Cristy Burne

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Happy Book Birthday to Aussie STEM Stars!


Happy Book Birthday to this wonderful story! The true life of Prof Fiona Wood, burns surgeon, inventor, Australian of the Year and National Living Treasure.

Aussie STEM Stars: Celebrating scientists as heroes

The release of this book is part of the launch of the Aussie STEM Stars series… Aussie STEM Stars is an innovative and inspiring new series of narrative non-fiction biographies, written especially for upper primary readers.

Published by Wild Dingo Press, each book tells the story of a world-leading Australian scientist, from childhood through to the magnificent achievements that made them famous.

Were they smart?

Were they rich?

Was it easy for them to do what they did?

Writing the Fiona Wood biography for this series was just a sensational experience. I was so gobsmacked to have the opportunity to work with Fiona, to hear her story. And so nervous about the massive challenge and responsibility of doing justice to her story. What a huge job!!! To tell the true story of such an inspiring, important person. (Fiona would probably cringe to see me call her that, but it’s true!)

I worked really hard on this book, because I had to get it right. It’s not my story, and that makes it all the more vital to tell it well. All my fingers and toes are crossed hoping that I did a good job.

What does a good job entail? I want readers to come away inspired, encouraged, humbled, determined, excited and feeling braver than when they started. No small order, but I really hope that’s what we’ve achieved.

Recommended for 10- to 13-year-old readers….and their adults 🙂


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Happy National Science Week…and Girls Day Out in STEM!

National Science Week is here! Break out your bicarb and vinegar, sift through your worm farm, stare at the sky or explore in the water.

There are more than 500 online events and competitions to get involved in! Think lego, photography, podcasts, panels, sea slugs, recycling, beer brewing, robotics, astronomy, seed science and more.

You can search here for an event (online or in-person) near you. (I’ll see some of you during the week for BOOKED OUT science-meets-literacy events at schools and libraries…YAY!)

If you’re a girl aged 10-14, check out Sunday’s FREE and ENTIRELY ONLINE Girls Day Out In STEM. You need to register for a ticket, and there’s still time to get involved. (I’m presenting a masterclass on science communication – maybe I’ll see you there?)

And while we’re talking science, I had a super time at Melville Library on Thursday night talking the history of computing with some IT fans… I LOVED IT!

Thanks to Raino and Dominique for taking such great care of me, and to Heather and Rebs for bringing all the fans!

Countdown to Aussie STEM Stars!

And we’re only two weeks away from the launch of the Aussie STEM Stars series

I’ve been talking about Professor Fiona Wood all week in schools and libraries and I can’t wait for you all to be able to read her inspiring and uplifting story. It’s available now for pre-order in all good book stores.

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Which is more creative, the arts or the sciences?

I am so loving this research out of UniSA today, which answers the question:
Which is more creative, the arts or the sciences?

Research confirms creativity is key for both. And guess what? That means teaching creativity and innovation in our schools is more important than ever.

I’m a strong believer in teaching and fostering creativity, which is why I’m involved in the Creative Schools program again this year, why I work with schools everywhere to encourage innovative thinking and cross-disciplinary creativity.

The release from UniSA shows that international expert in creativity and innovation, UniSA’s Professor David Cropley, is calling for Australian schools and universities to increase their emphasis on teaching creativity.

New research shows creativity is a core competency across all disciplines and critical for ensuring future job success.

Conducted in partnership with visiting PhD researcher Kim van Broekhoven from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, the research explores the nature of creativity in determining if specific differences exist between creativity in the sciences and creativity in the arts.

The researchers found that creativity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is very similar to creativity in the arts, indicating that a holistic approach to teaching creativity in schools and universities, would benefit all.

UniSA’s Professor David Cropley says the study provides a valuable insight into how education systems might assess and foster students’ creative capabilities.

two sides of the brain - science and art

“The big change for education systems would be moving away from a rather fragmented and haphazard approach to teaching creativity, to a much more holistic and integrated approach,” Prof Cropley says.

“To prepare the next generation for the future, we need to understand the gaps in the market – the human skills that computers, artificial intelligence and automation cannot achieve – and this is where creativity fits.

