Wednesday, 24 April 2019


Reader Ruadhan shares her tips on making sure you are ready for whatever the exam season has to throw at you!

Ruadhan says:
Exam time can be really stressful, especially the studying bit! There are ways to deal with that exam stress so that you can feel a lot more confident and relaxed when the time comes… here are my top tips!

- Always drink plenty of water. Believe it of not, it can really help you focus as it refreshes your brain!

- Try listening to classical music. Some people like to study in silence, but for others, music helps them to concentrate. If this is the case for you, try listening to classical rather than pop or rock as it is less distracting and can have a calming effect!

- Revise in sections. It's never a good idea to jump in and try to cram as much information as you can into your head. It will eventually just become a tangle. Sometimes it is helpful to use notecards rather than reading it straight from a book. Notecards are very handy!

-Give yourself plenty of time. If you have to study during the holidays, your first thought might be, 'I'll do it the week before we go back.' DON'T think this! What will happen is that you'll keep putting it off until you only have a couple of days left. You'll panic and end up not remembering much at all. It may sound simple, but study steadily all throughout the holidays and you will absorb so much more!

- Take a break! When you are under pressure, it can seem like any distraction will ruin your chances of getting a good grade. This isn't true. Studying without a break can harm your chances. Try to see studying like exercise - it is good for you, but do too much and you'll hurt yourself.

- If you are the kind of person who gets very wound up over exams, build in some relaxation. De-stress  when taking those breaks… dance, sing, do yoga… anything to take the weight off your shoulders and allow you to unwind a little. When those exams roll around, you'll be ready to tackle them in style!

Cathy says:
Great advice - my advice is to make a revision timetable, and copy out notes several times as you revise… this usually ensured the info stuck in my head! Do YOU have any revision tips to share? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 21 April 2019


Reader Lizzie writes of friendship, romance and chocolate in her fab short story with a clever, chocolatey twist at the end!

Lizzie says:
I hate chocolate.
It’s not just the taste, although that’s bad enough. It’s the texture as well. It’s a lose-lose situation – it’s either rock hard so that you practically break your teeth on it, and all you can do is chip off tiny shavings with your incisors – but it’s even worse if it’s soft. Just thinking of the way it dissolves when you chew it into a tacky, syrupy mush, brings bile to my throat.
So, OK, maybe I’m overdramatising. It’s not like I’m eating spiders, or maggots, or anything else that most normal people would consider disgusting. But for some reason, it’s almost worse, because chocolate seems to be everywhere these days and there’s no escaping it. Shops, stalls, birthday presents, Christmas presents …it’s enough to drive anyone crazy, right?
Which is why, when I opened the lid of my desk one damp Monday morning and found a box of rose-scented truffles lurking inside, I wasn’t so much flattered as disgusted.
I appreciated the thought, sure. Wouldn’t any girl be pleased to find she has a secret admirer? I just kind of wished whoever it was had found a slightly different way of expressing his feelings.
I had a problem. These were way too good just to chuck away, and I couldn’t see anyone else in my family wanting them. My dad’s the same as me regarding the whole chocolate phobia, and my sister Linnie is still on mushy green baby food, so the truffles seem to be doomed from the start.
I leaned over the aisle between the desks, whispering, “Hey! Hinnay! Over here!”
She closed the book she had been reading under the desk and glanced up without much interest. “Yeah?”
I leaned closer. “Do you want a box of chocolates? ‘Cause there’s one going free right here.”
Hinnay of all people understands my aversion to chocolate. She’s about the only person who doesn’t stare at me when I push away the end-of-term silver-wrapped Santa, and who doesn’t gape in amazement when I wrinkle my nose at the smell of cocoa. This is why she is my best friend. It’s refreshing being with someone who doesn’t treat you like a freak.
She looked at me now, raising her dark brows in a slant. “How come you’ve got a box of chocolates on you?” she questioned me.
I was unsure if I wanted to tell her about my secret admirer (assuming that’s who they were from) just yet. “Um, I just…do?”
The lame explanation seemed to satisfy her. “Okay, whatever,” she shrugged. “Where’s the ambrosia?”
I snorted at the “ambrosia” remark, reaching into my desk and drawing out the box. I was careful to keep it hidden. If the sender was someone in my class, I didn’t want him to be offended.
“Whoa,” Hinnay said, her brown eyes widening. “Who sent you these, Mel?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted.
She pushed them back across the desk at me. “I’m not taking these. Even if you’re not going to eat them, you can’t just give them away.”
“What am I supposed to do with them, then?” I protested.
Hinnay sighed. “Put them under your pillow and treasure them for eternity. Where’s your sense of romance?”
I frowned. “Under my pillow? They’d melt.”
“I’m not being literal. Oh, never mind.”
I groaned. “Hinnay, please say you’ll have them.”
She flushed. “Mel…if I’m honest…I don’t really like these praline ones. They’re too rich for me.”
So she hadn’t refused my offer out of concern for my love life, after all.
“Couldn’t you, I don’t know, try and force a couple down?”
“No,” she said flatly. “Last time my aunt sent me some, I threw up.”
That was a no, then.
“Wait!” Suddenly, she was diving into my desk. “There’s a note! Look!”
“Gimme that!” I snatched it, scanning the closely printed, curling writing.
Meet me behind the science garden at four.
I looked at Hinnay and she stared back, wide-eyed.
“Whoa,” we said in unison.
I glanced up and my mouth fell open.
James Taylor, the most attractive boy in the year was staring down at me. I was so shocked I thought I might suffocate. Admittedly, I knew him better than most of the other boys, but somehow I’d always thought we were more friends than…than…
“Um…hi?” I heard a voice squeak out. How ashamed I was that it was mine.
“Listen…Mel.” His voice was uncharacteristically nervous.  Believe it or not, I was pretty nervous too.
“I know you probably have no idea what’s going on…”
 “But I just wanted to say…”
 “That I like you…”
 “I mean, I really like you…”
 “And I sent you those chocolates…”
That was when I blurted out possibly the stupidest thing I have ever, ever, ever said in my whole life. Like, ever.
“I don’t – like chocolate.”
Well, that was quick for a first relationship.
He blinked at me, puzzled. “What?”
I had no choice but to mumble it again. “I don’t like chocolate.”
He sounded so disappointed I thought I might cry.
“I’m sorry, Mel. I just…I kind of sent them because I like chocolate, and I thought you would too…I’m sorry, I really am. You don’t have to eat them.”
“No, I’m sorry,” I said frantically. “I didn’t mean I don’t like them, I mean, I really like you, but…”
We both froze as I realised what I’d just said.
“You – like me too?” he asked curiously.
I nodded, unable to meet his eyes.
There was a long silence. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I glanced up, maybe to apologise, but the next thing I knew, his mouth was on mine.
After what could have been a minute, or perhaps several sunlit years, we broke apart. I stared at him.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
He was apologising for kissing me?
“Don’t be sorry,” I whispered.
Smiling, he kissed me again. I closed my eyes.
His lips tasted of chocolate...

