, so I made myself do several smaller ones at fairs and small festivals, which really boosted my morale and helped lots.

Hannah says:
I have been dancing since I was two years old - I do ballet, modern and tap, and I love all of them. Dancing is my life, and I study every night of the week and also at weekends. It can be hard work, but it doesn't always feel that way because it's something I want to do. I love dancing - I enjoy telling a story through movement and I love knowing that people all over the world can understand that story. That's the magic of dance - it cuts across all language barriers and just about every culture I can think of have a dance tradition. It's a very human way to express yourself. I have been lucky enough to dance in professional shows and they are always fun - sometimes, you get to dance with the most amazing people. I have also taken part in a number of dance competitions and they are great fun too, because they bring people from the dance community together. I absolutely love dance and I will never stop loving it!

Cathy says:
I love the passion and enthusiasm Georgia, Tia and Hannah show in their accounts… it almost makes me want to dance, too, and I have two left feet for sure! Have you ever studied dance? Did you love it or find it hard work? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 6 June 2015


Reader Lucy, aged fifteen, describes what it's like to be bullied - and shares her tactics for coping with the hurt.

Lucy says:
I am a big fan of Cathy Cassidy's books - I've read every single one and it's weird, because much of what she writes about in her books are things that have happened to me. I relate to the books so much and they have helped me through some very bad times. I have been a victim of extreme bullying; and when I say extreme, I mean EXTREME. I don't wear make up, I'm probably not the prettiest… but I don't think I am awful, either. I don't think I deserve to be singled out… I don't look so very different from anybody else. For some reason, the bullies see me as an easy target, perhaps because I love work. I don't get detentions. I always want to study and revise and I miss out on parties that I'd really love to go to because I am shy and because my homework comes first. This, of course, is another reason I am picked on.

I get called 'fat', 'ugly', 'boring' and 'useless' - and it's not just one person behind the name calling, it's everyone. I know those things aren't true, but after all this time the words seep under my skin and a part of me begins to believe them. I never answer back, because in my first year of secondary school I stood up to one  girl in my year and found myself being blamed for being the bully myself. Mostly I just take the negativity and move on, but as I get older it gets worse. I've tried wearing make-up to school to try to fit in and look pretty, and I just get laughed at for 'trying too hard.'

Every time I am down and feel like running away and starting again, I turn to Cathy's books - my favourite is Gingersnaps. Every time I read the books I completely forget everything but the story and am whisked away into Ginger's world, or Scarlett's, or Hannah's. The books are my escape route from a life that feels very grim and difficult… but one day, when I get straight As and the haters get Fs, well, maybe I will be the one who's laughing. I hope it doesn't sound harsh, but I have to believe that that day will come.

Pictures posed by model Sydney, with thanks.

Cathy says:
It's wonderful to know that Lucy finds an escape in my books, but do you think she is right to try to cope alone without getting adult help? Continual bullying can wreck self-esteem and ruin lives. What would YOU do? COMMENT BELOW and share your views...


Readers share their passion for writing and tell all about the world of fan fiction…

Lauren says:
My take on fan fiction is to use real life people in my books, mostly celebrities. I always make the main character of the book my own creation and the characters based on celebrities all have a unique personality which I have created, too. My stories are mostly romance-themed… I love bringing two very different people together in a story! Writing means a lot to me as it is my way of coping with some of the difficult things going on in my life. It also lets my imagination come alive! I post my stories on Wattpad and I have gained a lot of lovely readers on my main book, which is now on 200,000 reads. I'm not sure how that happened… I never even imagined I'd get to 1000! I love seeing the reactions of the readers each time I update the story… the comments are always lovely and encouraging and make me smile. It motivates me to keep on writing and makes me very happy!

Chloe says:
I read a lot of teen fiction and a couple of years ago I became completely obsessed with reading everything about Harry Potter, Hunger Games and several other series. I enjoyed reading other people's stories about these characters and seeing how they felt the stories should or could have ended. I loved their views but I had my own ideas about what might happen, so a friend pointed me in the Direction of a site called Quotev where I could write to my hearts content. I began writing and publishing my own fan fiction and of course I never dreamed anyone would read it, but they did - and they liked it. I started to write more and fell in love with what I was doing, and now I have followers, hearts and comments on my work which is thrilling because I am just doing something I really enjoy!

Charlotte says:
I write Harry Potter fan fiction on Wattpad. The first book has over 1.66k reads and I am so proud that it has achieved that! When I started writing Avada Kedavra around eight months ago, I never dreamed anything like that could happen. I've had some lovely comments from people and that's a great reward for all the hours I spend editing! I'm currently working on the sequel, Sectumsempra. Only a couple of my friends know about the stories and I like it that way; writing helps me escape from real life and focus on a magical world full of spells and wizards! It also helps me to improve my vocabulary and grammar. I have a few more ideas for fan fictions but I am not ready to share them just yet - they still need loads of work!

Katie says:
I write fan fiction because it's a great way of improving my writing skills and I like to think up alternate endings for things I have seen, such as TV episodes. I mainly write about Doctor Who but I take inspiration from lots of things. Writing makes me feel happy, and closer to the characters I know well and am writing about. For anyone who would like to start writing fan fiction, I recommend a site like Wattpad (which I use) where you can categorise your fanfic and broadcast it to other fans of the theme you are wiring about. You get some lovely feedback, and you get to meet others who write the same kind of stories as you!

Cathy says:
Some great accounts here… I think I'd have loved fan fiction sites if they had been around when I was a teen! Have YOU ever written fan fiction? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Thursday 4 June 2015


Another in our regular series of growing up in a different decade… we talk to Beth, who was a teen in the 1980s!