“Until this research, we didn’t know whether creativity in STEM was the same as creativity in anything, or if there was something unique about creativity in STEM. If creativity was different in STEM – that is, it involved special attitudes or abilities – then we’d need to teach STEM students differently to develop their creativity.

“As it turns out, creativity is general in nature – it is essentially a multi-faceted competency that involves similar attitudes, disposition, skills and knowledge, all transferrable from one situation to another.

“So, whether you’re in art, maths or engineering, you’ll share an openness to new ideas, divergent thinking, and a sense of flexibility.

“This is great news for teachers, who can now confidently embrace and integrate heightened levels of creativity across their curriculum for the benefit of all students – whether STEM or arts based.”

The study surveyed 2277 German undergraduate students aged 17 to 37 (2147 enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses; and 130 enrolled in art courses), to explore how creativity differed in terms of self-expression thoughts and perceptions.

In 2020, the World Economic Forum identified creativity to be as important as artificial intelligence in the jobs of the future.

Professor Cropley is currently working with Geelong Grammar School (VIC), Trinity College (SA), and Glenunga International High School (SA) to further embed creativity into their schools.
Creativity and Innovation Coordinator, and education partner, Dr Tim Paston, says we cannot underestimate the importance of creativity in a digital world.

“Students in the 21st century must be open to the amazing diversity of possibilities available to them in further education and careers when they leave school. And, while every student will create their own unique path, a solid and common grounding that embraces creativity is essential,” Dr Paston says.

“Working with the University of South Australia, we’ve been able to truly embrace creativity as a core competency to ensure that our students not only succeed, but flourish.”

So what are you waiting for?

Get your kids, students and self into the groove of creativity.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Get used to not knowing the answers, because there are no answers.

Get used to asking questions, and finding new ways to explore and understand and solve those questions.

Get creative!


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Cover reveal! Fiona Wood: Inventor of spray-on skin

Fiona Wood cover 3D with spine-no backgroundI’ve been working with Professor Fiona Wood to tell the story of her life. Yep. You read that right. I can’t believe it myself.

About this time last year, Fiona graciously agreed to be part of a new series of narrative non-fiction biographies for ages 10+, telling the life stories of Australia’s STEM stars.

Published by Wild Dingo Press, the Aussie STEM Stars series follows inspiring Australians from their childhood battles to their modern-day triumphs. The series kicks off this September with three huge titles:

Aussie STEM Stars three coversFiona Wood: Inventor of spray-on skin, told by Cristy Burne

Georgia Ward-Fear: Reptile biologist and explorer, told by Claire Saxby

Munjed Al Muderis: From refugee to surgical inventor, told by Dianne Wolfer

Passion, courage, humanity, science

I’ve read all three of these Aussie STEM Star titles and they’re AMAZING! Incredible stories of ordinary people who decided to stand up for something, to do something, to live passionately and use their lives to make a difference by harnessing human energy, and by embracing science and technology.

I cannot begin to express how lucky I feel to have worked with Fiona on this book. I admired Fiona Wood before this book. Now I’ve lived and breathed and dreamed Fiona Wood, and I admire her even more. I’m absolutely in awe of her generosity and courage. She is a hero.

The first review is in!

And guess what? It’s by me.
Yes, I’m unashamedly reviewing a book I wrote. And I’m giving it five stars. Because we should all walk a mile in Fiona’s shoes.

“I think everyone who meets Fiona comes away affected and uplifted. It was an extraordinary honour to work with Fiona to tell her story, and I recommend everyone has the chance to read it. She’s a wonder!” Cristy Burne

(Disclaimer: Yes, I wrote the words in this book, but Fiona told the stories, and this is her life. It’s uplifting and inspiring, and adults and children alike will love it. Fiona is amazing.)

Cover and back copy LATEST

From defending the weak and fixing the broken to fighting for her chance to study medicine, the story of plastic surgeon and spray-on skin inventor Fiona Wood shows us the value of dreams, hard work and having the courage to do what is right.

An inspiring story of spirit and stamina, generosity and courage.

Pre-order it here.

Find out more about Fiona Wood and support her incredible work by checking out the Fiona Wood Foundation.