Cathy says:
Beautifully written, what a read! What did YOU think? Do YOU have a chocolate themed romance you'd like to share? COMMENT BELOW...

Friday, 19 April 2019


It's not just children that love CC books, you know! Here are some fab reviews by adults!

After being inspired by @cathycassidyxx  at Liverpool Reading Rocks, I bought SAMI'S SILVER LINING from the bookshop and once I started, I couldn't put it down! I had goosebumps reading Sami's story and I can't wait to share it with my class on Monday...

Well I did it, I read a ‘children’s book’ recommended by my daughter... it was SAMI'S SILVER LINING... and I loved it. Relaxing to read (an important  criteria for me after work), beautifully written, informative and educational about a current affairs issue... and it made me cry. I suppose I should listen to Katie’s recommendations more often. (Don’t tell her I said that...)

I loved SAMI'S SILVER LINING. It is beautiful and quirky and humane and I finished reading it on Saturday and gave it to a friend's daughter, who has been visiting with her family and is also beautiful and quirky and humane. She plays the flute like Sami and spoke of the refugee children who are now at her school in Berlin. Thank you, CC, for writing with such kindness and empathy. The world needs more of this!

I read SAMI'S SILVER LINING because my daughter wouldn't stop talking about it and I wanted to understand why it had made such an impression. This may be a children's book but boy did it grip me. It's a long time since I've read something so thought-provoking, eye-opening and powerful, and as a family we've had several big discussions triggered by the story. I've passed the book on to a friend (although my daughter wants it back as soon as she's read it...) and also bought a copy for my daughter's school. My daughter and I are both now huge CC fans.

Fifteen year old Sami is trying to come to terms with his new life in England living with his aunt and uncle. He has escaped from war-torn Syria, lived for a while in the cramped conditions of a refugee camp and then made a perilous journey in an overcrowded  boat across the icy waters of the Aegean Sea to Kos. The boat capsized and he was hauled out of the sea with no sign of his father, mother or little sister. After more hardship, he arrives in the UK with virtually nothing but his flute and the battered old, silver lined coat that used to belong to his dad. I strongly recommend this well told multi-layered story which is all about friendship and camaraderie. Without spoiling the plot, I need to reassure you that there is a very positive ending and eventually Sami is ready to take off the coat and to give it a new life. Cassidy is keenly aware of the political power of fiction to help readers understand and want to ask questions about real world concerns. In the afterword, she explains that Sami’s story is based on the reality faced by thousands of child refugees who are trying to find sanctuary in the UK. As such, this is an important campaigning novel with a clear message for readers. 

Cathy  Cassidy has always written books with characters we care about. THE CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series set a high benchmark for weaving a series of  individual, yet interconnected tales, but if the first two books in her  new series, the LOST & FOUND are anything to go by, this new series will  be even better. SAMI'S SILVER LINING focuses on Sami, a Syrian refugee. It  gives us the story of his present day adventures with the band, but this  is interspersed with extracts from his notebook, telling the moving and  powerful story of his journey from Syria to Britain. This is where the  book moves from being a superbly written and thoroughly enjoyable tale, to being a highly affecting and important book which needs to be read and read widely. Sami's tale is one of hope through the direst adversity but reminds us that for every Sami, there are thousands of other  displaced people who are not as fortunate. This wonderful book should be read, loved and taught in every school and is the work of an author at the peak of her powers. Just read it.

It means a lot that adults are connecting to SAMI'S SILVER LINING just as strongly as kids are... wow! Have YOU read it yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 13 April 2019


My name is Kathryn Evans and the lovely Cathy has let me hijack DREAMCATCHER for the day - I thought I'd tell you about my new book and set a cool COMPETITION for you! 

The comp is easy - just tell me what YOU'D put into a time capsule!

In my new book, BEAUTY SLEEP, sixteen year old Laura is put into cryostasis in 1986.  She has to pack a few things that will be there for her in the future when she’s woken up. Laura’s box is very similar to the things I’d have packed when I was her age! (Yes, OK, that's me on the right when I was a teen...)
So... into my time capsule I'd pack...

I was obsessed with scrap books when I was a teenager. I stuck in pictures of all the bands I loved, from magazines like Smash Hits. I was absolutely in love with John Taylor from Duran Duran so there were loads of pics of him. I’ve still got this picture ! If I was a teenager now though, my scrapbook would definitely be full of all the things I got up to with my friends - we just didn’t have that many photographs back then. 

Tape of fave tunes 
I can’t live without music. I love festivals and always have the radio on. In 1986 there was no Spotify, so we mixed our own tapes and gave them as gifts. Laura puts a tape she’d recorded with her best friend Stacey into the time capsule.

Picture of my family
I grew up in a family of seven - four kids, Mum, Dad and Nana. As annoying as brothers and sisters can be, I wouldn’t be without them. I’d show you a picture but they’d kill me... 

