Friday 28 December 2018


1) Which British monarch introduced the Christmas tree to the UK?
A )King Alfred The Great
B) Henry viii
C) Queen Victoria

2) Who was the author of A Christmas Carol?
A) Cathy Cassidy
B) Jaqueline Wilson
C) Charles Dickens

3) In which direction should you stir mincemeat for good luck? 
A) Clockwise
B) Anti-clockwise
C) Equal amounts in both directions

4) Which of the CC books does NOT contain a Christmasy scene?
A) Marshmallow Skye
B) Sundae Girl
C) Sami’s Silver Lining

5) In medieval Britain, which dish would NOT have been part of a nobleman's traditional Yuletide feast?
A) Turkey
B) Roast goose
C) Roast swan

6) On the night of the first Christmas, where did Mary and Joseph take shelter so that Jesus could be born?
A) An inn
B) A Stable
C) Bethlehem B&B

7) How do you say Happy Christmas in French?
A) Joyeux Noël
B) Feliz Navidad
C) Fröhliche Weihnachten

8) On which day did Good King Wenceslas go out?
A) The first day of the January sales
B) The Feast of Stephen
C) The Winter solstice

9) What treat do the carollers in ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ demand to be given?
A) Chocolate yule log
B) Trifle
C) Figgy pudding

Raymond Briggs, author of The Snowman, book and film, also wrote… ?
A) Father Christmas
B) How The Grinch Stole Christmas
C) The Polar Express

Jot down your answers and email them to me at: to be in with a chance of winning a cool festive prize! Closing date: January 13th.

Saturday 22 December 2018


Reader Cara explains various traditions around Christmas-time and how they came to be... read on!

Cara says:
On Christmas Eve, all across the country and beyond, excited children are hanging their stockings at the end of the bed, or sometimes, like the sisters in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS, on the mantlepiece around the fire. Where did this custom come from? How did it start? Like many of our Christmas traditions, folklore mixes in with Christianity to form a Christmas Eve custom.

One old story tells of a poor man unable to buy clothes or food for his three daughters. In some versions, the problem is a lack of ‘dowry’ without which the girls would never be allowed to get married. A kind neighbour decided to help, and to avoid making the poor man embarrassed, he threw three gold coins down the chimney, which then fell by accident into three stockings drying by the fire! The neighbour later became known as St Nicholas.

A different legend, from Holland, describes a character called Sinterklaas travelling around on his white horse. He would stop to let his horse feed on carrots or hay which children would leave out on the doorstep in their clogs. In return, he would leave presents and sweets. But it was not until 1823 that the poet Clement Clarke Moore wrote the verse ‘A Visit From St Nicholas’ which included the lines: ‘The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in the hope that St Nicholas soon would be there.’

The tradition became a firm part of Christmas - all long before the arrival of the Coca Cola lorry - and families still hang stockings or sacks for Father Christmas to fill, almost 200 years later!

Cathy says:
Love this - thank you, Cara! What are YOUR Christmas Eve traditions? COMMENT BELOW to tell all!

Wednesday 19 December 2018


This easy to make hot choc mix tastes fab and looks amazing too - PERFECT for a last minute home made pressie! It'll keep for two weeks in a sealed jar so make it just before you gift it...

  • a beautiful home-made label (let your creativity go wild!)
  • a clean jam jar with the labels scrubbed off
  • a grater
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • a parcel label and curling ribbon

1) Stick your label on the jam jar. Experiment with brown or black paper with 'Hot Chocolate' painted or collaged on.

2) Coarsely grate the dark chocolate. Mix the caster sugar and cocoa powder together, straight into the jar, and stir in the grated chocolate (or layer each ingredient separately for a striped effect.)

3) Screw the lid on tightly.

4) Write instructions for making the hot choc on a parcel label: 'Place a heaped table-spoon of hot chocolate mix in a mug and top with hot milk or a mixture of milk and boiling water. Stir and serve!'

5) Tie the label round the neck of the jar and store it in the fridge until you're ready to gift it. Cheap, cheerful and super-yummy hot choc mix makes a perfect pressie for friends or family - make one just for YOU, too!

Cathy says:
Another fab idea for a homemade Xmas pressie from my CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS book... which would make a pretty awesome Xmas gift itself, now that you mention it! Have you done all YOUR Xmas shopping? COMMENT BELOW to tell us how you're getting on!

Saturday 15 December 2018


Coco says:
Grandma Kate told us that kids went carol singing a lot when she was little, so we decided to revive the tradition. We made a list of our favourite carols, dressed up warm, carried lanterns and went singing from door to door. Shay played guitar and I played violin; we had a great time and collected almost £40 for one of my favourite animal charities. A whole new tradition, I think!

