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!

Sunday 21 October 2018


We asked you to tell us about your very best friend(s)... and we loved hearing about the different friendship styles you had to share!

Julia says:
Sana and I first met in Year Three in school. We were in the school choir but I tripped and fell over, so Sana went on the floor and lay down with me to cheer me up so I didn't feel so bad. She wasn’t in my class during Year Three so I didn’t really know her much but as the end of the year came up, we got mixed up for Year Four and she happened to be chosen to go to my class - that is how our friendship started. We then went to Spain together with the class and we shared a room! We had our ups and downs then but we really enjoyed it! When we moved to Year Five, we were so happy because we were on the same table! We were a bit too chatty since we were such good friends and our teacher had to move our seats but it was OK because we were still able to meet up and plan pranks on other people (they were nice pranks not mean ones!) and play together. We are now in Year Six and still happy together as friends after three years of friendship!

Lana says:
I have two best friends, Wictoria and Ruby. I met Wictoria in Year Five and Ruby in Year Seven, and now in Year Nine we are still best friends. They say three is a difficult number for a friendship but we are not jealous and allow each other the freedom to have other friends, and we trust each other. We always get together out of school, just the three of us, whenever we can. I think we know that we have a strong, special friendship and we'd stick up for each other against all the odds. I hope these two will always be my friends, I can't imagine being without them.

Sophie says:
I had a best friend in primary school but we have drifted a bit in secondary, and I don't feel as though I have a 'best friend' now. You might think that's sad but I don't mind, I have friends in most of my classes and there is always someone to sit with or talk to. I value these friendships but I hope that one day I will have a best friend again, someone who understands you better than you do yourself, but until then I am happy with a big group of mates.

Lauren says:
I am part of a group of four friends at school, and they are brilliant, but my best friend is actually  my sister Jayde, who is a year older than me. We do fall out sometimes and get on each others nerves but but most of the time we are really close and always have been. I know my sister will always be there for me no matter what and that she is one friend I will have forever. We have been through so much together and we know each other so well, it goes beyond any other friendship.

Cathy says:
Aww... such cool stories! Do YOU have a best friend who means the world to you? COMMENT BELOW to give them a shout-out!

Friday 19 October 2018


More lovely readers share their reviews of SAMI'S SILVER LINING... aww! 

Deborah says:
There's something about CC books - they are just effortlessly amazing. Not only is this story an eye opener to the hardships that refugees face, emotionally as well as physically, but it also is a reminder that the little things in the world add up to true beauties. Sami shines in this story, from his culture to his influence on the band and I see him in an entirely new perspective in this series now. Anyone and everyone must read this book. That's an order!

Rachel says:
I just finished reading SAMI'S SILVER LINING - it was the best!! It was so heart-warming and although it made me aware of some of the horrible things going on in the world I am so glad this book is out there spreading awareness. I was at the Edinburgh book festival and found Cathy's talk very informative as I myself love writing and CC books are my inspiration. I once met CC at Newarthill library in 2017! I would give this book - well, all CC books - 5 stars or 10/10!

Hannah says:
I think that Sami's journey from war conflicted Syria to the safety in the UK is very emotional. When he arrives, he has a new home, new friends, relatives that support him... and a band that he joins in with. When I read this book, I couldn't help but think about the refugee crisis and I'm grateful that this book helps to raise funds for the refugee charities that help them. I am planning to do something to help them too, maybe  a sponsored event for Save The Children.

Beatrice says:
Recently, I have read SAMI'S SILVER LINING and have loved every second of it. I was so captivated by it. I admired how Sami was the main character of it and how the book might change the way people think about refugees. I am hoping to enter the photo competition soon and I have been telling my best friend about CC books, so she is going to start reading them. I have also read LOVE FROM LEXIE and BROKEN HEART CLUB.

Orla says:
I have just read the book SAMI'S SILVER LINING and I loved it. I found the last few pages heartwarming (I won't say what happens, because **spoilers** but it's amazing!). The first few pages were really sad as you start to understand what Sami has been through, but I LOVED this book and I can't wait to read LOVE FROM LEXIE. (It's the first one in the series, so I'm reading them the wrong way round, but it doesn't matter, I am just SO glad I have found this series!)

Cathy says:
It means so much that readers have given such wonderful reviews for SAMI... little things like this help a writer to keep going! Do YOU have a fave CC book? Tell me in a COMMENT BELOW and send in a review and a pic... it might just appear on DREAMCATCHER!

Tuesday 9 October 2018


A very tricky problem from reader NOLA... let's see what COCO TANBERRY has to say!

So I think my dad is having an affair. He spends so much time on his phone and the worst part is, my mum has a chronic illness called ME so doesn’t have the energy to notice a lot of the time. How else could you explain why he’s on his phone all the time? He evades my questions about it and says it’s none of my business. Sometimes I hate my life.