I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not childish to love your teddy. Your teddy sees you through the best and the worst of times. Your teddy is your confident and pal and never criticises or judges. I’d take my teddy over some people anyway of the week. Here he is, this is Scruffy - you may recognise the description of Laura’s teddy from this actual real life , moth eaten old bear. I love him and I don’t care who knows it.

Favourite clothes 
I had to save money from my paper round to buy any decent clothes so every item was precious - a pair of blue skin tight jeans with white piping down the side were my prized possession. Once I bought a studded belt, I’d wanted one FOREVER. My dad marched me back to the shop and made me give it back - he said he didn’t want a punk rocker for a daughter! I gave Laura a couple things that I would have loved to own but didn’t have the money for - a blue Bennetton jumper and a Choose Life t-shirt. She should have had a ra-ra skirt too. I did eventually save up enough to buy a grey one of those - just as they went out of fashion.

If you were going to sleep for forty years, what would YOU pack to take with you? The list I love best will win a Choose Life T-shirt – just like Laura’s - and a copy of my brand new book BEAUTY SLEEP!  

Cathy says:
Kathryn's book BEAUTY SLEEP is hands down the best book I've read this year - it's gripping, thought-provoking and chilling by turn... I seriously could not put it down! If you like YA books with a dystopian twist you'll love it! To enter the comp, either COMMENT BELOW or email me with the list of what YOUR time capsule would include HERE. What are you waiting for?!!!

Friday, 12 April 2019


The TERRIBLE TRIO + ONE are back with their round up of springtime news from their fab school library... take a look!

Easter is upon us, and we are feeling happy in the library. This links to our new display: 'How are you feeling today?' Our school does its best to promote wellbeing and we know that reading is a good way to relax and calm down as well as reading for pleasure.

Our Easter bunnies (student librarians) have been putting away all our books and patrolling in the library. Our newly extended library bunny family (the newest recruits) have settled in and seem like they have been here for years. World Book Day wasn't too long ago, and we have the new selection of World Book Day books in the library. As a school we all enjoy World Book Day and this year we all walked into town and purchased our books with the school tokens. What book will you choose?

Westacre have recently had a visit from the book fair, which was as popular as ever, with pupils buying a variety of books for themselves and others, as well as a significant amount of stationery! We made a grand total of £110! That money will go towards more books for the library, for everyone to enjoy. 

As Easter is approaching we are all on the lookout for good books to read over the holidays.
Here are our top Easter reads to share with little brothers and sisters...
The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert;
Llama Llama Easter Egg by Ann Dewdney
The Easter Bunny’s Assistant by Jan Thomas
Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood
Pete the Cat - Big Easter Adventure by Kimberly & James Dean
Emma the Easter Fairy by Daisy Meadows

Over the last couple of months, we have started a book club where we all read the same book – along with other local schools - and then meet up and discuss the book together. In March, we visited one of the schools and discussed our current book at the time - Pax by Sara Pennypacker. Pax is about a young boy and his pet fox Pax - however war breaks out and he is forced to leave his fox forever in order to live with his grandfather many miles away. The two then begin the quest to find one another. I thought the book was a little bit predictable but many people thought it was a good read!  
Our next read is Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes. This book is a compelling story about a boy who gets shot by a policeman who mistakes his toy gun for a real one... check it out!  
In February, we went to go see Candy Gourlay. She was at the Kings’ School, Worcester and she did an author talk. We all bought her book Bone Talk and got our books signed. We also got a signed book for the library! We stayed until the end of the meeting and were able to get a picture with Candy!
We have loved our new experiences recently and we are looking forward to those ahead... see you soon for more library news!
The Terrible Trio + One!

Cathy says:
Love this library round-up by the cool student librarians at Westacre! Have YOU ever thought of getting involved in your school library? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019


Reader Hannah describes a meeting with Cathy Cassidy - and finding new books to fall in love with!

Hannah says:
I met Cathy Cassidy on her trip to Trim Library in October last year, when my school went along to the library as part of Children's Books Ireland Festival. I recently bought the book LOOKING GLASS GIRL and I must say I'm in love. The dark theme is one I love reading! I'm twelve years old, so it's all very relatable for me... well, except the coma part of course!

Cathy Cassidy's books seem very down to earth and real, and I can tell with no doubt in my mind they are extremely accurate to how girls my age behave and think. It feels like looking in a mirror.
I plan to purchase or borrow CC's newest book, SAMI'S SILVER LINING. Not only because the book will undoubtedly be fantastic, but because the topic is one that is very close to my heart.
I am of Syrian heritage, so when Cathy talked about her inspiration for the book, I was greatly moved.

I am very into art. I like singing, writing poems, drawing and writing stories especially. Although my stories are more fantasy based than CC's would typically be, I noticed while reading her books they reminded me of something I'd maybe write myself. CC books are a big inspiration to me now and I really like their style - it is 100% my cup of tea. I am very happy I finally found an author whose books I can relate to!

Pic posed by model

Cathy says:
Aww... what a lovely blog! Thank you so much Hannah - I think we all love discovering a new author whose work we love! Have YOU ever been to a CC book event? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 1 April 2019


Holly says:
Epilepsy awareness is hugely important to me; I was diagnosed with absence seizures at the age of twelve. Because not many people know what absence seizures are, it makes it all the more difficult to explain to friends - and it can frighten them. I want people to know there’s more than one type of epilepsy, there’s more than twenty, even. My seizures were where I would lose consciousness for five to ten seconds, but I’d stay standing up, just staring into space. A lot of my friends didn’t even notice! Unless I’m having a cluster of lots at once, they can be quite difficult to spot. For me, it just feels like I’ve fast forwarded a bit on a TV show and am trying to work out what happened. 

When people don’t always understand all types of epilepsy, it can feel quite isolating, and having to explain all the time, although I was happy to do it, sometimes made me feel a bit frustrated. No one understood. 

