Cristy Burne

Author, editor, science writer

Leave a comment

My top five activities for book and science lovers

Fremantle Press recently featured my top five activities for teachers to use with their book and science lovers in the classroom.

In case you missed it…here it is again!

Activities for Science Week and Book Week.JPG

1. Design your red planet submarine
We’ve just discovered a giant underground lake on Mars! Now we need to find out what’s in it. Imagine you’re in charge of designing the Mars Submarine Explorer. Draw it and label the features that’ll help you in your adventure. Then, when you’re ready, jump in and take it for a ride … Write down what happens and let us know what you discover!

2. Forget the Floss, dance the Peacock Spider
Kick off your day with a peacock spider-inspired dance routine to get your creative juices flowing. And while you’re busting moves, marvel at the fact that these incredible arachnids were only discovered last month and they live right here in Western Australia … How lucky are we?! When you have your breath back, imagine how it felt to be the first person in the world to see these spiders in action … Write a scene where you’re that person, sneaking through the bush on the trail of a new and amazing discovery.

3. Billionaire inventor
Ten of the 20 fastest-rising billionaires in the world work with new technologies. Imagine you’re an insanely rich technology entrepreneur. Now imagine you want to spend a wad of cash on a new project. What type of technology will you choose? A robot? A spaceship? A helpful gadget? A crazy invention? Sketch out your project and write an advertisement that explains what it will do. How will you encourage us to part with our money so we can own the Next Big Thing?

4. What if rhinos roamed Australia?
Rhinos are critically endangered, so why not introduce them to Australia? I love this plan! And it’s amazing for story ideas … What if rhinos roamed with kangaroos? What if your part-time job was caring for a rhino herd? What if poachers came to hurt your rhinos? What if we could have pet rhinos? Or use rhinos instead of lawnmowers? Brainstorm some ideas for what might happen in your story.

5. Create an emergency whistle
Hiking in the bush is a fantastic way to learn more about the world around you. There are insects and flowers and birds and trees, and there’s also survival, if things go wrong. When you read my latest book, Off the Track, you’ll learn the best way to stay safe in the bush is to be prepared. You can also learn a sweet trick that just might save your life. Spoiler alert: the trick is how to make a super-annoying whistle from an ordinary piece of paper. And remember, it’s not just super-annoying, it’s also educational! Yay, the science of sound!

Leave a comment

Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Carson…and Rebecca Laffar-Smith

RebeccaHoldingCarson.JPGIt’s been a busy month, with books launching and book week book weeking… And with all this exciting news, I’ve totally neglected my favourite segment: Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!!

For those playing along at home, in these posts, I feature an adorable canine creative muse. This post’s pooch is a tiny working dog that plays a huge role in the lives of his family.

Gorgeous Carson is assistant to Australian fantasy and children’s book author Rebecca Laffar-Smith, but that’s only part of his day job.

“We got Carson as a puppy two years ago with the intention of training him to be a service animal for my 14yo autistic son, Joshua,” says Rebecca.

About Carson 

Age:  2 years.

Breed (or best guess): Poodle cross Maltese (also known as a Moodle)

Assistant to: Children’s and scifi/fantasy author Rebecca Laffar-Smith.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith always yearned to explore the wonders of this world and beyond. She gave up a successful career writing about the non-fiction world in favour of fantastical creatures and the fanciful things she could create and immortalise in fiction.

Now she writes full-time while homeschooling her Autistic son, raising her creative daughter, and volunteering as an events coordinator and mentor for her writing community.

She dreams of someday running a writer’s retreat on the outskirts of Perth and writing her stories in a detached, hexagonal room with dozens of bookshelves and plenty of natural light.

Rebecca writes children’s books especially for dyslexic kids, and fantasy/scifi. Her most recent book is City of LIght, book one in the Shadows Of Nar.


Help or hindrance? “Carson sits in my lap when I’m working,” says Rebecca. “When I’m thinking or struggling with emotional scenes, he does his job as a service animal to comfort me and bring me back into the real world when I get a bit lost.”

Fave toy: “He has two favourite toys,” says Rebecca. “A fluffy, pink bunny and his brother, my mother’s Poodle-cross-Chihuahua (Choodle), Teddy.” (Sooo cute! Check out Carson and Teddy the day Rebecca and her mum picked them up.)