For more information on the book, head here.

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8 Gr8 story writing tips for young writers

banner-img03Want some Gr8 story writing tips for young writers? Want to get more creative with your writing?

Check out my eight great tips for young writers…

1: Give Yourself A Drum GRoll:

Writing is fun, but it’s also hard. If you sit down to make a fun story, you’re a legend. If you finish your story, you’re even more of a legend. You should be proud of yourself for writing. I’m proud of you. You’re basically a wizard.



2: Break The GRules:

Go wild with your writing. Be yourself. Surprise your readers. You are the only person who can be the World’s Leading Expert on What You Do, Who You Are and The Wild And Wacky Things You Want To Think Up.

3: Stick To The GRules:

You don’t have to reinvent the art of storytelling. Most stories follow the same rules (and yes, they are the narrative rules you learn at school), so bend the rules if you want, but also remember the rules if you ever get stuck. Having a problem, a complication, a resolution…all these things are part of a great story.

4: Don’t GRush:

Your ideas are AWESOME, so don’t rush them. If you have an idea you can’t wait to write down, force yourself to write it slowly: include all the little details. Don’t tell me he was stinky. Take time to write a scene that shows me how half the class fainted when he took off his socks.

5: Celebrate The GRepulsive:

Everyone has bad days or awful experiences or incredibly embarrassing moments. When these things happen to you, just say “Yes! Thank you!” and use them as fuel for your stories. Example: “Yes! Thank you leeches for sucking my blood!”

6: Do Your GResearch:

Amazing facts can fire up your fiction. If you’re ever stuck for what should happen next, try researching for some inspiration. Writing a comedy? Did you know flies vomit on their food before they eat it? Writing a dystopia? Maggots are being investigated as a future food. Writing a horror? Try flesh-eating maggot farms. Writing a romance? Don’t research flies.

inspiration 2015

7: Revise, Revise, GRevise:

When you’ve finished writing your story, give yourself a hug and at least a day’s break, then write it all again. (I know. This bit sucks. But it’s totally worth it if you want to be a GR8 writer.) Is your character’s goal clear? Have you shared how your character is feeling? Look for places you can add funny details, or sentences where you can choose more interesting words. Can you use dialogue to bring characters to life? Can you replace a simile as old as the sun with one that shines as fresh as a baboon’s bottom?

8: Read, Read, GRead:

Read what other writers are writing. The more you read, the easier it becomes to write the stories you love.

I hope this helps you with your story ideas and creative writing!!!


Happy GR8 story writing!

Download this as a PDF here: Cristy Burne GR8 Tips for Writing GR8 Short Stories

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How to Facebook Live: a checklist for dummies (and authors)

These last weeks and months have been a huge learning curve for me. With so many live author visits and writing festivals cancelled, I’ve instead had the opportunity to explore the world of online author visits, livefeed author talks and pre-recorded videos. It has been a crazy journey and I’ve learned a lot. Cristy Burne livefeed screen grab

Last night I did my first ever Facebook Live event, as part of #LitFest2444, a live festival in Port Macquarie that was revamped into an online festival. I was pretty nervous before the event, but it turned out to be loads of fun and it was great to get so many questions and comments and even emails giving positive feedback afterward (THANKYOU to everyone who came along!! xxxx)

I’m not a big Facebook fan, so getting a handle of how to use Facebook Live took loads of preparation. I’d like to share what I learned, in case it’s useful for you in your own online adventures:

So, you’re planning a Facebook Live event…

Below is the checklist I compiled and used for putting on my first Facebook Live event. I’m not a technical expert, so I recommend you go to Google to work out the finer details of how to manage these steps. However, this might be a good TO DO list for you to work through.


  • Workshops

    Check out other free #LitFest2444 sessions on their Facebook page

    Sort out your ‘set’: What do you want your viewers to see in the background? Include your books and your personality. Exclude your laundry piles and unwashed dishes.