Purple Day is a national day to raise awareness of epilepsy. Everything goes purple on the 26th of March, to get the message out there of what epilepsy is. It’s also a great way to raise funds for epilepsy charities such as Epilepsy Action, who sent me an information pack explaining my diagnosis when I was twelve. I was controlled for a number of years on one medication, but I had to start taking other meds for mental health problems and they interacted and I’ve struggled to gain control ever since. Today I’ve been absence seizure free for six months! 

This year, I decided to dye my hair for Purple Day - to raise awareness,  as well as a bit of money! I set a target of raising £50, but with some wonderful support from friends and family, they sponsored me for over £500! I now have bright purple hair and my friends from college also all dressed up on the day in purple, and raised a further £30, they’re amazing! They were so supportive, I think because they’ve seen the effect that changing my epilepsy meds has had on me over the last six months. I may have been seizure free, but the withdrawal symptoms and side effects have caused real problems. So it meant a lot when they all supported me by dressing up! 

One in every hundred people has epilepsy, so chances are you will know someone who does. Read up on it and see what you can do to support them - that bit of knowledge will mean the world!

Cathy says:
This is a subject close to my heart, as my daughter had the same diagnosis as Hollie when she was a young teen, and took time to come to terms with it. I love Hollie's can-do attitude - and her awesome purple hair! Have YOU ever raised money to help a cause you really believe in? COMMENT BELOW to have your say! 

Saturday, 30 March 2019


We asked you to tell us why your mum is awesome... and readers of all ages told us! Happy Mother's Day!

Hollie says:
My mum is wonderful. We’ve been through hard times but never once has she given up on me, even when I’ve given up on myself! I know that no matter what she will always be by my side and wanting the best for me, always acting in my best interests. She is the rainbow in my rainy days, and when she gets upset I know it’s for me not with me. She will never know how special she is, and she will never understand how much sunshine she brings into everyone’s lives!

Sara says:
My mum is cool because she is calm, wise, clever, witty, gentle, caring, charming, an excellent thoughtful hostess, occasionally caustic, very beautiful, a firebreather, a great cook, a creative maker, resilient, independent, and taught me all I need to know about just bloody getting on with life regardless what is thrown at you. She is our queen! Noble, proud and strong!

Lucy says:
This is for my Gran... she always shouted the loudest at Sports Day!

Brunehilde says:
Because she is always here for me!

Luna says:
I love my mum because she is always there for me. I can talk to her about anything. She is very silly and makes me laugh, and she also gives the best cuddles and she makes really weird cakes! I'd be lost without her.

Rachel says:
She whispered bedtime story words to me of her own childhood - when giant folk and dragons circling misty mountain tops were real for her. She filled my head with magic, she ignited my imagination, and, which I think I was unbelievably lucky to know, she let me adventure untethered by adult interruption in the most glorious of Huckleberry Finn 1970's ways. My mum, the original Princess Bride.

Helen says:
My mam taught me to bake from the age of three and I still love it... that's what I always think of when I'm at her house!

Trish says:
My Mum was my rock, my best friend and cheerleader. She made the best cup of tea and gave the best hugs!

Katie says:
My mum is awesome because she is helping me get through university! Every day I send her a good morning message, a goodnight message, a pic of my outfit and about fifty billion other messages. I’m probably breaking Messenger records. Mum is helping me not only become independent, but feel independent too. She is the best present giver, and the best at everything really. I’ve come to appreciate her wisdom and her presence in my life more since moving away from home. I wouldn’t be where I am without her. And Mum is also awesome because I know she’ll pick up SASHA'S SECRET for me when she’s in the UK!

Cathy says:
Aww... lots of love to all the momma's out there! You're amazing - it's official! Have YOU celebrated Mother's Day today? What did you do? COMMENT BELOW to tell us!

Sunday, 24 March 2019


On Saturday 23rd March 2019, an estimated one million people marched through London to demand a second vote on Brexit - reader Nell was there and tells us why it mattered so much to her!
Nell says:
Yesterday, I made history. I was one of the million or so people who attended the ‘Put it to the People’ demonstration in London on the 23rd March 2019.
I decided to go on this march because, even though I am only thirteen, my voice needs to be heard: it will be mine and other young people’s future and we deserve a say in it! Just because I cannot yet vote, it doesn’t mean my opinion is invalid or pointless. Young people can still make an impact on modern politics.
The demonstration seemed quite daunting at first, as there was a lot of people, a lot of noise and everything was very busy. I felt nervous because I knew it would be crowded, but at the same time I was excited and that excitement grew due to the already friendly atmosphere on the journey to the start of the march. While we were still on the tube train there was a woman with blue and yellow jewels (blue and yellow are the colours of the European Union flag) on her forehead and glitter on her face. The woman said hello to me and had a chat with me and my mum. Behind her was a man looking at the glitter and jewels and he asked if she had any leftover? She then proceeded to put glitter on him and, and as we all left the train, she was still adding the finishing touches on the train platform!
We met up with a lot of my mum’s friends and then joined the march at Park Lane, in London. Even at midday it was already busy and I could see thousands of people both behind and in front of us. After a few hours we finally got moving (we later found out that the delay was due to the sheer number of people turning up). We marched for a couple more hours and had great fun chatting to those around us and singing and chanting. For me, the best part of the day was definitely all the placards and signs: they made us laugh and kept us going.  
By the time we reached the end of the march, we were absolutely exhausted, but bumped into a carnival drumming band and they lifted everyone’s spirits and gave us the energy to get to the finish line!
At 5pm we finally reached Trafalgar Square and headed for home. At the end of the day, how did I feel? Well, firstly I felt proud of myself for standing up for what I believe in, as I think that is very important. I also liked the sense of unity and community between everyone marching.
So, all in all, I was very pleased that I went and would recommend that anyone who believes in something strongly, whether it be remaining in Europe or climate change or equal rights, stands up and makes their voice heard.
That way you can become one in a million too….
Cathy says:
Wow! I love that young people like Nell are making their voices heard - both on the issue of Europe and on other important issues too! Would YOU march for something you believe in? And do you have strong views on Brexit? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 23 March 2019


Reader Holly Mai shares her love for gymnastics and how sometimes it can be a struggle but you should never give up!

