Cristy Burne

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Festival fever, creative classroom competition and #amediting (still)

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A selfie of 900 kids pretending to take a selfie @ Scribbler’s Festival 2019

May is nearly over!

I’ve been super-busy, including appearances at Somerset Storyfest on the Gold Coast, Scribbler’s Festival in Perth and the Margaret River Readers and Writer’s Festival in…Margaret River.

Packing my bags, again!

Next month I’m off to the Gold Coast again as part of the Whitsundays Voices festival.

I’m still pinching myself – there’s nothing I love more than meeting readers, inspiring kids and meeting loads of other book lovers and creators.

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Pre-launch-party antics with Belinda Murrell and Kasey Edwards (AKA Violet Grace) at Sumerset Storyfest

#amediting #itshard

Ordinary life has been flat out too…camping trips and dog sits and tooth extractions and I’M STILL WORKING ON THAT SAME MANUSCRIPT and IT’S STILL DOING MY HEAD IN and I HOPE I’M GETTING CLOSER TO THE END.

This has been a really tricky thing to write and it’s proving even trickier to edit.

Hopefully the results are worth it. If not, I’ll have a little cry, hug my dog and know I’ve done my best. I’ve already learned so much from trying to write it.


Fun and games and school visits for the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Creative classrooms competition!

For those of you who are teachers or parents, Fremantle Press is running a fantastic Creative Classrooms competition.

This year’s prize includes every book on the 2019 children’s list, plus a selection of books suited to your school’s needs. What do you need to do?

Simply take photos of a creative classroom project you’ve been working on, inspired by any Fremantle Press book.

Email your photos to with the subject line: 2019 Fremantle Press Creative Classrooms Competition. Include your school’s details, who took the photos and who or what features in the photos.

Good luck! (And happy editing!)



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5 top tips for turning your child on to reading

Do you have a reluctant reader? Want some book suggestions for reluctant readers? The secret is turning your child on to stories.
Here are my five top tips:
1) Start with story.
Your child will fall in love with reading when they are driven from inside themselves to turn the pages. Choose books with stories that will resonate with your individual child.
To turn your kid onto reading, you need to find them stories about the things they’re interested in. Stories about monsters and sacrifice and true friendship and fight scenes and magic and miracles and unicorns and quests and so much more.
2) Read out loud to your child.
Even if your kid knows how to read, read to them out loud. This is about you and your child sitting together on the couch. No music, no TV, no devices. And *YOU* do all the reading. No strings attached.
Reading to your kid is super-important, because learning to read can be super-boring. When was the last time you sat down to read the phone book? Or a dictionary? Reading is about so much more than recognising words and letters. It’s about STORY. So choose a story to read to you child that is so exciting, so thrilling, so engaging that they will beg to you keep reading. Because THEY HAVE TO KNOW what happens next. And then read that story to them.
3) Don’t try to shield your kid from the world
Scary and sad and mean are part of your child’s world. And there is no safer way to learn to cope with these things that to read scary and sad and mean stories and scenes together with your trusted adult, on the couch, together.
Reading stories is a super way to learn how to cope with difficulties and hard times. And 99% of children’s stories have a happy ending that fills you and your child with hope. Sharing stories together is an incredibly positive way for your child to learn about the world.
4) Aim high.
The more words your child hears, the better their literacy becomes, so don’t limit the vocabulary you expose them to.
Choose a book that is far in advance of what your child can read. Choose a book that contains words they don’t understand. Don’t worry if even you don’t understand some of the words (this happens to me a lot!). Anything goes so long as the story is something that hooks them in and has them wanting more.
5) Read together every day
Make reading together on the couch or in bed a daily thing. Your aim is to hook your child with the story you are reading. You can’t do this if you only read every now and then. You need to remember the story and the characters if you are to care about what happens next.
Fair warning: despite the author’s very best efforts, it may take a few chapters for your child to become fully invested in a story. Try to read for at least 15 minutes together, every day. You don’t have to finish a complete chapter (some chapters are SOOOO long), but aim to finish on a bit of a cliffhanger.
You want your child to beg you for five more minutes of reading, so they can find out what happens next.
This is the power of stories.
And stories are the purpose of reading.


