story, science, technology and creativity

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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.)


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Busy, busy…and the science of stunt doubles

It’s August! August is home to National Science Week and Children’s Book Week, so naturally it’s my favourite month of the year 🙂

It’s also busy, so I’ve been looking into the possibility of cloning myself, or at least, hiring someone who looks like me and can cook and clean as badly.

the science of stunt doubles

Can’t spot the difference? That’s because of science

This article, called Double Take, appeared in Helix magazine, and it dashes all my hopes of hiring my own stunt double. Unless we’re seen around 15-second apart, it won’t really work :-/

Double Take

Movie stars may be hired for their looks and skills, but stunt doubles are hired to jump from helicopters, fall from cliffs and explode from burning buildings.

A star and stunt double can have very different faces, so why can’t you tell them apart?

Researcher Alina Liberman found the answers are all in your head.

She says your brain deliberately blurs recently seen images in a process called perceptual pull, which helps you to recognise familiar faces.

If we didn’t have this bias of seeing a face as the same from one moment to the next, our perception of people would be very confusing,” says Alina. “For example, a friend or relative would look like a completely different person with each turn of the head or change in light and shade.”

Thanks to perceptual pull, your brain morphs the effect of changing viewpoints, different lighting, blur and noise into a single idea of a particular face.

The connections it makes are especially strong when you see two or three similar faces within a 15-second time frame.

Alina tested perceptual pull in a study where participants had to pick a face that best matched a target face. Every time, they selected a face that combined the two target faces they’d most recently seen.

Here are some of the stunt doubles I’ve considered:

Baby me

Baby me

Man me

Man me

Manga me

Hmmmm. Disturbing. I think I’ll just have to stop messing around on the internet and start doing some work instead 🙂 Happy August everyone!


Children’s Book Week 2013…”Now I know how to kill monsters”

Children’s Book Week is nearly over for 2013…I’m having a ball, visiting schools and libraries almost every day this month! Phew!

It makes it so much fun when the kids I’m talking to have such great imaginations, and the libraries they visit are so amazingly decorated, and their teachers play along with my jokes  (thanks!)…YAY!

And, check out the lovely fan mail: “Now I know how to kill monsters”

….and isn’t that what reading is all about!

Three cheers for Children’s Book Week!

Come see my head! Children’s Book Week 2013 at Riverton Library

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Come see my head!READ AROUND THE WORLD and celebrate Children’s Book Week 2013 with a free event at Riverton Library!

MONDAY 19 AUGUST: 4-5.15
6-12 year olds
A drawing workshop with talented illustrator Gabriel Evans (check out this guy’s work!)

7-10 year olds
Meet author Chris Owen and find out what makes a real superhero!

4 years+
Zoom, zoom, zoom with starry storyteller Clare Stace on an imaginary space adventure!

8 years+
ME! Come along, meet my head, hear some spooky stories about monsters of the world and ask a bazillion questions about writing, getting your books published, and finding ideas in the strangest places.

I’d love to see you there!

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Children’s book week: We love you Geraldton!

ImageI had the *BEST* time in Geraldton this week…

I was up there as a guest of the Geraldton City Library, and I feel so lucky to have been part of the Children’s Book Week celebrations. Everyone was SO welcoming and friendly (and energetic! They regularly attract more than 40 kids to RhymeTime!!).

[And newsflash: If you want a great seaside holiday combined with a terrific writing festival, book a weekend at Geraldton Library’s action-packed Big Sky 2013: it’s going to be great!!]

My visit was super-busy but very smooth: Thanks to the team of librarians for driving me here, there and everywhere, to the teachers for reading my books to their classes, to the school librarians for their gorgeous welcome displays, and to all the entire classrooms of kids for their great questions and great ideas. I came away Very Impressed Indeed!

As part of the week I also spoke on a panel at Nagle Catholic College‘s annualImage Girls’ Afternoon Tea, where I shared the couch with a Nagle student, a Nagle mum and two fresh, funny Nagle English teachers.

The afternoon was DELICIOUS and I had lots of fun. There was lots of audience participation, with students sharing their favourite books, their booky questions and their booky experiences. What a great idea! Well done everyone who participated!

Heads at John Willcock collegeI was also lucky enough to be able to speak at the Randolph Stow Young Writers Awards, which received more than 600 entries this year! Well done everyone!

It was so exciting to see all the nervous young writers accept their prizes (YAY!), and then to see them afterwards, when the pressure was off and the nerves were gone. I really thought some of them might fly out the door, they were so happy (and rightly so!) Great work everyone who entered and keep up the good work! Keep entering competitions!!

I also have to mention the terrific job that John Willcock College did in hosting the award ceremony for this year’s Randolph Stow Young Writer’s Awards. Their staff and student council were extremely welcoming and professional, with students doing a brilliant job of reading some of the winning entries. Thanks to everyone who helps to sponsor the awards: it’s thanks to opportunities like this that young writers, speakers and actors get a chance to shine.

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Kicking off Children’s Book Week 2013!

To kick off Children’s Book Week month for 2013 I spent a couple of days Down South, doing workshops and presentations at Charthouse Primary School and Clifton Park Primary School…it was GREAT FUN!