Beth says:
I remember the 80s as being very colourful - we had bright clothes with transfer pictures on them and jumpers you could wear inside out with patterns on both sides. My hair was either very short in a 'beans on toast' style, curly on top and short at the sides… or, when it was a bit longer, I had a 'palm tree' ponytail with about five neon bright scrunchies keeping it straight up in the air.

My childhood was quite strange compared to some as my dad owned a jazz band, so we were constantly traveling at weekends and in the holidays, and went to Butlins twice a year to play. They'd close the whole holiday camp just for jazz bands and we stayed in chalets for the week, competing at the weekend and then enjoying the camp! I'd spend all my time in the pool, then run back to the chalet at night with a towel around me and feet shoved into jelly shoes. At night I'd dress up in skinny jeans, legwarmers, tucker boots and bright crop-tops to dance at the discos! 

Music was a huge part of my life then, I was a massive Wham! fan and the walls and ceiling of my bedroom were covered in George Michael posters! My friend preferred Andrew and I loved George so we'd cut our posters in half and share! I used to take my big ghetto blaster everywhere - it was a big double tape machine and I'd record the hits on it on a Sunday afternoon. I played my singles very loudly and I used to cut out the words to the top 40 songs from Smash Hits magazine and glue them to my exercise books!

I loved reading… I discovered the mobile library which came to the village on a Saturday morning and read the Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams books. If we weren't away with the band, I'd sit on my front doorstep at 9.30am with my pile of books, waiting for the van to pull up before racing down to swap my books. The staff on the mobile library let me have an adults ticket because you could get eight books and two cassettes with that. There was a trilogy of books by author Francine Pascal about a girl called Caitlin - I loved the name and later called my daughter that as the character had always stayed with me.

My best memories were of Sunday afternoons in my bedroom on my own, listening to music, reading my library books and savouring a 20p mix-up from the sweet shop which I always managed to make last all afternoon!

Cathy says:
I LOVE this account… a lot of 1980s love, and a lot of library love too! Would YOU have liked growing up in the 1980s? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


Reader Halle felt so strongly that animals should not be used in circus shows that she joined a demonstration to protest about it… read on to find out why!

Halle says:
I was walking home from school one day and passed the site where the circus had parked up. I saw the tigers in their cages, walking back and forth with just a metre or so of space in their cages. When I got home I told my nana about it and she told me there was going to be a protest. I put on my tiger onesie and went along to protest with my nana. I disagree with the use of animals in circuses because I think it's cruel. The animals are whipped and forced to perform against their will - plus, animals like tigers should be free and in the wild. Animals are much like us, they have feelings, they can get very stressed and feel fear just as we do. The way I think people should see it is, imagine having your child taken away from you and forced to perform for someone else's entertainment. It's just wrong.

There are lots of things I would like to change right now for animals in circuses. I'd make sure there were bigger enclosures for all animals, and make it illegal for wild animals like tigers to be used - I would send them back to the wild or if that was not possible, then settle them in a sanctuary. As for animals like horses and camels, I would make sure there were no sticks for them to be poked, hit and 'trained' with.

At the protest, my nana and some of her friends were there so I didn't feel anxious or alone. People had signs and banners and we were trying to let people know what really goes on. There were two girls who turned away and went home when we told them about animals being whipped, but I saw a lot of people I knew go into the circus. That didn't stop me from protesting - I wanted to speak up for the animals. I suppose I have always had strong feelings for animals. I once saved a little kitten, the runt of the litter - she's called Rascals and I love her. I love all animals.

Changing things takes time, but I believe if we can raise awareness of how animals are treated in the circus, people would understand why it's wrong. For now, I'd advise people not to attend circuses that have wild animals. It's about raising awareness, really. If parents start teaching children from early on that it's wrong to keep wild animals in cages, then perhaps circuses with wild animals will finally become a thing of the past.

Cathy says:
I totally agree with Halle… I can't believe we still have animal circuses in 2015. To me, they seem like something from the dark ages and not the kind of 'entertainment' I would ever want to be a part of. And of course, COCO TANBERRY would agree as well! Have YOU ever joined in with a protest or stood up for something you believe in? COMMENT BELOW to tell me more...

Wednesday 3 June 2015


Reader Esther shares her recipe for making fab home-made bath bombs… how cool?

Esther says:
Everyone loves the novelty of fizzy bath bombs, but they can be expensive! Well, I'm here to solve your problems with a great recipe which will help you to make your own…

You will need:
100g bicarbonate of soda
35g citric acid (try Wilco or your local grocery store)
10ml fragnance
Dash of food colouring

1. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and citric acid together until the powder is mixed thoroughly.

2. Add a dash of food colouring - enough to get the shade you want. Stir the mixture quickly to prevent too much fizzing. Mix until the colour is blended evenly throughout the powder, avoiding any 'spots'.

3. Add the fragrance (this can be any perfume). Yet again, this may cause the mixture to fizz so stir quickly!

4. Add a little water. The recipe I used said not to add too much but it must be able to hold together in your hand - if it's still powdery, add a little more water. It will fizz when you add water so again, mix quickly… if it doesn't fizz, you've done something wrong!

5. Not many of us have bath bomb moulds, so try ice cube trays or chocolate moulds - I used heart-shaped ones! Make sure the moulds are dry because at this point you DON'T want them to fizz! Put the mixture into the moulds.

6. Place in the freezer for as long as it takes for the mixture to go solid.

7. Once they are frozen properly, remove from freezer, run a hot bath and enjoy your bath bombs!

Cathy says: 
Brilliant, Esther… I think I will be trying these! Have YOU got any cool craft ideas or recipes to share? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!


Reader Emily, aged ten, explains how a Cathy Cassidy book inspired her to raise money for a refugee charity... Emily says: The Cathy Cassidy...