WAYRBA, Notables and Woy Woy!

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Science writers of Australia, unite!

Yikes – it has been a busy start to the year. I’ve been speaking at libraries and schools and jetsetting to Sydney and retreating to Margaret River.

I’ve also been lucky enough to have two books longlisted for children’s book prizes: 

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I was with a group of emerging writers at The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft when we heard the CBCA news…


Both of these things are a dream come true. I get to have a little sticker on my books!

Plus (even better than the sticker), I have the feeling that children and adults are reading and enjoying and sharing conversations about my books. Wheeee! It’s the author’s equivalent of an Olympic medal and I feel I have run a marathon or two.

THANK YOU to each of *YOU* for helping along the way. 

There are more marathons to run, but it’s way more fun to run with company 🙂 (PS: I’m more of a fast walker, myself).

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Some WA children’s book creators rocking Sydney’s penthouse accommodation 😉 

Side trip to Woy Woy

I know many of you will be asking, how did you do all this and a trip to Woy Woy too? Well, the answer is, I made a terrible, terrible mistake.

I accidentally missed my train change and ended up on an express to Woy Woy instead of hopping to Beecroft.

This resulted in an approximately three hour detour, which was initially horrifying (WHAT HAVE I DONE?? WHERE WILL I SLEEP??) but ended up extremely relaxing (I am chronically early, so managed to arrive only ten minutes late for my Beecroft event)(Plus, the train ride to Woy Woy is beautiful! Although I recommend you plan your trip first :-))


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Woy Woy: Why would you go anywhere else?

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OFF THE TRACK to be serialised in Term 4

Hooray! I’m super-excited to announce that Off The Track will be serialised in The West Australian’s ED! magazine in 2019.

Below is an interview I did to celebrate the news.

Now all I need to do is get out my editing blade and cut the book down to 10 excerpts of 1000 words each. Should be easy, right? (Right?) (Huh?)

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Why do you use local; nature spots as the settings for your stories?

I love to tell stories our children can identify with. It’s super-exciting to be able to picture exactly where a story is happening. And in this case, it’s not New York, it’s not London, it’s Western Australia, because cool stuff can happen here too.

I love to write adventures that happen outside, in the fresh air and the trees, because I want to encourage children and families to get outside and reconnect with nature.

Do you think more kids should be bugging their parents to take them exploring in the wilderness?

If your kid is bugging you for more time exploring in the wilderness, then you have it easy. Just say “Okay honey” and make it happen.

Where is your favourite place to explore the wilderness in WA?

I love the Bibbulmun Track, so it’s no surprise that this is the setting for Off The Track. The Bibb is so long, you can experience all kinds of wilderness across many different parts of WA. Wherever I’m hiking, I always have a feeling of being out in the world, of the enormity of nature. It helps me to put everyday problems and struggles into perspective.

What’s the best part about being an author?

I love that my job is always changing and I can dive deep into different stories and different ideas. I also love the extremes of my job. I can spend the morning alone in a silent room, and the afternoon at a school speaking to 500 kids. Whatever I’m doing, my goal is always to inspire kids to become keen readers and engaged citizens.

Do you have a favourite place in Perth?

I have loads of favourite places in Perth… The beach. King’s Park. Home. Fremantle. North Perth. Our living room on a sunny winter’s afternoon, when the sun streams in and the kids are playing together nicely (yes, this does happen).

Where do you write?

I do most of my writing at home. We have an open plan office-cum-library-cum-computer room. It’s also the dog’s room. She has her own couch and she can type on my keyboard if she jumps up in just the right spot. That’s how I know it’s time for a walk.

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Holidays, penis bones and our board game binge

Don’t you just love January? 

For me it’s the month that just slides right on by. There’s no school. No uni. No deadlines. Just summer heat and icy drinks and my pile of to-be-read books. It’s the month of the year where I do the least, and I’m so grateful and lucky to have it.