Christmas Carols to try:Away in a Manger
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
  • Little Donkey
  • In the Bleak Midwinter
  • Once in Royal David's City
Or try a traditional Christmas song:
  • White Christmas
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Jingle Bells
Or mix it up with a more modern cover:
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You
  • Fairytale of New York
  • Last Christmas
  • So Here It Is (Merry Christmas)
  • I Believe in Father Christmas

Cathy says:
Aww... love these Tanglewood Christmas traditions! Why not read MARSHMALLOW SKYE to find out more about how the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS spend Christmas? Now, tell me YOUR fave Christmas song... COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday 10 December 2018


Cake queen Helen has a great recipe for Rudolf cookies - guaranteed to get you into a Christmassy mood!

You will need:
 8oz self raising flour 
4oz caster sugar 
4 oz butter or baking margarine like stork
one egg, beaten
Optional flavouring - ground ginger, vanilla essence, lemon flavouring... whatever you like!
Gingerbread man cookie cutter (turn it upside down and it's a reindeer cookie cutter!)

- Mix sugar and flour then rub in the butter until it forms a breadcrumb-like texture. 

- Combine dry mixture with the beaten egg 

- At this stage, you could add a flavouring like vanilla, almond or lemon... or even a good pinch of ginger!

- Bring the mixture together to form a dough.

- Chill In fridge for one hour 

- Roll out the dough on a floured board and use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out the cookies.

- Place cookies on a greased baking tray and bake at 175 for  10-15 mins. The cookies should be a nice golden brown... don't let them burn!

- Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack.

- When cool, turn the gingerbread man shapes upside down - they now look like reindeer faces!

- Decorate using chocolate writing pens or icing pens from any good supermarket, a bit of red 'royal' icing for the nose and edible googly eyes!

- Only one thing left - test out your cookies! Perfect for sharing with family and friends. Mmmm!

Cathy says:
Oooh! These look easy enough even for me to try... this is a perfect pre-Christmas baking project! Do YOU have a favourite festive recipe? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 2 December 2018


Honey Tanberry shares her recipe for the perfect winter warmer... 

  • 1 mug of whole milk (skimmed and soya both work fine, or try oat or cashew or coconut...  but whole milk is my fave)
  • a small, non-stick saucepan
  • 1/2 medium-sized, good quality chocolate bar, roughly grated (I used leftover chocolate from Paddy's workshop)
  • a wooden spoon
  • squirty cream
  • cocoa powder
  • a candy cane, to stir (optional!)
1) Pour the milk into the saucepan and place it on a low heat.

2) Add the grated chocolate and stir patiently with the wooden spoon until the milk heats and the chocolate begins to melt. This is the only difficult bit (patient? me?) but you have to watch milk because it heats very quickly and can boil over or even burn. Get an adult to supervise if you're a kitchen klutz!

3) Once small bubbles begin to form on the surface, take the pan off the heat and pour the chocolatey milk into your mug.

4) Top with a squirt of cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder, plus a little grated chocolate and a candy cane to finish.

Serve with a long spoon and a big smile!!

Honey's recipe makes the perfect, decadent hot chocolate... I have a feeling we'll be needing it this December! Give it a go and COMMENT BELOW to add your fave extras! This and many other cool projects is from CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... a perfect addition to any Christmas list!

Saturday 1 December 2018


Your stars, as read by our own Skye Tanberry, to set you up for a month of Christmas cheer! 

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
The cold winds seem to be blowing, as winter settles. Things may appear a bit drab in the run up to Christmas, but remember there is magic in the wind. As it blows away old ideas, it brings fresh and exciting prospects for you!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
Your friends offer opportunity this month - they're in the mood to celebrate, so get out there and check out those Christmas parties!  Balance this with quieter, more meditative moments and you'll sail though the month!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Scattered and stressed? Doesn’t sound like your normal self - you are usually very organised and ‘on it!’ Don’t worry about this too much, it is just your heads way of dealing with some significant changes, and of course Christmas just piles on the stress too. You will come out of it all with a much clearer vision, promise!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are usually quite an active, sporty person but this month you have gone beyond! Not only with exercise, you have been busy as a bee socialising and making the most of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Remember a bit of quiet ‘me’ time is always healthy too!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
A new found confidence may come your way, with reinforcements from those around you. Revel in it, you deserve it! It isn’t your abilities that have changed, it is your attitude - and this will ensure you have a festive season to remember!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Your artistic side is shining this December - use it to create something beautiful! If you are not usually creative, test out your abilities… pick up a paint brush, sketch your best friend or sing a Christmas song! You could even make some creative prezzies for your pals...