I first became interested in gymnastics because of a scooter (which had the Olympic rings on) in my garage! It’s not every day you find an inspirational item in your garage…. Anyway soon enough I was on the waiting list for gymnastic lessons and I don’t think it was that long until I was offered a place. My Tuesday’s were made!

When I first started, I could not do much more than a bunny hop. I’m pretty sure my only dream was to be able to do a cartwheel and a handstand. My main struggle back then was to actually start doing this move called a ‘bridge’ as I kept getting it wrong and doing it on my head. Eventually I learnt to do it properly and I was very pleased - this was one of the main challenges, as you need this move in order to do walkovers. When my first competition came it was quite cringeworthy - I forgot to 'present' and when I did I just put my arms to the side and ran off, which is not what you're supposed to do at all!

I started to watch the older girls in squads do gymnastics and I decided this what I would like to do. I decided to ask my mum and dad whether I could do two hours a week… and eventually they agreed! So I started to train with the squad he hardest challenges was probably the beam as it was haunted by a horrid memory. When I tried to do a cartwheel on the beam for the very first time, I fell and twisted my ankle. The bars were my favourite apparatus as I could twist and turn well. Another challenge was to ‘circle up’ because you have to be able to do that to do any other tricks on the bar. Eventually I learnt to do circle ups and entered my first disability competition with my friend Sophie. It was quite good as I did earn four gold medals so I was very happy at that point. It’s been a bit of a struggle, one week I'd go home crying and then the next week I would have learnt the move and feel really proud of myself.                                                                                                                             
I got moved up into different groups over the years and my most recent group is the disability development squad (I have hyper-mobility, but have never let this stand in my way). You get a choice of what to wear in any group, it’s either a crop top and shorts or a leotard. I just wear a leotard and shorts,  in winter though you should wear leggings and come into the gym. If you are wearing earrings you take them out or tape them up, if you hang long hair you just have it up in a ponytail or a plait. If you are starting to do more hours you could get a gym bag to put things you will need in. For example, a bag containing hand guards and some chalk if you need some, all though it should be provided in the gym. You might possibly need some tape if in case you have damaged something or you have disinformative knees like me and you have  hurt them and they feel funny and hurt a bit when you walk,  you would use the tape when that happens to stabilise them.

It was quite a struggle getting to where I am now nothing has changed but the groups and my worst apparatus is still the beam (because of my hyper-mobility). Luckily I have got some tips if you want to start gymnastics!

1. Don’t start at a young age - well you can, but don’t do lots of hours because if you do that you get burnt out and you don’t find it fun and you may start to get bored.
2. If you want fun, go to recreational gymnastics and if you do like it, the max is probably two hours a week if you're still quite young.
3. If you’re a bit older and getting serious about it you can add more hours.
4. Ask around to find the best gymnastic classes and clubs in your area!

Amazing - it sounds like hard work, but Holly Mai must feel so proud at her achievements!! Have YOU had experience as a gymnast? COMMENT BELOW with any tips or cool stories!

Sunday, 10 March 2019


Skye Tanberry looks to the mystical stars above and reads your fortune for March!! 

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Relationships, romantic or platonic, are being tested this month. You can sometimes have a short temper, especially with those you love. Try to be mindful of other people’s feelings. Having pride doesn’t have to mean hurting others.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Remember that things rarely turn out the way you planned, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t on the right path. Letting go of illusions will open up new opportunities for you to become the best version of yourself.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Your patience may be tested this month, as an important trip or project may have to be postponed. You have put a lot of work into this and you can’t wait to show others, but sometimes waiting is ultimately for the best.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Your dreams have become quite vivid lately, both good and bad. If you can remember them, jot them down in a journal. This month, creativity is fizzing to the surface, and you're also more in touch with your subconscious mind than usual. Pay attention to those dreams, they might be trying to tell you something!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Feeling extra adventurous this month? Thought so. Why don’t you get outside your comfort zone by taking up a new hobby or getting out into the wilds of nature? Grab a friend, go in a group or be a brave lone explorer, but go! This could be the start of something magical!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Now is not the time to be alone. You may often think you know best when it comes to matters of importance but working as a team can bring about a strength you just can’t experience on your own. You're independent, smart and strong, but even so, it's OK to ask for help sometimes!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Kickstart the month by focussing on your mind and bodily health! Meditation covers all bases and not only reduces mental stress but can physically improve your blood flow and respiratory system. Go forth and conquer the world, albeit upbeat and energised!!!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Now is the time to focus on new horizons. If there is a project you’ve been putting off for ages, now is the time to do it. Have fun and play around but stay focussed on your end goal and don’t be afraid to accept help from those around you.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
You might be feeling a bit stagnant after a long, hard winter but with Spring just around the corner, it may be time for an age-old makeover/clear out. Giving your room a spruce, changing up the layout and decorating it will bring a breath of fresh air to your life and improve your mental wellbeing.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
You little socialite! Usually quite shy, the stars align to bring you out of your shell a bit this month. Friends are your focus!! Though you are not the life and soul of the party, you are the backbone of your friend group. Organise a get together with your besties, show them how to have fun!!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
You are feeling quite nostalgic for the past. Emotions and memories could enter your subconscious  without asking. Try not to be taken aback but rather welcome them as parts of yourself gone by. They are your strengths, not your weaknesses.

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
New opportunities arise this month. You are learning things about yourself you never thought possible. There is a chance to redefine yourself through the help of others. Learning to trust others plays a big part in this.

Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU this month? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Saturday, 9 March 2019


Blogger Amy, alias @GoldenBooksGirl, reviews SAMI'S SILVER LINING... read on to see her verdict!

