Cristy Burne

Author, editor, science writer

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Off The Track – super exclusive advance release

Those of you who were part of Balingup’s writing festival, Telling Tales, will know there’s been a Super Exclusive Advance Release of Off The Track. Balingup is a Bibbulmun Track town, so what better spot to share this story of family hiking adventure.

Copies were snapped up by young and old, plastic and fleshed.

I was also able to hand out some free bookmarks, thanks to Fremantle Press. They were popular with young and fire extinguishers. And also real people.

Don’t be a dummy! Find out what all the buzz is about and pre-order your copy. It’s officially in shops from 31 July (and for those who love computing, history and trivia, Zeroes and Ones is released the next day!)


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Zeroes and Ones advance copy!

Zeroes and Ones-Cristy Burne.JPGI’m way too excited to let you know I HAVE MY ADVANCE COPY OF ZEROES AND ONES!!!

This is my first book with Brio Books.

I love the gorgeous books they make, and I was quietly hoping they would make my book look and feel the way they make Adam Spencer’s books look and feel (which is amazing!).


It’s shiny!

It’s pretty!

It’s a whopping 237 pages and running your fingertips across the raised font on its cover feels Just So Lovely!

It’s dedicated to the innovators of tomorrow.

When I imagined this book, I wanted it to be something kids could be inspired by. I wanted it to contain real-life stories of hope and failure and dedication and triumph. And I hoped it would be a book parents and children and teachers could read to help think about where we fit in this world of STEM* and STEAM** and social media and tablets and apps and all the other things that demand our attention.

I wanted this to be a book that kids could read with a view to creating technology, not just consuming it.

And well, it’s here now. I tried my best…and I hope Zeroes and Ones has achieved all of these things and more. Also, I hope it’s quirky and funny and OMG-is-that-really-true interesting.

Pre-order now!

If you know a mini innovator who loves computers and coding, wacky facts and hard-to-believe stories, you can pre-order your own highly strokable copy of Zeroes and Ones today, from Booktopia, or Boffins, or QBD, or ask at your fabulous local bookstore and they’ll order it in. THANK YOU! It’s recommended for kids in upper primary and beyond.

And I hope you enjoy your fast and fabulous non-digital journey through computing and time! What happens next is up to you…


And acronyms decoded:

* STEM = science, technology, engineering and maths

** STEAM = science, technology, engineering, arts and maths



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Tales from Telling Tales in Balingup

I’m just back from the most fabulous weekend in the gorgeous town of Balingup. We had stunning weather for this year’s Telling Tales in Balingup Festival, and that was just icing on the cake for a super weekend.

Hundreds of people turned out for writing and illustration workshops, meet-the-author sessions, parades, pantomimes, gourmet pies, great coffee, loads of laughs, kite-making, book-reading and more. I ADORED IT!

Thank you to everyone who shared their ideas and read their work and chatted and laughed and bought my books. I appreciate it! Thanks to Timber Top Cottages for a log fire and stunning forest views. And special hats-off to the organising committee. You pulled together an A+ weekend of fun and literature and children’s books and lovely people. You rock!!


I got to be a sous chef for giggle-a-line children’s poet Chris Owen. I sat in on the most hilarious, poignant and floss-worthy author talk c/o multi-talented author Deb Fitzpatrick. I drank matcha latte with an incognito mouse. I shared a meal with my gorgeous cousin and her equally gorgeous family. I was blown away by kids’ ideas, stories and writing.

Also, I took a selfie with some chickens.

And I laughed a lot. Thanks to everyone who made it great! Thank you Balingup!

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Lost your phone charger? Why not wear it?


Dr Shayan Seyedin with some fibres of MXene

I lost my phone charger, again.

I was alone in the house, running from room to room helplessly picking up bits of lost laundry and shifting bits of important-but-also-lost paper.

And I was sweating. Badly. Because I neeeeeded my phone.

And then I had this idea:

What if you could wear your phone charger, like, as part of your shirt or something? This idea is gold. A killer. Pure genius. Wearable electronics chargers. All it needs is for someone to invent it.

Lucky for me, it’s already being done. Unlucky for me, it’s a fair wait away yet.

So, while I run around the house searching for my charger, why not check out this article (below) that I wrote for Crinkling News.

It’s about dissecting blow dryers, sheets of atoms, and wearable chargers. How cool would that be!?!?!

Blow dryers, persistence and wearable electronics

When Dr Shayan Seyedin was a kid, he liked taking things apart and putting them back together, but things didn’t always work out how he intended.

“I bought a blow dryer for my hair, but it wasn’t fast enough for me,” he says. “So I changed the low-power DC motor to an AC motor…but then it was blowing too much air, so it wasn’t hot enough.”