Fave game: “Carson loves Fetch,” says Rebecca. “We have a device that shoots a small ball across the room and he loves it, but hasn’t quite mastered putting the ball into it himself.”

Photos by: Kaylie Laffar-Smith, used with permission, all rights reserved.

You can see more of Carson and Rebecca on Twitter or check out her books for dyslexic kids or scifi/fantasy on Facebook.

Leave a comment

What’s your lighthouse? “Get creative in your classroom” competition

Fremantle Press are running a cool competition, and this is the sort of brilliant activity that might win it. I totally love this amazing creative writing, design and technology activity, inspired by To The Lighthouse.

The children designed and built their own lighthouses, then wrote a story about the history of their lighthouse: who built it and when, wany notable events in its history, and what’s happening with it now. AMAZING!!! I LOVE IT SO MUCH!

Check out the chequered history of this haunted lighthouse…

The Duncraig Saviour, by Tracey

This supernatural lighthouse is built in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.It is called the Duncraig Saviour because it is found by Duncraig citizens. It is surrounded by vicious sharks and loads more dangerous things.

The Duncraig Saviour was thoughtfully built in 1310 and was successfully built by  William Shakespeare when he was only 22 and loads of people helped him.

Unfortunately, when the building was nearly done, the top part fell down and lots of men and women died. Also when the balcony fell of, there was great trouble.

The Duncraig Saviour is not in use any more. It is haunted because it has been left for a long time and that it has slid into the ocean. The little fence fell of. Now loads of people are trying to find The Duncraig Saviour and fix it but now so far, there is no success.

Leave a comment

Book Week strikes again

Booragoon Primary

Hooray for Book Week!

I’m not sure if this combination of feelings is possible, but I’m simultaneously:

  • exhausted
  • invigorated
  • inspired

I feel SO LUCKY to have been part of Children’s Book Week 2018.

This last week has been a whirlwind of fabulous students, engaged teachers, welcoming librarians and fun stories. I’ve spent all week finding my treasure: celebrating books and literacy and children’s books in particular.

My job has been to inspire children to read stories, to create stories, to engage with the world around them, to feel wonder and passion. I loved it!!!

It was a massive week. Here are a few more favourite photos…

Thanks to everyone who came along to hear me speak, and to everyone who booked me in to visit their school or library. Yuluma Primary.jpgAnd of course, a huge thanks to the Children’s Book Council and to Healthways (Go for 2 & 5!), who sponsor so many Children’s Book Week activities every year. What terrific and important work you do!

Book Week costume success

And check out this clever akaname (Filth Licker) costume, made by Liza, worn by Andreas, and inspired by the second book in the Takeshita Demons series. How cool!!!

The akaname is a Japanese monster (or yokai) that likes to clean dirty bathrooms. Exactly what I need.

And, as those of you who study Japanese would know, aka means red, which is why the cute little guy is red. AWESOME! (You’ll see it’s murasaki on my cover.)


Leave a comment

What kids can do with glue and haiku

To Hedland I flew,

Friends and words mixed with red dirt

We wrote glue-haiku.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was lucky enough to spend a chunk of last week in Port Hedland visiting school kids and making poems at the West End Markets with Scribbler’s Fest and FORM WA. It was SUPER fun!

Not all the poetry the kids made was haiku. Some was freeform, some was prose.

All of it was thought-provoking and fascinating and fun. And lots of it made me laugh!

I had an absolute ball. I’m now Officially In Love with Hedland and the Pilbara.

The Port Hedland coffee was amazing, the cafe food fabulous, the landscape spectacular and the company an absolute hoot.

Thanks to the whole FORM team for making me feel so welcome and making me laugh. Especial thanks to Jeanine from the Port Hedland Visitors Centre for stocking gorgeous teapots, and to Deb for the courage to buy such a special teapot All For Myself.

And huge thanks to Maria for making it all happen….together we conquered airline food, invisible crocodiles, and even Putting Petrol Into A Hire Car. From here, I really don’t think anything can stop us.

Now, Children’s Book Week!

It’s here and it’s huge and… YAY!

Stories rock my world.







Leave a comment

National Science Weeeeeeek!

Woo hoo! It’s that craaaazy time of year 🙂

National Science Week is go! Children’s Book Week is waiting in the wings. And I am EXCITED!