I have loved Cathy Cassidy's books for a long time, and SAMI'S SILVER LINING was no exception. Much like her Chocolate Box Girls series, each book of the Lost & Found series focuses on a different member of the titular band, and this one is Sami's story. Sami is a refugee, who has only newly arrived in England, and his book sees a new relationship and his involvement in the band beginning to bring down the walls that he has built up around himself to protect him from the incredibly harrowing experiences he has had since war broke out in Syria.

In addition to this, the other main part of the plot is a truly terrible keyboard player replacing the one who was forced to leave, with some pretty hilarious results. The members of the band are all so much fun, and I just adore all of them - my particular favourite is Marley, but I wanted things to go well for all of them. Seriously, there isn't a single one of the core group that I don't love.

Seeing things from Sami's perspective was so interesting, as well as utterly heart-breaking in places, and the progress he makes in coming to terms with his past and trying to build his future is so heart-warming and emotional. As is a certain unexpected event/ twist that I don't want to spoil! I can't wait to read Sasha's story in the third book, especially given the hints as to what issues she is facing given in this book, and frankly I'd love it if I got a book for every single member, even though this band is considerably larger than the average group!

Any readers who use Twitter may like to follow @GoldenBooksGirl there for the latest cool book reviews!

Cathy says:
Thank you Amy (and Amy's gorgeous dog!) for the lovely review! It totally made my day! Have YOU read SAMI'S SILVER LINING yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019


Thousands of school kids all over the world stand up for their future by missing school in protest to government climate change inaction!

Kate says:
The seed was planted when inspirational Swedish school pupil, Greta Thunberg, decided she'd had enough! She woke up one Friday, last year, and instead of attending her school, she went and stood outside the Swedish parliament in protest at the government's lack of action on climate change. She knew her future and the future of her peers was at risk, so why weren't those in power doing anything about it? Every Friday since then, Greta continued her strike and in doing so she has managed to kickstart a global movement.

On Friday 15th February, thousands of UK students from primary age upwards followed suit by dropping their pens and pencils for a day and picking up a placard! As part of the movement Youth Justice 4 Climate, these school kids felt that their voice wasn't being heard and the government was not doing enough to make their future seem secure. The attitude of those involved was, what use is it learning facts when the future is in jeopardy?

As well as calling for immediate and critical action to be taken regarding climate change, students also made it clear the government should lower the voting age to sixteen.

Support came from all ages, with kids as young as three or four in attendance all the way up to proud grandparents, cheering their grandkids on. True enough, however, there has been a mixed response to the strike action; many schools have condemned the strikes and have told children NOT to attend while the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated that these school children are "wasting lesson time" and the Education Secretary Damian Hinds said "missing class won't do a thing to help the environment."

But the protestors are determined and not about to give up! Another strike is set to take place in the UK on the 15th March. Will you be joining them?

Cathy says:
I have so much respect and hope for today's young people, and the strike against Climate Change is really inspiring at a time when world politics looks quite grim. What do YOU think about the young strikers? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 14 February 2019


We asked readers to tell us about their favourite romantic scene from a CC book... this is the result! 

Kayleigh says:
My favourite love scenes from a CC book will always be the scenes in CHERRY CRUSH when Shay goes to visit Cherry on the steps of the gypsy caravan. Especially the first time, when he just happens to be wearing a werewolf mask! Don't ask me why but it's just so lovely, and Shay is my favourite CC boy character of all time.

Matilda says:
My favourite couple in a CC book has to be Jude and Carter from SUNDAE GIRL. Carter is so cute and so funny, and very believable. I like the bit where they are walking home in the snow and Jude thinks he is going to kiss her, and instead he shoves a snowball down the back of her neck! It made me laugh out loud because it is just the sort of thing the boys I know might do. I also like the romance in LUCKY STAR where Cat and Mouse have a picnic sitting on top of a bus shelter! I like that the romantic bits are funny and not too mushy, and the boys are always cool.

Fantine says:
My preferred book from Cathy Cassidy is LES CINQ LETTRES DU MOT COEUR for I prefer a book that is sad and the characters I liked very much. I like the scene of the paper cranes, and how you see that the boy is much gentler than you think, when everyone thinks he is very bad, but really in fact misunderstood and very kind. It is a book of friendship more than love, which I like very much. The book is perfect for me.

Sara says:
LIFE IS SWEET is my favourite CC book as it shows so many behind the scenes glimpses of my favourite characters and an insight to how they think. My best characters are Summer and Skye who have a birthday on St Valentine's Day but are such very different characters even though they are identical twins. Summer is very girly and Skye not so much. I like the story where Alfie is trying to organise a Valentine's Day treat for Summer because it is so sweet and actually made me  cry a bit the first time I read it.

Leah says:
For Christmas a couple of years ago my mum got me a copy of LOVE, PEACE AND CHOCOLATE from eBay, a quite rare CC book from a few years ago. Quickly it became my favourite of all the books, even though it is short. It is a book about two best friends who fall for the same boy, and how their friendship is shaken by that. It is also a book about why a boy should never be allowed to come between two best friends! It is the opposite of a 'romance' in many ways, it is a book about girl power and friendship and not being taken in by losers. (I am nineteen now so maybe I can just see the message more clearly now!) Also it has the best title ever, because what more could anyone want but love, peace and chocolate?

Cathy says:
Aww I love these comments! Do YOU have a fave CC book? If so, which one - and why? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 11 February 2019


Reader Nallie felt so strongly about the plight of refugees after reading SAMI'S SILVER LINING that she decided to use her art skills to raise money for a refugee charity...

Nallie says:
I've been a big fan of CC books since we read INDIGO BLUE at primary school and I remember emailing Cathy once to tell her I loved it; I was so excited when she replied! I'm an adult now, but still love CC books. I've just finished reading SAMI'S SILVER LINING for the fourth time and I think it's one of my favourite books. As a vintage fashion and music lover, I adore all the references to The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Beatles and more - the character of Louisa Winter sounds like she could be a future me, to be honest!