  • Sort out your lighting: I invested in a ring light, for maximum beauty. This is because my office is basically a cave and it was an evening event (=no natural light). I also used a tripod for stability, and bluetac to get the phone to stand up straight (see if you can see my phone slowly tilt to one side in the replay…no, I’m not sinking)
  • Sort out your sound: I’m used to speaking to a live audience in a noisy space, so I was able to SPEAK LOUDLY and didn’t use a mike. Plus I was in a quiet place, so I think my sound worked okay. If you’re in a noisy space, look into using some sort of plug-in microphone.
  • Figure out what you’re going to talk about: Yep. An oldie but a goody. Don’t forget this all-important step.
  • Give your talk a compelling title: When you’re talking to your screen in a dark and lonely place, you want viewers to come flocking to your feed, so giving it a cool title can help. I went with 5 ways you can use science and technology to super-charge your creative writing. Word on the web is that using “An odd number of ways to snare viewers’ attention” is a good formula. (What do you think? Does it work?)
  • Write victory from the jaws of defeatPromote your event beforehand. #Litfest2444 set up the livefeed as a Facebook event from their Facebook page, and then we shared the event to our networks starting weeks before.
  • Promote it again: Closer to D-day, remind people that your livefeed will be happening. Maybe use your phone to film a super-short video with a bit of a teaser. (For example, this is my promo-video for this session.)
  • Work out how you want to broadcast: I chose to broadcast via my phone, mostly because this felt simpler. You can also broadcast using your computer, but it’s a bit trickier. Given it was my first time, I went with Ye Olde Principle of KISS: Keep It Simple, Stinkbug.
  • Set up a test Facebook Live feed: This is well worth it. Facebook lets you do a livefeed just to yourself (on purpose, though). Or, you can make a private group specifically for testing purposes, then invite your co-collaborators to join the group, invite them to your test event, and go live just to the people in your private group. I did these tests and it was well worth it. You can suss out your internet speed, your camera orientation, your lighting, the lag in response time, how commenting might work, etc. Plus you get to experience the truly odd feeling of talking to your screen as if it’s a living, breathing, laughing, book-loving person. Or worse, talking to a picture of yourself talking to yourself as if you’re a living, breathing, laughing…. You get the idea. Either way, it can be truly unnerving experience and it’s good to get a feel for it before you’re in front of an unknown audience.


  • Set up your viewer-experience device (I used my laptop): Having this second device allows you to see what your viewers will see. Just log in to your Facebook page and load up your event page. This is so you can see your own broadcast. You can also use your computer to share your live event once it’s started.
  • Set up your recording device (I used my phone): See above re KISS.
  • Set up your lights and your tech: Make sure you have all the extension cords and charging cords where you want them to be (AKA plugged in, so they don’t cut out halfway through)
  • Mute notifications, children, dogs, posties: This is a valuable but not always possible step. Don’t forget: disasters can also have comedy value.
  • Check your phone settings: Make sure your phone can rotate to landscape or portrait and choose which one you’ll use.


  • Turn on your lights.
  • Plug in your phone, chargers, etc
  • Log into Facebook, go to your event page, click “Write a Post”, click “Go Live” (you won’t go live when you click this, so don’t worry)
  • Type in a description of your livefeed – feel free to use emojis 🙂
  • Click START (now you will go live, so don’t pick your nose).

It is seriously that easy (and that dangerous :-)). You get about three seconds from when you hit that START button to when you’re LIVE.

And you will be live, even though it doesn’t feel like it. Like, nobody introduces you, nobody claps…but you just need to start anyway 🙂


  • Welcome people to your video.
  • Tell them what your video is going to be about and why it might be useful.
  • Tell them who you are and why you might be worth listening to.
  • Encourage people to share the livecast, to like the post or hit the smiley faces whenever they feel like it, to make comments and ask questions.
  • I like to do an Acknowledgement of Country and a call-out to our nation’s first and best storytellers.
  • Kick into your content!


Insert riveting and useful content here.