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
You may not always be the most outgoing person in your friend group, but you are the one who brings people together. Why not organise a Christmas sleepover with your besties and take a moment to celebrate your friendship? Good work!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You seem to have your head permanently in a book these days, and rightly so - they are arguably the best learning resource going! However, remember there are those around you who need a little bit of attention too! Christmas may challenge your organisational skills, but the hard work will be worth it.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Your home life is very important this month, there are a few creases to iron out with certain relations - the run up to Christmas can be a notoriously stressy time! A bit of time and TLC will do the trick... try having a Christmas movie night, or baking a cake to cheer everyone up!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Fed up with all the Christmas madness? Time to set aside material objects and get back to nature. The crisp winter air has settled and the winter sun shines kindly on your face! Take a stroll in the park or the countryside, either solo or with a choice friend or relation!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Winter is sometimes a time where people can get stuck into negativity - defy this and focus on happy thoughts! Christmas is around the corner, which means family, fun and fabulous food! Your headspace is sacred, so pay it some overdue attention.

Cathy says:
Lots in store for you this festive season! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday 29 November 2018


Readers Kelsie, Ava, Ellie, Milly and Emily share their personal review of CC book DIZZY and how it helped to form their friendship! 

Kelsie, Ava, Ellie, Milly & Emily say:
So... we actually met in a library over this book! We’d all heard of the book and then Ava was reading it in the school library at lunchtime. Emily met with her and instantly sparked a conversation about the book. She introduced the rest of us to Ava and we gradually formed the great friendship we have now!

Our favourite part of the story is when Finn, Mouse and Dizzy go for a day in town and then to the beach because we think it sounds like a perfect day! We have our own favourite characters, Emily and Milly love Mouse because they say he’s so cute, Ava and Ellie like Finn, they say he sounds really cute and Kelsie loves Dizzy because she says that she’s the strongest most believable character she’s met yet. We all think it’s because we can relate to our favourite characters because we’ve been in their situations before.

We have a meeting every week and we can all tell each other what’s going on in our lives and a couple weeks ago Ava told us that her parents were splitting up. She said that being good friends with us and reading DIZZY will hopefully help her get through any tricky times ahead.

At the meeting we also always come up with alternate endings to CC books and we emailed one as an idea for a new book - it was about Finn and Dizzy growing up and getting together, we thought that it would be a good in between story for people who wondered what happened to Dizzy, Finn and Mouse in the years between DIZZY and LUCKY STAR!

We all feel that DIZZY is an honest, open book, one we will read at ninety years old and still enjoy. Describing it in three words we’d say it was: outrageous, caring and strong. We loved it so much!

Love this... the story of a friendship that began with one of my books, what could be cooler? Do YOU have a friend who loves books as much as you do? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday 25 November 2018


Honey Tanberry shares how to make your own advent calendar... with a cute home made twist! 

An advent calendar is an essential for December, right? When you're little it has to be chocolate, but now Mum and Paddy run a chocolate business so chocolate isn't as rare or exciting as it used to be! Recently we came up with an idea for a different kind of advent calendar and it's so easy to make...

  •  24 small squares of brown paper (approx 6 x 6cm)
  • scissors
  • a fine paintbrush
  • white and black paint
  • 24 multi-coloured envelopes 
  • a glue stick
  • white PVA glue and glitter/stick on stars 
  • 24 chocolate coins (optional)
  • squares of coloured paper
  • fineliner pens
  • several metres of bright or striped cord
  • 24 wooden clothes pegs
1) Cut out the brown paper squares. Using the fine brush, paint the numbers from 1-24 on the squares, alternating white and black paint. Allow to dry.

2) Set out the coloured envelopes in an order that pleases you. Use the glue stick to stick the number squares on to the envelope fronts.

3) Spread a thin layer of white PVA glue randomly on the envelope fronts and sprinkle glitter over them... or stick on gold stars!

4) If you want to include a little bit of chocolate, slip a chocolate coin into each envelope.

5) Now it's just a case of what to write on those squares of coloured paper! It could be inspiring quotes or compliments, or maybe challenges, jokes or even dares! You decide!

  • lip balm
  • nail varnish
  • earrings
  • key ring
  • glow stick
  • bookmark
  • mini notebook
  • fake tattoos
  • cool pen
  • candy cane
  • hairclips
  • bracelet 
  • Christmas decoration
  • badge
  • stickers
Love this... we are big fans of a 'home made' Christmas at our house, too! You'll find this project and LOTS more festive fun in my book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... track it down to save yourself some pennies this Christmas, or put it on your prezzie list! Have YOU got an advent calendar this year? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday 24 November 2018


Reader Maria reviews CC's book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... take a peek! 

I am a big fan of Cathy Cassidy books and the CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS is the first one that I owned. I borrowed it from the local library so many times that my parents got it for me! I was ecstatic when I saw it and quickly looked through it, folding down the corners of pages that I thought would be useful or fun to experiment with. It is very precious to me as I met Cathy Cassidy in Dublin not long ago, and she signed that book for me!

CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS has tons of ideas inspired by the Chocolate Box Girls series, from cookery to crafting, and the instructions are clear and simple to follow. It is separated into seasons, with suggestions for things that would suit each season (and month) of the year. The seasons are like chapters. It can be used for lots of things: hairstyles, recipes and it has top tips for making tops (top tips…ha ha.) There are also gifts ideas for family and friends. You can try out some fab Christmas gifts to surprise your BFFs!

I don’t like most cakes, so I was happy that there was a fridge cake recipe in the book. I made it and it was AMAZING!!! (I had to swap cherries with mini marshmallows as I don’t like cherries.) However cake fans, do not despair as there are some other great cake recipes inside too. The book has SO many ideas and best of all, some of them involve chocolate!

When I met Cathy Cassidy she told me that she especially enjoyed writing this book as she got to try and test out everything, and it is my favourite book too as it can really get your creative juices flowing!

Cathy says:
I LOVE this review from Maria... and she's right, CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS is definitely a favourite for me! It's the perfect book for my arty, creative, extra-awesome readers (that's all of you, let's face it!) and the sisters from the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series introduce each project! Put it on your Christmas list - or buy it now and save a fortune by making your own cool Christmas prezzies! Would you like to see some projects from the book on DREAMCATCHER? Just COMMENT BELOW to let me know!

Tuesday 20 November 2018


Readers share their verdicts on the last novel in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series... read on to see what people think about FORTUNE COOKIE!

Ebony says:
FORTUNE COOKIE is a great read and a good addition to the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series. I will really miss the books which first got me interested in Cathy Cassidy as an author, but all good things have to come to an end! I think Jake Cook, the main character, is a confused boy who just needs something right in his life - or something good. I loved the book because it took a boy's perspective which was a change from the girls' stories. I have loved the way Cathy creates a problem that each character has to overcome, like Jake's secrecy and clumsiness, Cherry's lying, Honey's temper and Summer's eating issues. I love the way the characters manage to overcome these challenges! I have told many of my friends about the books, and lots of them are now reading the series too!

Charlotte says:
FORTUNE COOKIE is my favourite book of the whole series because it ties up the loose ends and gives us a hint of what the sisters will do next. I could not believe it when Ash turned up art the festival (oops, **spoiler** sorry!). The story has magic and you could see the spell that Tanglewood cast over Jake. I am sad that just as the sisters discover a new half sibling the series is ending, I think there should be more books... hint, hint! I am so entranced by the world of the series I don't want to leave it. Also I think Cathy should make the series into a TV show or a film! FORTUNE COOKIE gets five stars from me. I have read it three times already!

Daria says:
FORTUNE COOKIE was brilliant, I actually read it before the rest of the series and had to go back to CHERRY CRUSH and read the whole lot because it was a series I got hooked on! Then when I read FORTUNE COOKIE for the second time, I loved it even more. Jake is my favourite boy character ever, he is very real, I like how he is clumsy and makes mistakes and does not try to be some sort of hero. I wish he was real! My best friend has just read LOVE FROM LEXIE and told me that Jake is in that book too. I didn't know the two series were linked together. Guess what"s going on my Christmas list?

Cathy says:
Aww, I have a soft spot for FORTUNE COOKIE too! Do YOU have a fave CC book to recommend? Send me a review in a COMMENT BELOW and it could be used on the blog!

Sunday 18 November 2018


Reader Katie reviews awesome film FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD and now we're all itching to see it!

Katie says:
Firstly, here’s a PRO TIP for you! DO NOT whisper during the Warner Bros. logo!!! I heard you, people in back of me, who were whispering as if one of the most iconic moments of the film hadn’t already happened! The Warner Bros. logo was beautiful, I think. I was blinking away the tears while these people were whispering. If you were disturbed by me making inhuman noises for the whole film, you shouldn’t have disturbed the opening moment!

Right, I admit I did break a few cinema rules when I watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but IT ALL FELT SO REAL. The Wizarding World logo, which I had only seen on, maybe, like a little screen before, was RIGHT THERE. We were in the WIZARDING WORLD. Boy, is there a lot inside that world! This film is was super zoomy but super fun but also terrifying and breathtaking and exhilarating. It was the cinematic experience I knew it would be and I had been waiting two years for. It also helps if you’re a big Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts fan. Muggles may get confused, but Potterheads know it’s all magical! In order to #protectthesecrets, I’m going to mention a few of my favourite parts and a little bit about each.

Hogwarts: Uhh the FIRST TIME I have seen MY SCHOOL on the BIG SCREEN. I missed all the Harry Potter cinema releases, so Fantastic Beasts is a big deal. Also there is a surprising cameo from cough mumble mumble. Also JOSHUA SHEA adds more “awwww” to Newt’s character, which already has a lot of “phwoar,” which leads me to my next favourite part....