The more serious undertones of the story in SAMI'S SILVER LINING focuses on the plight of child refugees and the war in Syria, and this got me thinking about how I could help. Like Sami, I like music and doodling, and I already sell my artwork on a website called RedBubble. So I decided  to make some music-themed Valentine's day cards and to donate the money from these sales to the refugee charity Safe Passage, mentioned at the back of the book, who help child refugees find safety. So far I've got Marc Bolan, Morrissey and Beatles themed cards, and I'm hoping to add more designs.

I'm also sharing my artwork on my Facebook and my Instagram asking people to buy prints or donate to the charity, so I thought I'd let you know how I'm helping! My art designs are on my RedBubble page, HERE   and my Instagram is @theblondeberet... please do follow and if you can buy a card or donate, that would be amazing!

Thank you Cathy Cassidy for writing such an amazing story and inspiring people to think about and help out with the refugee crisis. I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter of the Lost and Found!

Cathy says:
Nallie's response to SAMI'S SILVER LINING just blew me away... I love that she's been inspired to raise money for SAFE PASSAGE and I also love her gorgeous retro music-themed cards and artwork! Can YOU help by donating or buying one of Nallie's cards? Click the link above to find out how... and make Valentine's Day a day of spreading the love for everyone!

Monday, 4 February 2019



The pig is the last in the twelve year zodiac cycle in the Chinese calendar. When the Jade Emperor called for a great meeting, eleven animals came racing along including a monkey, a rooster, a dog (to name but a few) and just as the emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and a squeal was heard and along came trotting the pig! Here are ten cool things you may not know about Chinese New Year!!

1) In the distant past, there was a legendary great beast named Nian that would come every New Year’s Eve. The people lived in fear of this beast that had the head of a lion and the body of a bull. Eventually, it was found out that Nian was afraid of three things: the colour red, loud noises and fire! With that in mind, villagers started to decorate their houses in reds and scarlets, set fires in front of their doors, and stayed up all night making loud festivities and celebration. When Nian next came to visit, it scuttled back into the mountains in fear. Everyone celebrated, and though Nian never returned, the traditions persist just in case!!

2) More fireworks are set off that night than any other night of the year! Firecrackers are supposed to scare off monsters and bad luck for the coming year, so people stay up on New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers at the strike of midnight. In the morning, firecrackers are used again to welcome the new year and good luck.

3) Showering just isn’t allowed New Year’s Day and sweeping or throwing out the bins isn’t allowed before the 5th! This is to make sure you don’t wash away the good luck! The list of taboos are endless, here are a few more:
- Hair cutting (before February 2)
- Using scissors, knives and other sharp things
- Arguing, swearing
- Saying unlucky words (such as “death” and “sickness”)
- Breaking things

4) Your 'benming' year is the year of your zodiac animal. And of the 12 year cycle, it is the unluckiest for you. There are several reasons for this... the Chinese believe that children can easily be taken by demons. And your 'benming' year is your rebirth year.

5) Chinese New Year ends with a lantern festival. This festival dates back thousands of years to when Buddhists during the Han Dynasty hung lanterns in their temples. It usually occurs on the very last day of the festivities and on the New Moon. Signifying the coming of spring and family reunion.

6) Red envelopes  - containing money is an old tradition. The colour symbolises energy and fortune. Many carry several in their bags just in case they run into someone they wish to gift it to. It is frowned upon to open them in public and it is polite to receive them with both hands.

7) Black AND white clothes are considered a bad omen. Both these colours are a symbol of death in Chinese culture and therefore should be avoided. The best colour to wear is red, as it is a symbol of good luck.

8) Cherries are one of the most popular foods in this festive period! Its red colour obviously ties in with the prosperity and fortune theme; and its roundness symbolises perfection and eternity. Watch supermarkets stock up!!

9) 'Nianhua' or New Year pictures, are traditionally hung on doors during the festive period. The practice is particularly popular in the countryside and was recorded as far back as 800 years ago. The images are brightly coloured scenes of prosperity and good luck. Symbols such as birds and different fruits are popular, with one of the most common scenes being a plump baby with a really big fish!!

10) Everyone has a birthday on the seventh day! That's right, happy birthday to us all!! It is the celebration of Renri, the birthday of all humans. According to tradition, the goddess Nuwa created human beings from clay on the seventh day... so we all get to celebrate!

Well I've learned something new!! Have YOU got any cool stories or traditions you'd like to share? COMMENT BELOW!

Friday, 1 February 2019


The reviews for SAMI'S SILVER LINING keep on coming, and this month the book goes PAPERBACK, so take a look at these reviews and get your copy on order!

Sophie says:
SAMI'S SILVER LINING by Cathy Cassidy is an excellent read.  It is tear provoking (yes, it made me cry) and emotional but also has a thrill to it and lots of excitement. It helped me understand more about refugees and the conditions they have come from, and how we should help them. My favourite character in the LOST & FOUND series is still Lexie, because she is in this book a lot too, but I liked Sami and the new character Bobbi Jo also! Cathy’s style of writing is gripping and SAMI'S SILVER LINING will leave you begging for more of her books. My rating for this book is five stars!

Hannah says:
I really enjoyed SAMI'S SILVER LINING. I think that Sami's journey from war conflicted Syria to the safety in the UK is a very emotional subject. When Sami first arrives, he has a new home, new friends, relatives that support him... and also the LOST & FOUND, 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 children like Sami. I am planning to do something to help them too. Maybe I can do a sponsored event for Save The Children?

Mel says:
I just want to say how much I loved SAMI'S SILVER LINING. I loved how emotional the book was - especially towards the end - I can't explain what happens because, well, spoilers, but like I said, it was amazing. I could kind of relate to the story in some ways, with the bits where Sami found it difficult to let people in, and slowly learned to trust his friends more. This book is so good, so gripping, and I can't wait for the next book in the LOST & FOUND series - I'm really impatient to see whose story it will be!

Cathy says:
Thanks to Sophie, Hannah and Mel for their fab reviews for SAMI'S SILVER LINING - they've really made me smile! Have YOU read this book yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019


There's something about snow... it brings a special kind of magic to the greyest of winter days! We asked readers of all ages to tell us their favourite snow memories...