  • Summary: Sum up what you’ve said and what you hope your viewers have got out of it.
  • Call to action: Is there something you want your viewers to do? To get creative? To try a new writing technique? To enter a writing competition? To give you feedback so you can improve for next time? Now’s a good time to ask.
  • Thank viewers for joining: Seriously. I felt so grateful to the people who had stayed and watched and asked questions and played along. At this point, I felt like I’d climbed Everest and wanted to give a huge thankyou to the amazing viewers who’d climbed it with me.
  • Wait five seconds: Wait a bit before you end your feed, to make up for any lag. Don’t spend this five seconds drinking wine or staring into space.
  • Hit the button: Somewhere on the app there’s a button that ends your livefeed. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s obvious and you’ll find it easily, and I’m guessing you’ll be mightily relieved to hit it. I was 🙂


  • Click “Share”: Share your livefeed video so it will be publicly available for replay viewers.
  • Choose life: You can go into your Videos tab and choose a still from the video that doesn’t show you with zombie eyes or that weird grimace thing you do when you’re talking.
  • Respond to comments: Hopefully you’ll have lots of comments and questions during your livefeed, but you may not have time to answer them all. After my live event had ended, I went back through the comments so I could respond to people personally. It was a good way to wind down, and also a way to thank viewers for tuning in.

So that’s it…that’s the checklist I used for my first-ever Facebook Live author event. I’m 100% certain it’s not a definitive list, and there are many things I probably did wrong. But, it took me ages to pull it all together and I hope that by sharing it I can maybe save you a bit of time (and give you a bit of confidence to do your own Facebook Live events!).

If you have any other hot tips for doing a great Facebook Live session, please pop them in the comments.

I still have SO MUCH TO LEARN and I’d love to keep improving by skills in this brave new world of online engagement.

Thank you!!! And good luck!

PS: You can see the finished product here.

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Get online! Tips, tricks, writing competitions and inspiration

If you’re a keen writer (or  know a keen writer), it’s pretty much your wildest-dreams, writerly-smorgasbord on the internet right now. There’s just so much to learn, do, practice and be inspired by, and the coming weeks are no exception.

If you’re keen to hang out online, have a question you’d love answered, want inspiration for your own writing journey, or just want to see inside my house, now is your chance!

Wednesday May 13 4.30pm WST


Perfect for young writers who want to write strong short stories

Grab your free tickets here. Link will be sent out 2 hours prior to the event.

[Do you live in South Perth and have a story you just LOVE? Why not enter the South Perth Young Writers Awards. Entries close 1 June]

Cristy Burne Literature Champion

Monday May 18  5-6pm WST

Using Science to Inspire Creative Writing

Write victory from the jaws of defeat


As part of the incredible-but-cancelled-due-to-COVID19 Literary Festival Extravaganza that is #LitFest2444, check out my workshop:

Science, creativity, and other ways to write victory from the jaws of defeat.

Go to the #LitFest2444 Facebook event page for more information.

[And guess what? I’m not the only artist #LitFest2444 are making available online… These workshops are perfect for teen writers and creators]

Connecting Through Creativity

Scribblers Festival: Connecting Through Creativity entries due 26 June


Want to win $500 in prizes? Scribblers Festival is challenging you to get creative with visual storytelling to explore the topic of CONNECTIVITY during the global COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

I’ll be there to inspire you and guide you through the process, along with three other amazing creative mentors, James Foley, Remy Lai and Beci Orpin.

Do you have a question on creativity, connectivity (or anything else that starts with ‘c’)(what’s that? you have a question that starts with a different letter?… …. … Well, okay, send that too!) that you’d love us to answer? Send it through!

Armadale Young Writers Awards

Armadale Young Writer’s Awards: entries due 30 June 2020


Do you live in or around Armadale? Enter the Armadale Young Writer’s Awards. This creative writing competition is open to students in Years 3 to 12 who reside or attend school in the City of Armadale.

I was lucky enough to meet last year’s winners and read their work…it was AWESOME! I’d love to work with you on your entry this year.

To help you out, I’ll be making a couple of videos to answer your questions and give you a boost!

How many questions can you send? As many as you can think of! Go for it! Email your questions now!


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Shout-out to Australia’s first astronomers on International Astronomy Day

On this International Astronomy Day, let’s have a shout-out for our First Peoples, and all those incredible Aboriginal astronomers who passed down knowledge over tens of thousands of years.