Bunty! Every author/magizoologist needs a willing assistant, and Bunty is willing to do A LOT for Newt, even giving him helpful suggestions like cough. Man, I’ve really got to get this tickle in my throat sorted! I’m a regular Call The Midwife watcher, and I loved seeing Victoria Yeats in this role, all the Newt fangirls like me would have applied for Bunty’s job. The job does have some perks, like cradling an arm full of....

BABY NIFFLERS! A cameo suited to their size makes the whole cinema burst with cuteness! I’m so glad I already have three! My Newt collection is also growing, which is good because he, as always, was also one of my favourites!

Newt: One of the BEST lines in the film of course goes to our Hufflepuff hero! He is every bit as gorgeous as in the first film, but sometimes he’s sad and angry too, and I think it’s important that we go deeper into  these characters for the second film. Speaking of character depth....

Queenie! She was amazing in the first film, but Alison Sudol was a stand-out actor in this one!

Credence! I am beginning to think that Ezra Miller is not of this Earth, not just because of his amazing FASHION SENSE! I grew to love Credence more after first watching Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I didn’t think we’d see much of Credence, just him looking dark and mysterious. Well, there was that, but also more!

Side note: There are a LOT of cat-like creatures in this film, so the inclusion of biiiig kitties made Crimes of Grindelwald even more enjoyable!

That’s all for now, but I have more over on my Instagram, @katiethequibblerreporter. Come geek out with me, and GO WATCH THIS FILM!

Cathy says:
Sounds amazing, Katie, can't wait to see it!! Have YOU seen it? What did YOU think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Saturday 17 November 2018


When Cathy met this crew of Young Librarians on a recent school visit, she decided to interview them on what was involved... read on to find out more!

How did you first become a librarian at your middle school? Did you have to interview for the job?
We didn't need to have an interview for the job, we simply filled out a form and we got offered the job.

What was involved in the job? What kind of work do you do and how often are you in the library?
We do lots of jobs - we mainly put books away in thei right place or we patrol. Patrolling means we go around the library are and check nobody is breaking the rules or having technical difficulties on the computers.

What is the best thing about being a young librarian? Or the worst?
The best things are the bribes (in sweets) but we all agree the worst thing is patrolling!!!!!

What kind of person might be suited to help out in the school library?
The person needs to be:
  • Interested in books
  • Helpful
  • Slightly mad (in a good way!)
  • Someone with imagination 
  • Someone who is willing to give up on one or more of their lunchtimes.
Are there any perks to the job?
The perks of the job are the rewards at the end of the term, the bribes, going on library trips, sweets and donuts.

I'm guessing you're all keen readers... how would you encourage others to use the library?
  • By reading your books and changing them as reading is not a punishment
  • Reading is fun... you can learn so much
  • I would get people to use the library to try and calm them down
  • If you want to get more books to take out
  • Take more quizzes
  • To help them get into a series of books
  • We do quizzes
Book Recommendations:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
David Walliams books
Cathy Cassidy books!
Jaqueline Wilson books
Love from Lexie
Harry Potter Books
Any animal books
Books by John Boyne
Samiy’s Silver Lining
Worlds Worst Children 3
Rick Riordan books – Kane Chronicles and Trials of Apollo
Each term, the Terrible Trio + One (that's us, Mya, Bea, Grace and Amelia!) are going to give you an update on what's happening at the library along with our favourite reads! See you soon!

Wow... I loved meeting Mya, Bea, Grace, Amelia and the other fab young librarians... and I LOVE their brilliant interview! Can't wait to see their termly updates and book recommendations! Do YOU love your school/ local library? COMMENT BELOW to give it a shout out!

Sunday 11 November 2018


Skye Tanberry reads the stars once more and tells you all to expect in the coming month!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
You are spiritual, emotional and have a good heart. This month, certain things may test these qualities but you must stay true. Meditation is a good way to sustain mental stability, keeping you soft and kind on the outside and as strong as a lion on this inside.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
You are in a playful mood this month, full of energy, love and vigour! You may find it hard to focus on your projects but if you can focus this energy into your creative pursuits, you will find great rewards!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
You are a very social being, always the life of the party! However, you may gain valuable insight by moving in new circles for a change. It is empowering to explore every part of yourself.