I understand why you are worried - I remember when my own dad was having an affair - or several affairs, I suppose, over the years - and it was horrible. There were lots of arguments and stony silences and he was away a lot, and when my parents eventually broke up it was actually almost a relief, although I suppose I'm not supposed to say that. The point is, I DO remember how stressful the not knowing part was. So yes, the mysterious phone calls may be a sign that something bad is going on - or perhaps just a sign that your dad is stressed and worried and out of his depth and needs someone to talk to? When someone in the family has a chronic illness, things can become difficult and stressful. I say that because I saw how my family struggled when I was ill. Plus, we are all reliant on our phones more than ever now - perhaps your dad is using his phone to juggle work or research ME or chat to other people with a partner going through the same illness?

OK, so how do you find out what's happening? Talk to him again and let him see that you need answers... that unless you know the truth, you will jump to the very worst conclusions. Hopefully, if he sees how scared you are, he will be honest and reassuring, and no matter what the truth is, it's better to know than to imagine the worst. If your dad still won't talk to you, speak to your mum - she may be ill, but I guarantee she still cares very much about you and will find the time to talk and set your mind at rest. If neither option seems possible, talk to a trusted relative who can get to the bottom of this for you.

I know that life seems very bleak for you right now, and I think you probably need some extra support at school - talk to a trusted teacher or school counsellor so that you have a safe place to unload all these worries. Bottling up the fears and anxieties is never a solution - trust me, I know. I hope you get some answers - and good luck.

Summer's advice is good - what Nola needs is to talk honestly to her parents and find out what's really happening. Do YOU have any extra advice for her? COMMENT BELOW to add your thoughts!

Sunday 7 October 2018


With her head in the stars, Skye Tanberry predicts the shape of things to come this October! 

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
You’re often prone to making promises you can’t keep… you are easily distracted and often let your imagination run away with you. While imagination is important, so is setting yourself realistic goals. Think small, and build on it slowly.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
There is a surprise waiting around the corner so try to approach new things in your life with an open mind. Accepting change is a fine way to free your mind from stress and anxiety. Something you may not usually have been open to before now will change your life for the better.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
The weather is getting colder and curling up inside with a hot chocolate has never been more inviting, but don’t forget the beauty of an autumn walk, feet crunching on fallen, orange leaves. Staying indoors can leave you feeling stagnant, whereas getting out and about can freshen your creativity.

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
Don't forget how valuable time with yourself can be. There's lots going on in your life right now and lots of people are trying to guide you but don’t forget to tap into your own needs. Only you know what’s best for you.

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
You seem very caught up in what others think of you this month. For some reason you have been in the spot light recently. It’s ok to socially hibernate for a while. If a plan isn't working, letting go of it may be just the kind of freedom you need.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
You’ve always been a harbourer of other peoples secrets, and people trust you but you can’t seem to open up in return. You keep things bottled up and it takes its toll. Even if you can open up to one other person, it will be a huge weight off your shoulders.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are getting a lot of attention this month from admirers and enemies alike. Be flattered by your admirers, they are harmless. Your enemies may be stirring up some negative emotions in you but try to remain strong and calm. You are bigger than them.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
You have been a bit all over the place recently, emotions flying up and down, a whirlwind of action and not much time to process. Use this month to bring it all back home and channel your energy into the present moment. This will help improve your mood.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
After a hectic few months, things are finally starting to settle back into their original routine. This will clear your head a little and allow you to strategically think out your next move. Next step: world domination!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
You are feeling more passionate and emotional this month, a festive atmosphere will bring you closer to your loved ones in an intimate and lighthearted way. Take this time to be there for the ones you love, the rewards for this are endless.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You may unintentionally be the cause of an argument among those around you, putting you in a very tricky position. Tread carefully and consider everyone’s feelings before you make any rash decisions.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
You are naturally quite shy around new people, but this month may bring quite a lot of new faces. First impressions count for a lot, so try to approach people with confidence and a dazzling smile. You’ll be the belle of the ball and the envy of all.

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

Monday 1 October 2018


We're back with a list of ten cool things to do in October... how many will you be able to tick off YOUR list?

1: Look for fallen leaves and make a list of all the different colours you see! And don't forget that if you catch one, you get to make a wish!

2: Pick some wild blackberries and make a pie or crumble... or just eat them fresh with cream! Will you eat more than you gather?

3: Get together with a friend and try out some cool Hallowe'en facepaint ideas! Check out CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS for lots of good ideas and inspirations, plus some cool costume ideas!

4: Pick some autumn branches with berries, hips and red-gold foliage! A surprise bouquet for your mum, maybe?

5: Go old-school and have a game of conkers with a little brother or sister!

6: Make toffee apples... and then eat toffee apples... yum!

7: Get in the mood for Hallowe'en with a horror movie sleepover.... WAAAAH!!!!!

8: Carve a pumpkin... but try something different from the usual Jack o' Lantern design. See how creative and imaginative you can be!

9: Exchange ghost stories with your friends... or get creative and write a fictional one!

10: Re-read MARSHMALLOW SKYE and re-live Hallowe'en - Tanglewood style!

Cathy says:
I think I'll be trying some of these... especially the blackberries and toffee apple ideas! What will YOU be up to this October? 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...