And although I forgot my camera at Charthouse Primary School, I remembered it at Clifton Park Primary School. Even better, Clifton Park had the most AMAZING Japanese classroom. Check out some of the photos…it was like stepping into an Inspiration Station for Things Japanese. YAY!

Thanks to everyone who looked after me and made me feel so welcome, and to all the kids for their great and crazy, wonderful and weird ideas. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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Hello Franken-kitty, zombies, and Champions Read! Thanks for Children’s Book Week!

Children’s Book Week is drawing to a close for me…just one more day of visits. BOO HOO 😦

I had SO MUCH FUN hanging out with you guys…I really hope you put all of your crazy spooky ideas into new stories and new illustrations. Here are a few photos from my week: I wish I’d remembered to take more shots!
Enjoy…and see you next time!

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The truth about slenderman, puppies and noppera-bo…

Slender crossed with a nukekubi yokai

A cross between a nukekubi, a nopperabo and slenderman?

And now you’re scaring me!

As part of Children’s Book Week I spent today in the City of Stirling, where I was amused to hear the scary story of Slenderman is alive and well.

All week, whenever I mention a noppera-bo, kids have been sticking up their hands to ask: ” Have you heard of Slender?”


Well. I hadn’t.

But then, it turns out, he’s virtually a home-grown spooky story.

In fact, he appears to have been photographed at City of Stirling Libraries (see the photo of kids on the slide),  which is hilarious, but also spooky!

The truth about Slender?

The story goes (according to Roger, City of Stirling librarian) (Hi Roger!), that the photograph is a kooky fake that just happens to have ripped off the City of Stirling logo.  Apparently people from all over the world have been writing in to ask permission to reproduce the image. (Pity no one asked permission to use their logo in the first place!)

Still. It is funny. And it goes to show: you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. (Especially since anyone who saw me this week will know: it’s not slender. It’s a yokai cross-hybrid-thingy, part nukekubi, part noppera-bo. And it probably likes to eat puppies.)




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Children’s Book Week! Competitions! Singapore! Science! Literacy!

Melville Civic Square Library artYAY! It’s my favourite time of year: Children’s Book Week!

That means stacks of exciting stuff is happening at your local library. Pop in and ask about storytelling sessions, meeting your favourite authors, literacy workshops, and more.

Children’s Book Week..Am I heading your way?

For me that means August is chocka-block with school and library visits. I get to scare heaps of kids, and make them laugh, and inspire them to get writing and drawing (and if you like to draw, like the kids at Melville’s Civic Square Library, check out our MONSTER drawing and art competition for young writers and artists).

I’ll be at libraries across Melville, Kwinana, Girrawheen, Osborne Park, Scarborough, Bentley, South Perth and Bayswater. I hope to see you there!

State Library of Queensland and the Brisbane Writers Festival: Online Literature Festival

If you live in Queensland, you’re in luck!

Schools across Queensland can do workshops with children’s writers and illustrators as part of the Online Literature Festival for FREE!

Heaps of awesome writers and illustrators will be there, and you get to ask them questions and hear them talk, all from the comfort of your classroom. Easy!

Check out the timetable to book: Jackie French and Andy Griffiths are booked out, but you can see heaps of other great talent (including me :-)).

Teacher’s PD workshops: Science and literacy

Since I’m a bizarre hybrid of science-writer and demon-writer, I’m also keen to share ideas on using science, history and culture to inspire fictional writing. This means I talk a lot about using non-fiction to inspire fiction, and what better way to do it than with a hands-on teacher’s workshop.

I’m offering this workshop (free!) as part of the Online Literature Festival: the focus is on concrete ways to combine science and literacy in the classroom:

Cristy Burne will talk about ways to combine science and literacy in the classroom. With degrees in science and science communication and experience in science writing and fiction writing, Cristy has a wealth of ideas to share with teachers. Cristy will demonstrate a few cheap and easy classroom experiments then talk about ways to involve literacy skills in the activity.

Words Go Round 2013: Singapore Writers Festival

And I am thrilled to announce that I’ll also be part of the incredible Words Go Round festival as part of the Singapore Writers Festival in 2013.

The festival features international and Singaporean writers, writing in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, and it’s all organised for young writers and readers.

I can’t wait!!

Happy Children’s Book Week everyone!


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More from Childrens Book Week

Can you pick the severed head?

Willetton Library Burrendah Primary students for Childrens Book Week Another great day for Childrens Book Week…thanks everybody!

I was really happy to get this picture of some of the Burrendah Primary kids at Willetton Library today with their 2-fruit and 5-vege *and* a severed head. Awesome!

And I’m also stoked with this great review of Filth Licker on the Spine Chills blog. YAY!!!

Below is a taste of the review: you can show it to your parents to prove that there isn’t any really horrible stuff  in Takeshita Demons, just spooky bathroom-cleaning stuff ;-))

“one of the rare horror stories that you can safely hand to younger readers without fear of threats from angry parents, but at the same time is genuinely packed full of spooky stuff. This is a series that is both highly original and wonderfully entertaining”