He decided to upgrade the heating element. “That wasn’t a great idea, it overheated and each time the whole dryer would turn off.” So he made more changes. By the time he’d finished, his hairdryer was so powerful it would interfere with TV reception. “My dad used to shout ‘turn that vacuum cleaner off,’” he grins.

The lessons learned from trying and failing as a kid are important now in his research, Dr Seyedin says. “It’s all about constantly improving,” he says.

Today, that’s exactly what he does: Dr Seyedin is a researcher at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials.

MXenes, graphene and your pencil

Two-dimensional materials are the thinnest materials known.

  • MXene (pronounced “max-een”) was discovered in 2011. It’s made from several layers of carbon and titanium atoms, all joined together into sheets.
  • Graphene was discovered in 2004. It’s similar to MXene, but made from a single layer of pure carbon atoms. It’s super-light, great at conducting electricity and 100 times stronger than steel. However, graphene fibres aren’t as good as MXene at storing energy.
  • You can see graphene when you use a pencil: the mark your pencil makes as it slides across the page is made from many thousands of layers of graphene. When this much graphene is in one place, we call it graphite.

Stand back, old-fashioned batteries

You can see a sheet of paper, but you can’t see a sheet of MXene. It’s tens of thousands of times thinner than a full stop.

But if you cram thousands of MXene sheets into a tub of clear liquid, you might see a dark green shimmer. And if you force these thousands of sheets through a space as small as the eye of a needle, you’ll see something truly incredible come out the other side: a flexible fibre.

Why would you bother? Because MXene is terrific at conducting electricity and storing energy. Stand back, old-fashioned batteries. Make way for wearable, chargeable electronics.

Taking charge

The outfit you’re wearing right now is probably woven using thousands of ordinary fibres. But who wants ordinary? “I thought that if we made fibres out of MXene, we could make fibres with energy-storing properties,” says Dr Seyedin.

However, MXene is tricky to spin into fibres. The individual sheets just slide apart, like piled-up sheets of paper.

After three years of trying, Dr Seyedin solved this problem. He discovered that by forcing thousands of MXene sheets through a small space, you can join the sheets together. Like crumpling sheets of paper into a ball, you end up with a solid, three-dimensional material.

If you keep pushing MXene through the space, it crumples into long, thin MXene fibres, a bit like making spaghetti.

171165-shayan-seyedin-031smMXing out

Dr Seyedin found that MXene fibres can trap lots of charge in the many tiny spaces created by crumpling the thousands of layers. When you use the fibre to power something, these trapped charges flow out of the fibre and into your device. Recharging the fibre is the same as recharging any other battery.

Wearable future

Using just three fibres, each around a few centimetres long, Dr Shayan Seyedin can power an LED light for fifteen minutes. “These fibres are tiny, we’re talking about one single fibre on a shirt, not the whole shirt,” he says. He’s already imagining what can be done with an entire shirt.

“The next stage will be transforming the small fibres into actual wearable articles of clothing…pants pockets, wristbands or shirt patches that are capable of storing energy and charging devices.”

And maybe, just maybe, we can do away with our phone chargers…forever!!!!




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Hike with your kids this school holidays

Hiking adventure.jpgThere is nothing better than grabbing your kids, filling some packs and walking off into the bush.

It’s exciting.

It’s educational.

But most of all, it’s building up quality experiences with your soon-to-be-grunting-teenagers.

Hiking with your kids spells QUALITY TIME in massive wilderness-sized capitals.

Hiking with your kids is also hard.

It’s instant coffee, basic ablutions, below-average food and rubbish sleep. It can be stinking-hot, bitterly-cold or ankle-deep-mud. There will be sore muscles, exhaustion, whinging… And that’s just from you.

But don’t stop reading.

Facing these challenges together — and overcoming these challenges together — is part of why hiking with your kids is so great.

Think back to your all-time best memories. I’m talking the times you look back on and they automatically make you smile. You maybe think “How did I ever survive that?!” or “What was I thinking!?” (or  “Oh, to be young again”).

Well, whatever you’re remembering right now, I’m guessing it’s something from outside your Ordinary Life. Something beyond the Every Day.

Something More.

But there is literally no time for Something More (unless its Netflix)

I hear you. If you’re anything like me, most of your hours are consumed with (and exhausted by) Ordinary Life. Making school lunches, paying bills, trying to find your kids shoes while signing forms and putting away groceries and oh-my-god-is-the-pasta-on-fire!?

During Ordinary Life, I tend to communicate with my kids in the following ways:

  • “Where is your bag/lunchbox/shoe/s?! We’re going to be laaaate!”
  • “Have you brushed your teeth/done your homework/had your shower/cleaned your room/died of boredom/etc.”
  • “Yes, you will eat that broccoli because, no, you won’t get dessert.”
  • “Yes, all of the broccoli.”
  • “Yes, I’m aware that you don’t like broccoli.”
  • Etc.