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That said, I have still been tapping away at the keyboard. I’ve cooked up a few articles, including this fun story on penis bones (or lack thereof).

I’ve also recorded a podcast on how much can be achieved when science and creativity go hand in hand.

And I’ve painfully slogged my way kicking and screaming and scraping and wailing slowly forward in my long-suffering work-in-progress manuscript. Argh.

A more sensible me would just leave this manuscript half-finished and get on with something else.

But I just can’t. I already tried.

The story just keeps bugging me and wanting to be finished. I think I care so much about the characters I can’t bear to leave them in limbo. Also, it’s a story I want people to read.

Except I don’t really know how the story ends. So that’s tricky, now, isn’t it. Grrr.

But, if ever there was a month where I have the luxury of kicking and screaming and scraping forward (instead of steamrolling forward in my usual deadline-driven approach), that month would be January.

All hail, January…
…for some (pitiful) manuscript progress (but nonetheless progress) has been made.


When I haven’t been writing I’ve been loving the chance to try farmsitting, plus some ruthless spring cleaning (my secret passion) and board gaming!

We’ve spent entire days building railways in Ticket to Ride.
Or saving the world in Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
Or escaping Abandoned Cabins and Mummy’s Tombs in various incarnations of Exit.
Or raiding treasure in Luxor.
Or stomping wasps in Dragonwood.
Or trying not to get electrocuted in Forbidden Sky.

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Now that I read that list, I have an inkling where January went. Board games!

It seems we have developed quite an appetite.

Don’t you just love school holidays 🙂


My favourite 4am start: one year of Ellie the giraffe

Time is flying and I can’t believe school is already finished for 2018!

I’m still recovering from being on NSW-time for Russ the Bus, and all this getting up early each day reminded me of my favourite super-early start: it was in 2017, and it was 4am.

Giraffe Correspondent

I was Crinkling News‘ Giraffe Correspondent, in charge of waking up super-early to catch the arrival of Ellie the giraffe to Perth Zoo. It was the chance of a lifetime, so I gave the kids the choice to come too. They opted to join me, voluntarily waking up at 4am to be part of the excitement. Go kids!

Ellie was late to arrive, which meant we were a little late for school, but it was all worth it! Here’s the story I wrote for Crinkling: I hope you think of Ellie next time you’re planning a road trip 😉

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By Cristy Burne

At 3.2 metres tall, Ellie’s short for a giraffe, but there’s no way she’d fit into an aeroplane.

That’s why she travelled by road from Australia Zoo in Queensland, to Perth Zoo in Western Australia, crossing four states and clocking up 4510 kilometres.

“It’s the longest-ever road trip for a giraffe in the world,” says Andrew Stubbs, operations supervisor for transport company Toll Group. “We left Brisbane Monday [September 18 2017] lunchtime and arrived in Perth Thursday [September 21 2017] morning.”

Every kilometre of Ellie’s trip was carefully planned over many months. The team arranged for power lines to be lifted, traffic to be held back, and even for the lights to stay green.

“The idea was to get her here as quickly as possible, and as safely as possible,” says Perth Zoo’s Danielle Henry.

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Incredibly, Ellie spent the entire journey standing in her crate.

“Giraffes don’t really sleep for long…they just have nanna naps,” Ms Henry says. “And they don’t generally lie down, because then they’re susceptible to lion attacks.”

Ellie didn’t even break for a toilet stop—keepers just cleaned her crate on the go.

“Australia Zoo spent around four months getting her used to the crate, and making that a really positive space for her,” says Ms Henry. “They fed her in it, they got her used to walking in and out of it.”

80,000 giraffes in the wild

Ellie’s just 16 months old [at time of arrival], but she’s already an important part of the Australasian Giraffe Breeding Program. Zoo staff hope she’ll eventually breed with Perth Zoo’s bull giraffe, Armani.

“All the zoos work together to try and save this species,” says Ms Henry. “There’s probably only about 80,000 of them left in the wild.”


This story originally appeared in Crinkling News. 

Thanks to Perth Zoo for the images.