story, science, technology and creativity

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“Remarkable and timely” “funny and informative”: reviews that make me smile

It’s only a week till I blast off with Russ the Bus into Newcastle and Gosford.
Wooo hoo! I can’t wait!

I’m really looking forward to meeting hundreds of kids and teachers and having a fantabulous time!

It’s also only five weeks till Christmas (!!!???!!!)

If you’re wondering how to give the gift that keeps on giving, give a book to a child you love.

And if you need some book suggestions, I humbly (not so humbly? :-)) present two recent reviews, below. (Want more book recommendations for kids? Check out this amazing event at the State Library of WA.)

Writers spend a lot of time alone in our own heads. We’re always wondering if what we’re writing will ever be read, or liked, or used to help inspire readers to live bigger, braver, more informed lives.

So THANK YOU to all of you who take the time to review our work and help get our stories and ideas into the hands of the young people we write them for.


And now, on with the book reviews… 🙂

Magpies review.JPGZeroes & Ones (2018)
In Magpies magazine

Despite its catchy title and attractive cover featuring a squat, colourful, friendly robot, it is the subtitle The geeks, heroes and hackers who changed history that really best sum up this remarkable and timely book.

Within its five detailed chapters, information is fed to the reader in a series of compact, information-rich fact boxes, with the author’s amusing, hip writing style being sure to resonate with young, switched-on readers.

She reminds them that this is their future and encourages and challenges them to decide how they are going to carry on the digital revolution which they will inherit.

It introduces and outlines the motivations of all the major players to date (e.g. Turing, Jobs, Assange, Zuckerberg, etc.) but more importantly explains how and why the inventions and computer advances which have developed in the last few decades have grown into the overarching behemoth of technology which we all share today.

The unusual combination of colours (black writing of difference sizes and fonts presented on alternating white and yellow background) is striking, and the few illustrations of photographs which accompany the text serve mainly to break up the information and occasionally to simply clarify.

Readership? As well as the obvious group—upper primary and lower secondary readers of both sexes—I would recommend this captivating book to everyone who has held a digital device of any kind in the past twenty years!

This intriguingly delightful book is utterly absorbing—and every so slightly scary!

Highly recommended.

Russ Merrin

Kids Reading Guide review

Off The Track (2018)
In Kids Book Review

Harry thinks he’s in for the worst weekend ever when he has to go hiking and camping. No phone to play with?!

Little does he know of the fun, scary, crazy adventure that awaits!

This is a funny and informative story about getting away from it all.

Kids Book Review 


Thank you!!!! And wish me luck with Russ the Bus!


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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 😊