Here’s what’s been happening:

Love Your Bookshop Day

Don’t you just love Love Your Bookshop Day!! I popped into the fabulous Beaufort St Books to read from Off The Track and run a Rather Noisy make-your-own-whistle competition. I now feel my impact on this planet is certain. Long after I am no more, children everywhere will be able to make horrendous noises using only a piece of paper and their knowledge of reverberation and sound. Yay science!!! (Did you miss out on this glorious celebration of science? Download your own instructions here.)

Make Your Own Survival Whistle

LIT LAB: Science Week Bonanza

We had a FANTASTIC time at gorgeous Paper Bird on the weekend as part of National Science Week. Children’s book illustrator and physicist Aśka was there, blasting off rockets. Children’s book illustrator and entrepreneur Sam Hughes ran an awesome art-and-science session in her Art Lab.

And I ran a session called “Science in the news: Making it…and faking it”, which was loads of fun. We talked interview technique, we talked flying cars, we talked about carnivorous underwater unicorns, and how to pick fake news (not pick fake nose). It was a load of fun!

Thanks to everyone who came, and to WritingWA, National Science Week and Paper Bird for making it happen.

Making and faking science news.JPG

Photo: Paper Bird Children’s Books

And here’s what to look forward to…

The Great Big Dark and Spooky Book Read – Wednesday 3 October

Great Big Dark and Spooky Book Read.png

With Fremantle Press

Follow the torchlight to your seat around the ‘campfire’ for a thrilling story time experience with amazing local writers.

The Great Big Dark and Spooky Book Read features

  • Bush and Beyond  author Cheryl Kickett-Tucker,
  • Gastronauts author and illustrator James Foley,
  • Off the Track author Cristy Burne,
  • The Hole Story author Kelly Canby,
  • In the Lamplight author Dianne Wolfer and
  • More and More and More author Ian Mutch.

From the shadows cast by war to the inside of the human body, from cozy boltholes to the vastness of space, don’t let your fear of the dark discourage you. These fun and exciting stories will light up imaginations of children aged 5 and up!

Date & time: 11:15am, Wednesday 3 October, 2018.
Venue: The State Library of Western Australia – Theatre
Ages: 5 and up
Duration: 60 minutes

With each $25.50 ticket you’ll recieve a copy of one of the following books:

  • Bush and Beyond by Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, Jessica Lister, Tjalaminu Mia and Jaylon Tucker
  • Gastronauts by James Foley
  • Off the Track by Cristy Burne
  • The Hole Story by Kelly Canby
  • More and More and More by Ian Mutch
  • In the Lamplight by Dianne Wolfer

Please nominate which book you would like to receive when purchasing your ticket.
Book your Great Big Dark and Spooky tickets here (and choose which book you’d like)!

Leave a comment

Happy Launch Days: it’s (non-identical) twins

It’s been a huge week! We’ve launched not one, but two of my books!! I’m hugely proud and strangely numb. It’s thrilling and gut-wrenchingly scary at the same time. Thank you to everyone who has helped with ideas, cups of tea, editing, fact-checking, moral support, graphic design, gorgeous illustrations, devastatingly cute robots, my mood swings, impossible deadlines, proof-reading, beta-reading, supposed-to-be-eating-dinner-reading and more. Thanks especially to my family, who inspired in me a love of bushwalking, a passion for reading, and an understanding of how important it is to sometimes just try turning your device on and off.

Time to paaaaarty!

August is also National Science Week and Children’s Book Week, so I’m going to be celebrating with a month-long book party….yeeeha!

And I hope I’m lucky enough to be celebrating with you!

I’ve booked loads of events at bookshops, schools and libraries across Perth and WA, so I hope to see you there! Many of these events are already booked out (thank yooooou!), but I’ll be posting details of future opportunities as they crop up…watch this space 🙂


Like a paper set of non-identical twins, Off The Track was born on 31 July and Zeroes and Ones followed hours later on 1 August.

(Thank goodness they’ll both be in the same year at school…imagine the confusion if they were born 30 June and 1 July ;-))

Off The Track is out with Fremantle Press, and Zeroes and Ones is published by Brio Books. You can buy them from all brilliant book shops, or request them at your local library. I dare you 🙂