Anna Bella says:
I remember one winter with epic snow - we had so much that in our back garden we built a snow slide against the garden wall. We literally piled it up and even made snow steps at the side of the slide. We spent hours playing on it! Best snow memory of my entire life!

Katie says:
We hit the slopes with a toboggan when I was eight on a holiday in the Swiss Alps. I remember the croquettes afterwards being amazing. When I was even younger than that, five maybe, we went to the Grand Canyon and Mum thought she saw a dog in the trees... but it was a reindeer!

Rowan says:
I remember many snowy winters as a child in Hertfordshire. I remember tobogganing down a hill with my brother and my dad, and I remember long icicles hanging from the drainpipes. Every morning there'd be a hole in the milk bottle tops where birds had pecked at them to get to the milk. My brother, sister and I used to trek to the local shop with the sledge to get basic supplies!

Jodie says:
I remember a few years ago in London, where I live, we had a snow day and all the schools were closed. This hardly ever happened so it was very exciting! My brother and I went outside to go sledging - just one problem, we didn't have a sledge! We used binbags and they worked quite well. We built a snowman on the corner of the street, and when we looked out next day someone had built a snow woman next to it!

Mairi says:
I live in Scotland and we get snow every winter really, sometimes the school has to close early so everyone can get home safely and sometimes it doesn't open at all. We always make slides in the playground (even though we're not supposed to) and we have snowball fights on the way home, with gangs against each other. Once my friend and I tried to make an igloo, which was good. There's a hill on the edge of my village where everyone goes sledging - snow days are the best days ever!

Janelle says:
I live by the coast and we rarely get snow, or if we do, it doesn't settle for long. When I was small we lived in Derbyshire and we did get brilliant snow there, so it represents magic to me and I miss it a lot. Last week, we had a rare flurry of snow after dark and I ran outside in scarf and mittens and twirled around in it, and snowflakes landed on my hair, my eyelashes, even on my tongue. You're never too old for magic, are you?

Cathy says:
I have some great snow stories which I'll share with you one day... and I totally agree with Janelle, you are never too old for magic! What are YOUR fave snow stories? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 19 January 2019


Skye Tanberry is here with some mystical predictions and advice for a MAGICAL year ahead!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
You are super ambitious and work towards your goals no matter what cost. This bodes well for you in 2019, you will see great change. Some will be good and some bad - take it all in your stride, for the best things in life are never easy and it's all a learning curve. A stable house first must have solid foundations... and 2019 will see you take the first steps towards building an awesome future!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Artistic and spiritual guidance will be at the forefront this year. You will meet someone new, someone important who will help you realise a part of yourself you haven’t discovered yet... and you'll learn things about yourself which will help to shape and cement your future hopes and dreams. You like to respect tradition and can be very set in your ways but this is a good year to be adventurous!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
You are a sensitive and trusting soul and you care for others sometimes more than you do for yourself, no matter the cost. Well, this year is a chance for you to focus on what makes YOU happy! Whilst being there for those you love is undeniably admirable, it's essential to look after yourself too so that you can go on being the kind, caring person you are.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are bold and spontaneous, full of life and vigour! Show the world your true colours this year - adventure will find you, and all you really have to do is relax and go with the flow. Let go of your need to plan and control and see where 2019 takes you - there will be a few surprises! You are naturally competitive so use this to your favour by being the best version of YOU!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
For all your ambition and goals for this year, never underestimate the value in philosophical reflection. Where do you really want to be? What is the best way to get there? Ask questions! Be inquisitive! Try things out! By questioning your path you will find a greater understanding of the things that really make you tick... and suddenly the way forward will be clear.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Step outside your comfort zone this year, go with your gut instincts. You are naturally very intuitive,
so let this guide you forward. For Geminis, logic isn't always what is needed... your extra perceptive people skills and communication talents stem from a much more emotional place. Follow your heart - it may take you to places you never even dreamed!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
You are naturally a bit of an introvert, retreating to your shell when things get hard... just be sure you don't allow this trait to send you into hibernation mode! 2019 brings great opportunities and unexpected joy, but only if you dare to live life to the full. Though crowds and parties aren’t your thing, keeping a select few trusted loved ones around you will keep you right!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You will experience great changes this year. You may have been sitting a bit too comfortably recently, so try to welcome this change with open arms... what may seem confusing too others is actually just your way of taking ownership of your true hopes, dreams and wishes. You're doing great, so keep the faith. Show everyone who you are and who you can be - many chances are there for the taking this year.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Ever practical, Virgo! This year is no change, you methodically create your own path in life. You have many new projects to embark on in 2019… scope out those around you, see who will help you succeed and don't be afraid to put the work in to make those dreams happen. Be open to surprises, too - there may be a blessing in disguise from someone you wouldn’t expect!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Improving your personal relationships may be your focus this year. Friends and family are important and may make your already powerful self unstoppable! There may be some challenges to negotiate, and perhaps you'll have to bite the bullet and stay quiet when you would like to speak out, but put yourself in the other person's shoes and tread carefully. Sometimes small sacrifices can result in large rewards.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Health in mind and body will bring about real benefits to you this year. It can be hard to shrug off the January blues, but eating well and exercising has untold rewards to your mental health. Once you're feeling balanced and content, there's nothing you can't do this year - expect friendship, fun, adventure and newfound respect from others for a new skill! Look out 2019!!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
2019 is all about expanding your knowledge! You are naturally inquisitive and fascinated with the world around you, so why not share that fascination? Start debates, ask a stranger how their day is, be inspired to make new connections! Lessons are everywhere... and this is a learning year, but it will also bring new and unexpected friendships which will broaden your horizons. Cool!

Cathy says:
2019 is shaping up to be something special! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!


Reader Ruadhan shares her tips on making sure you are ready for whatever the exam season has to throw at you! Ruadhan says: Exam time...