Cathy Cassidy: Looking Glass Girl reviewed by Kath Pengilley

This review was written by a member of the Ilkley Literature Festival review team. The Review Team take part in a special reviewing workshop at the start of the Festival before attending Festival events.


Cathy Cassidy author and former Jackie magazine agony aunt, attracted a sizable audience to the intimate venue of Ilkley Playhouse.

Dressed in black except for a small amount of beige piping around the edges of her pockets, neckline and the top of her boots with a blue scarf thrown casually around her neck, her layered look and crimped hair gave her overall appearance a hint of Alice in Wonderland.

She told how as a child her favourite subjects in school had been English and Art but that she was always in trouble for daydreaming. She asked how many of the children present had been in trouble for day dreaming, and hinted that there were tips she had which would work to stop you getting caught, but she couldn’t tell them as there were teachers present and so directed children to her website.

After showing where her first books were written, in a small blue garden shed, she showed slides of mood boards which she used to loosely plan her stories. These included pictures of Alice’s clock, a broken mirror, some drawn pictures of Alice, a teapot, Alice when she was too big for the house, and a bottle of potion marked ‘drink me’. Also a sign which read ‘We are all mad here’.

Ms Cassidy then suggested the best lesson in the world would be creative visualization where the classroom would have bean bags, music, fresh cookies and hot chocolate where you could dream up anything, such as a recipe for the best chocolate fudge cake in the world.

She spoke briefly about her book; a reworking of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. She spoke of her love of the story, the character of Alice, and the effect which it had on her as a child. She also told how she had re-read it and found it a much darker story as a teenager.

Then she read the first page of the opening chapter which related an emergency call for an ambulance.

During a brief question and answer session the audience asked which was her favourite book as a child, Ms Cassidy admitted that she found it ‘very hard to give one answer’, but that it was probably Watership Down ‘which had a picture of a rabbit on the front’.

Also asked where she got her inspiration she explained that writers are like magpies who people watch and steal characteristics and interesting clothing and speech combinations.

She then signed books in the lobby area.

Kath Pengilley is also known as The Poetic Baker. She the proud owner of a strange mind, and a small black Corsa. Kath is a member of Otley Poets and live between Keighley and Skipton with her two cats. She got involved with the Ilkley Literature Festival as a reviewer, as a way to meet like minded people and to give something back to the local community.