But, Ordinary Life goes out the door when we’re on a Hiking Adventure with the kids.

Even something as simple as having a snack becomes epic. It’s an achievement just to make a cup of tea. (And eating broccoli? Well, I’m not saying hiking will work miracles, but let’s just say, it’s amazing what kids will happily eat after a day of hiking trails.)

It’s just you, your kids and the contents of your packs.

Your first hike doesn’t have to be an epic end-to-end on the Bibbulmun. It doesn’t even have to be an all-day attempt. Just an hour or two in the fresh air with your feet keeping beat is enough.

This school holidays we’re be seizing the chance to inject Something More into the Ordinary, so the next sunny winter’s day we’ll be heading to the hills. Don’t know where to go? Just Google “Family day hikes” and you’re away.

If you’re in Perth, our Top 3 Favourite Places to spend an hour or two in the bush this school holidays are:

  • Lake Leschenaultia: Coffee shop, pump track, lake for building sandcastles and paddling, plus you can walk/bike all around the lake or even hire canoes.
  • Lesmurdie Falls: Even in winter, this little creek is great fun. You can dam it, jump it, tightrope-on-logs across it, or just walk alongside it on your way to the base of the falls. There are rocks to climb and you can even climb to the top of the falls if you want to get the heart rate up (or you can just watch your kids climbing on the rocks and achieve the same result 😊)
  • Noble Falls: A babbling brook, a bakery, and you can even bring your dog. A great spot to get your shoes and socks off and explore. What’s not to like?!

Let me know how you go!

And happy hiking 😊

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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Pepsi…and Sandi Parsons

Pepsi and Sandi Parsons.jpgToday we’re celebrating another clever canine in…Dogs of the Rich and Famous.

Today’s dog is Pepsi Parsons, Canine Story Advisor to West Australian author and proud book nerd, Sandi Parsons.

And in true Canine Story Advisor fashion, Pepsi has opted to tell her own story for us today…

Pepsi Parsons, Canine Story Advisor

When I first got this request from Cristy, I was so excited, I ran around chasing my tail for a bit. Then I read the fineprint: Cristy wanted my writer to do this interview.

But I’m rich (I have people to look after me!) and I’m waaaayyyy more famous than my writer, so I decided to take over. It’s what I do best.

pepsi-the-problem-puppy.pngBlue Heelers are working dogs, and I’m no exception. I’ve been a Canine Story Advisor for six and half years and I’m pretty good at it, even if I do say so myself.

I take research assignments very seriously. Once I ran away from home, and went on an adventure up and down the street. Then I found a bowl full of cat kibble and ate it all up. Yum! My writer yelled something fierce at me at the time, but she calmed down later and wrote all it about it in our book. It was a win for everybody.

While the research is fun and interesting, filing and editing are my least favourite jobs. Sometimes it looks like I am sleeping during the editing process, but I promise I’m busy being an excellent paperweight. The office chair spins which sort of makes up for the boring bits.

The worst thing about being a Canine Story Advisor is the puparazzi. Always with the photos!

About Pepsi

Age: 6.5

Breed (or best guess): A disgracefully behaved but sweet-natured blue heeler.

Assistant to: Sandi Parsons, author and proud book nerd.

Help or hindrance? Pepsi takes her role of Canine Story Advisor seriously, putting much thought and practice into the antics and shenanigans of her fictional counterpart.

She claims all shenanigans are purely for research purposes only, and that any Houdini-like escape attempts are not trouble, but plot points.

She’s currently giving some thought to setting the record straight and publishing her memoirs, tentatively titled Pepsi the Perfect Puppy.

Fave place: Lazing in the sun

Fave game job: Chief of Border Security for her household.

You can find Pepsi on the web and on Instagram. She has been officially acknowledged as a Canine Story Advisor on the title page of Pepsi the Problem Puppy.

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SCBWI West rocks 10 years at Rottnest

Tenth anniversary SCBWI retreat.JPG

Merch by illustrator Aska, modeling by author-illustrator Jake Bamford

Every year for the last ten years, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has descended upon Rottnest Island for four days of writing and illustrating, inventing and pitching, laughing and heckling (quite a lot of heckling, actually :-)).

This year was our Tenth Anniversary. We had more than 60 of us on the island, including our dynamite duo of publishers, Suzanne O’Sullivan from Hachette and Susannah Chambers from Allen & Unwin. So. Much. Fun.

It was quite simply AMAZING. Thank you to everyone who came along, for your generosity and humour and for putting up with the smell in the Peacock Inn. You all rock.

Some happy snaps below, shared from the SCBWI West Rotto 2018 Instagram account. Want more? You can follow SCBWI West all year round for the hottest illustration and writing talent 🙂 Yes, that’s us, SCBWIlies 🙂