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
You have a lot on your mind, this month. Not all bad, not all good. Just thoughts. It is important to put your thoughts somewhere so you don’t bottle away dangerous emotions. Try talking to someone, or jotting things down in a diary. A clear head is a happy head.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
You may clash with a loved one this month and things they do may seem to annoy you more than usual. Try to think about what you say and how you say it before you hurt them. The real reason you are upset may not be their fault.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are gearing up for adventure. The traveller within you is getting restless. Why not arrange a trip away with a friend or loved one? To feel the wind in your hair is nourishing and priceless. Let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Things are looking romantic for you, a stranger will make themselves known in the coming weeks. However, stay focused on what you love and save romantic escapades for later. They will still be there.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
You are wise beyond your years, and always have a lesson for others. However, this may get you into trouble when advice isn’t always wanted. Try to take on board other people’s ideas and maybe you could learn something from them.

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
There is music everywhere, you just have to listen. How long was it since you went to the beach? Heard the ocean’s song? It may be the inspiration you needed to complete that project left undone!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You live much inside your own head, often missing out on important things such as socialising. Try going out of your comfort zone and get out and see the world. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to… rewards shall be great!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
You are naturally very organised and efficient, ever the envy of your friends. Keep this up, help others find stability. Someone may come to you with a difficult decision; you may be just the person to guide them onto the right path.

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
You have been working hard recently, trying to achieve your goals. Maybe it’s ok to splurge a little on yourself. Have a ‘me’ day and celebrate. Relax with a good book, a face-mask and a mug of hot chocolate. Maybe even sprinkle marshmallows!

Cathy says:
Wise words!! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU this month? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Friday 9 November 2018


Reader Jess shares her experience of creating her very own podcast, with interviews from the likes of Chris Riddell and of course, CC herself!

I’m Jess and I love reading books, so just before the summer holidays last year, when my friends and I were given a chance to be part of our school library’s new podcast and meet the most incredible authors, we grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Thanks to our outstandingly dedicated and passionate school librarian, Mr Maxwell, we were given a £500 grant to get some super fancy equipment to play around with. Now all we needed were the authors…

We were exhilarated to have the well-known illustrator and children’s writer Chris Riddell in for our very first podcast. Everything was so professional: we went to a proper recording studio with sound-proofing foam on the walls, a mixing desk longer the size of a dining table, two rooms next to each other with that window so we could see the interview, and record covers pasted everywhere. The interviewers were great, they didn’t seem nervous at all with the massive responsibility of doing our very first episode or intimidated by the padded microphone in front of them.

Fast forward a couple of months to September and the day of Cathy Cassidy’s visit, where it was my turn to run an interview! That morning, rather than hitting snooze on my alarm, I practically leaped out of bed, counting down the hours until recording time. Finally, she arrived. I still can’t believe that I was a few feet from my absolute favourite author, let alone having a full 30-minute conversation with her. Seeing her in front of me for real, the reality sank in that she really was there, waiting for me and the interview. By this time, the equipment had arrived, so we were able to set up all the mics in the library, which is much more relaxed than the studio. It went by so quickly, Cathy gave astounding advice and answers, everyone got so into it that we ran out of time. The whole experience was breathtaking.

After recording, post production is needed to clean everything up, so we had the school’s music production expert in to show us how to use the editing software. It’s a lot less complicated than you would think, piecing together all the different sections like a jigsaw. We also thought that music would add a nice touch to the introductions, so some of the team and I have been working on upbeat parts and chords, almost like Lost & Found band. The library’s book club were asked to create a logo; all of them are stunning. Before the podcast started, I didn’t realise how much work needs to be put in to get everything ready to go online for people to be able to listen to it. It has been extraordinary to meet so many inspiring authors - and you can read Cathy's Bookling’s Podcast through the link below! Enjoy!

Cathy says:
It was so much fun to meet Jess and her friends and take part in the podcast... I loved every minute! Have YOU ever interviewed someone? Or been on the radio or a podcast yourself? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 4 November 2018


Australian reader Jemma shares her experiences as a young singer/songwriter... along with her tips for other aspiring musicians! 

Jemma says:
I’m a thirteen year old singer songwriter from Australia. In this post I’m sharing some of my experiences of the song writing, recording, producing and promoting processes!
Right now, I’m producing my fourth music video, ‘Who Am I Today’. I wrote the song, I’m singing and playing piano for the recording and hiring other musicians play in it too. I’m also starring in the video.

How did I get started? I was obsessed with the Spice Girls as a kid and I decided I wanted to be a pop star at age five! As I’ve sung since I could talk, played piano since I was five, written music since I was ten and played guitar since I was eleven, wanting a career as a musician isn’t illogical. Last year I created a YouTube channel and uploaded my first music video, ‘Grandma’s Garden,’ on January 6th this year.

Since then I’ve made two more music videos, ‘Robin Redbreast’ and ‘Rise Up’. My videos are on YouTube. Check ‘Rise Up’ out at:

If you’re an aspiring musician too, here are seven tips I can give you:

Don’t be a musician when you’re older, be a musician now! ‘Making it’ as a musician is easy to dream about but harder to do; it’s better to start young and compete with older people than to start older and compete with young people!