Early Aboriginal astronomers could identify thousands of stars by name. They used this knowledge of the sky to predict changing seasons, tides, and navigate country. Several Aboriginal cultures recorded comets and meteors, or had accurate theories about solar and lunar eclipses. Some researchers believe their astronomical observations might pre-date Egypt’s pyramids and England’s Stonehenge.

“There’s lots of depth and complexity in Aboriginal cultures, lots of great intellectual achievements,” says CSIRO astrophysicist Ray Norris, who studies Aboriginal astronomy. “We have a lot to learn from the Aboriginal people.”

“Many of these stories have been lost,” he says, “but let’s try and make sure we record what there is.”

Double Helix Indigenous astronomy

The Emu in the Sky

Next time you’re in the bush during autumn or winter, wait till night falls, then stare up at the twinkling stars of the Milky Way. Now look between the stars, into the dark spaces… Can you see the Emu in the Sky? It’s a massive emu-shaped patch of darkness known to Aboriginal people all across Australia.

“It’s the most amazing sight,” says Ray. “It’s enormous, and completely different from the European constellations.”

We now know the Emu in the Sky exists because of molecule clouds floating through the galaxy, blocking the star light. “Those dark spaces are where stars are being born,” says Ray.

The Wurdi Youang stones

The Wathaurung people built the Wurdi Youang stone ring in what is now Victoria, perhaps thousands of years ago. They carefully arranged around 100 stones into a 50-metre-long egg shape, oriented almost exactly East-West. The stones mark the position on the horizon where the Sun sets on equinoxes and solstices.

Equinox or solstice? Twice a year, the Earth’s equator aligns with the centre of the Sun, making the day is exactly as long as the night. Modern astronomers call these two days the equinoxes. The solstices are the longest and shortest days of the year.

Orion and the 7 Sisters

Can you find Orion, the hunter, in the sky? Aboriginal stories often link the constellation of Orion with a male hunter or fisherman, just like European stories.

What about Pleiades’ seven sisters? In most Aboriginal cultures, the stars of Pleiades are female, just like European stories. And Aboriginal and European stories both mention seven sisters, which is strange. You might see four, six, or even eight sister stars, but never seven.

“You get these same stories, right throughout the world,” says Ray. “Why should Orion be male and the Seven Sisters be female? The stories all say there are seven sisters, and there aren’t.”

So why are these stories so similar? Ray believes the answer may be that the stories were first told more than 100,000 years ago, before the first humans left Africa.

Want more Aboriginal astronomy?

This story originally appeared in CSIRO’s Double Helix magazine, (c) CSIRO. For more on Aboriginal astronomy check out

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Takeshita Demons celebrate 10 years…and Hashimoto Monsters are go!

Are you all by yourself right now? Then it’s time to party!!!

It’s party time…all by ourselves!

Let’s celebrate my TEN-YEAR BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!!

It has been ten years since the Takeshita Demons series — my debut books! — were published. They met with (what I think is) astounding success, winning a prize, featuring on the BBC’s Blue Peter, being selected for a UK-wide BookTrust promotion, published into five countries and translated into two other languages.

To celebrate, I’m re-releasing all three books and adding a bonus fourth book (set underwater in the realm of the Dragon King). These books are best for kids aged 8 to 12 who like adventure and ghost stories/Goosebumps. They’re also great for anyone who loves Japan and Japanese mythology.

A new name, a new look

3Dcovers Hashimoto Monsters

Hashimoto Monsters

After ten years, I felt the text needed refreshing and I also wanted to try for an easier-to-pronounce title (Seriously, noone knows how to say Takeshita :-)]

So I gave the text a spritz and I gave Miku a new surname: Hashimoto. (Takeshita means “under the bamboo” while Hashimoto means “under the bridge”.)

The result? Hashimoto Monsters.

I hope a whole new generation of readers will enjoy being part of Miku’s adventures.

For now I’m just making these books available digitally, which means you can grab a copy from any online bookstore, including Amazon, Amazon Australia and Smashwords.

And since we’re all going through tough times right now, I’m making the first book FREE and heavily discounting the others HERE for a limited time.

Teaching notes and activities

Want some teaching notes and activities to go with the books? Head HERE.