Make time for your musical pursuits. I know it’s hard to do but if being a musician’s your dream, make it your reality! Have a spare hour where you watch television, play games, listen to other people’s music? Allocate half that hour to music practise, songwriting, or producing!

  1. If you’ve written a song, play it to family or friends and ask them these questions afterwards: Do you like this song? What’s it about? What did it make you think of? How’d it make you feel? If they like the song, know what it’s about and connect to it then it’s a good song. A few days later, ask them these questions: Do you remember what my song’s called or what it’s about? Do you remember any lyrics? Do you remember the tune? If they remember a lyric, a bit of the melody and its title or subject, it’s a great song.

  1. When recording music, have a short rest every couple of recordings – you’ll have to do many takes before you record ‘the one’ and you don’t want to get tired!

  1. When co- writing, co- producing, co- directing, etc., be open to your co-worker’s ideas, but make sure your ideas are heard too!

  1. There’s no such thing as the perfect song, recording or video! Accept your ideas as being flawed. In fact, love your ideas because they’re flawed!

  1. Be nice to people as they can help you! Make as many friends as possible, get as many contacts as you can – even if they can’t help in the creating of your music, they can help by watching your videos, playing your songs and sharing your music with other people! 

Cathy says:
Wow, that's great advice Jemma! Are YOU an aspiring musician or songwriter? If you have any advice or tips, COMMENT BELOW!

Wednesday 31 October 2018


We asked you to share your spooky experiences to get us in the mood for Halloween! Read on... if you dare!

Helen says:
My nan owned a shop that three sisters used to own -  two of the sisters died and haunted the shop. They would move things around and play tricks. When the third sister died, the haunting stopped -  my nan said they were just entertaining themselves until they were reunited with their sister. Also, when my great-granddad was in the war he and a few of his buddies were stuck in no man's land when a higher ranking officer found them and lead them to safety. The officer disappeared so the men asked  where they could find him - they were told that the officer had died three days earlier!

Michelle says:
We have ghosts living with us. Some of them are family, but most of them died centuries ago and are still here. We once had twenty living with us! Since then we've had a clearing performed twice. Family still visit and we sometimes get other ghosts moving in, so we just accept that they live with us and they're not as scary as people believe - most of the time they stay in rooms that aren't occupied and don't bother us.

Trish says:
I was out with a friend and popped to the loo, and as I was checking my hair in the mirror, I saw a young girl behind me in white peasant blouse with long, wavy red hair. She was holding her arms out and crying, saying she was sorry, she didn't mean it. When I turned around, she wasn't there. My friend later told me there was a girl who killed herself in the toilet stall after a fight with her best friend. They couldn't get the door open in time to save her so now there are no locks on the toilet stalls.

Kellie-Anne says:
I can hear and see ghosts at night. I once was in bed fast asleep, I heard my cup banging on my desk near my bed. No one was there...

Claire says:
I visited a so-called ‘haunted’ medieval hunting lodge near where I live, because I was doing writing research incognito. It was resolutely unspooky and I was about to give it up as a bad job when I was shown into the final room. As soon as I stepped in, I began to buzz all over and - for no reason at all - welled up with tears. The guide took one shrewd look at me and said ‘you work with children don’t you? This is the children’s room. Don’t worry, they just want you to know they’re here. They like you.’ I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Nina says:
When I was at uni one of the girls in our house-share went to the loo, came back and said, 'I'm sorry for swearing, I didn't know someone's grandparents were here.' We all looked around puzzled - she'd bumped into an old couple in the hall who weren't really there! Oh, and when we moved into our house, we saw things constantly move around, the TV switched itself on, things flew off shelves. A friend who is a retired minister suggested we had the house blessed. I thought it was a bit extreme but did ask our local vicar who said house blessings are extremely common. I don't think our visitors have gone, they just aren't as objectionable as they used to be!

Cathy says:
Oooh, scary stuff!! Have YOU ever seen any ghosts or had a spooky experience? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Tuesday 30 October 2018


Our guide on how to host the spookiest, scariest sleepover for you and your friends!!

Dress up and give each other terrifying make-overs... why not try out some gory special effects make-up, a splash of fake blood and some fangs? There are lots of tips for costume and make-up in CC book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS.

While you are transforming yourselves into ghosts and ghouls and zombies, why not tell each other your fave ghost stories! Grab a torch, turn out the lights and spook 'em out!


PSYCHO - This psychological thriller will really spook you out, Hitchcock's brilliant cult classic is a MUST! Just be careful next time you're having a shower... I will say no more...

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS - One of Tim Burton's finest films, full of skeletal twists and turns and magnificent stop-motion graphics. A genuinely wholesome watch!

- You may laugh but these graphics were state of the art back in its day!! This may be a light-hearted choice, one that seems scary but will have you giggling!

THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Another cult classic, this well-loved film will make you giggle and scream!

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE - A new film, based on an old book, this one is available on Netflix! All the terror without the gore, it plays subtle mind tricks on you until you can't bear it anymore ... just don't bother trying to sleep!

4) GAMES! 
Wink-wink-murder is a CLASSIC! You all sit in a circle and the designated 'murderer' will subtly wink at other players, rendering them dead (that's their cue to dramatically fall to their death or elaborately collapse.) The aim of the game is for the murderer to kill as many people without being caught!!

Bobbing for apples is another favourite.. it's very simple and fun! Simply fill a few bowls with water and float several apples in them... the winner is the person who manages to get all of the apples out of their bowl using only their mouths!

Murder in the dark. Choose your killer, turn out the lights and then start roaming around... if the murderer comes across you in the dark, they will tap you on the shoulder thus killing you (again, your cue to scream and dramatically die on the floor!) If you come across someone who has been killed you should scream "MURDER IN THE DARK!"

What would Halloween be without a good old pumpkin carving competition?? Please ask an adult to supervise before you go using knives and everything but this is a great time to show off your creative skills!! The best carving could get a special, spooky prize!

Cathy says:
Eek!! Hope your Halloween is extra brilliant! What are YOUR Halloween tips and traditions? COMMENT BELOW to reveal all!

Saturday 27 October 2018


Reader Sophie shares her wonderful words about iconic American songstress and political activist Aretha Franklin.

We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.

Queen of soul. Diva of divas. Musical goddess. The late, great Aretha Franklin was a true inspiration. But not only was she a legendary singer, she was also a civil rights and women’s rights activist.

She was born on 25th March, 1942. Her father Rev. C.L. Franklin, preached black-liberation theology at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit and was a close friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights heroes. From the word go, Aretha was flung into the centre of the most important political fight of mid- 20th century America.  She was raised in the movement and would go on to help score it. As a teenager, Aretha toured with Martin Luther King helping to raise money alongside actors such as Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.

It was a force within her, a fight she couldn’t let go. It stayed with her throughout her career, she even made measures to make her stance even more clear such as a contract clause stating she would not under any circumstance play to a segregated audience. Respect, Aretha.

She started out singing gospel music at her father’s church as a child, an influence which never left her. She fused the old gospel and African American spiritual traditions with the blues, pop and R&B style of the 60s to create the template used by so many singers today. In 1967, Aretha released arguably her most well known song, a cover of Otis Redding’s Respect. This became one of the defining anthems for the civil rights movement, and was also embraced as a women’s rights anthem, with its unflinching demand: ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’. The universal power of this song is one that harnesses the awe of listeners still today.

She was a diva, sure, but she was a proud, black woman in an era which refused to respect her. And she came out and demanded it, not just for her but for millions. She understood how important it is to speak for the unheard. Relentless in her approach to social justice. She was one of a kind but let her inspire you. The world needs more Aretha Franklins.

I so agree... what a woman! She is a great loss to the world, but her songs will endure. Do YOU have a female hero? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more - or email me to write your own 'My Hero' piece for DREAMCATCHER!

Wednesday 24 October 2018


Reader JEMMA shares her struggle to be understood by her parents. Read on to see if SUMMER TANBERRY can find a solution...


Major problem… my parents don’t understand me or if they do they seemingly don’t care! They want me to study medicine at uni and are making me take science subjects at GCSE when all I want to do is be myself. I’d love to take art, as it’s one of my favourite subjects but I can’t if I have to take all three sciences. I cannot imagine myself as a doctor at all, but my parents seem set on it. Help!

Speaking as someone who has pushed herself to the brink in search of perfection, I know only too well the risks. At least I chose to push myself, though - for you, someone else is making decisions about your life and setting you on a high-pressured path that may not be the right one for you. Studying medicine is a very long and tough path to take, and I'd say you have to be 100% sure that it's right for you. You need to be honest with your family and your teachers about what you want. I'm sure your parents are giving you what they think is the best advice, but as you have said yourself, they're not putting YOU into the equation at all!

Talking to a guidance tutor or even your art teacher may help to clarify things, and also give you an ally in school - someone who will back you up. Sometimes, timetable tweaks can be made to enable students to take a subject they love - this may be possible for you, if the school is aware of your dilemma. I studied art at GCSE and while it's by no means an 'easy' subject - it's not - it was a welcome contrast to the science, maths and language subjects I studied. For some of us, having a creative outlet is not just 'nice' but absolutely essential, and I think it may be this way for you. Time for some serious talking about the future... good luck and let me know how it goes!

I really feel for Jemma, but Summer's right - she has to be honest about how she feels before her future takes a turn that she may regret. Do YOU have any advice to add to Summer's words? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


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