Reviews for the series

“A gripping, superbly written debut novel” – Writeaway

“Two young girls being brave and clever without a hint of pink or glitter on the cover? Hooray!” – The Age

“Perfect for those that like their monsters gross rather than gory” – Inis Magazine, Ireland

A thrilling contemporary adventure wittily shot through with the powerful fantasy stories of the old demons from the Japanese past.”  – Julia Eccleshare of LoveReading4Kids

“A compulsive read.” – Parents in Touch UK

“One of my favourite series for younger, confident readers.” – My Favourite Book Blog

“A trio of whirling weasel assassin spirits with Freddy Krueger–style claws ambush a Japanese-British child on an abandoned farm. Whoo-hoo!” –  Kirkus Reviews

I really liked the first 2 instalments, but I LOVE this one!..Like Spirited Away combined with a Famous Five camaraderie” – GoodReads

“This is one to give to the adventure loving nine or ten year old kid who likes being a little scared–some of the demons are more than somewhat frightening (although there’s no goryness).” – Charlotte’s Library


Want to know more about Japanese monsters?

Japanese monsters are better known as yokai (妖怪) and they’re awesome!!

There are monsters to clean your bathroom, monsters to tickle the back of your neck, monsters that go bump in the night… Yokai have featured in Japanese fairy tales, folklore and mythology for centuries. Scholars have been cataloguing yokai species in encyclopedias and databases since the 1770s.

But yokai are far from old news. They’re a hugely popular part of Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and manga and they feature in everything from bank advertisements to sushi bars. Last month I chatted with Will Yeoman for an article on yokai for The West Australian on just this very topic.

Check out the yokai featured in Hashimoto Monsters Book 1Book 2 and Book 3.



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International ‘Ask A Question’ Day

The world is full of questions at the moment, more so than ever. Thank goodness we have science and creativity to help answer them.

Ever heard of International ‘Ask A Question’ Day? Science is all about asking questions and finding answers, and there are so many questions to choose from.

For CSIRO’s Double Helix magazine, I asked some of Australia’s top scientists about the questions they’d most like to see answered…

Fiona Wood: “Can we think ourselves whole?”

Professor Fiona Wood is Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia and has worked for 20 years as a burns surgeon and researcher. She invented spray-on skin for treating burns, was 2005 Australian of the Year, and is an Australian Living Treasure.

“There is so much information all around us but how do we know what is right, true, useful and how do we craft that knowledge into a solution?

“I have so many unknowns that keep driving me forward. Why do we scar and not regenerate tissues to the original form and function? Why does a burn injury have a lifelong impact?

“Where do I find the answers? Working across disciplines bringing many minds to solve the problem is key.

“I want to understand the role of the nervous system, the brain and all the nerves, in controlling self-organisation of tissue to drive a regenerative pattern. Ultimately – can we think ourselves whole???”

Brian Schmidt: “Is there life on other planets?”

Professor Brian P. Schmidt won a 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. He’s an astrophysicist (and Vice Chancellor) at the Australian National University.

“I would like to find out if there is life on other planets, and if so, how many planets have life.

“Life on Earth is amazing, but trying to imagine what life might be across the Universe is even more amazing.

“Over the coming 10 to 20 years, we will, with the next generation of telescopes, be able to look at many exo-planet atmospheres, and see the tell-take signs of life, if it exists.

“Who knows what we will find?”

Mary-Anne Williams: “Will we ever understand consciousness?”

Professor Mary-Anne Williams is Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory (AKA the Magic Lab) at University of Technology Sydney. She’s an expert on disruptive innovation, loves to turn science fiction into reality, and is one of Robohub’s Top 25 Women in Robotics.

“There are millions of questions about consciousness that don’t have an answer.

“Imagine being a cat for a day. What would it feel like to wiggle ears on the top of your head and to have retractable claws instead of fingers?

“I wonder how our mind and body work together to create human experiences. How do they make us feel happy, sad, anxious and excited? How do they create perceptions of reality that feel so real?

“For example, pain is not real, it’s a perception created by our minds, so how does feel so hurtful? How do the neurons in our brain create our thoughts, likes, dislikes, desires and imagination? I build robots to try to find out.”

What’s your big question this International ‘Ask A Question’ Day?

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