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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Takeshita Demons in Read it! magazine: Encouraging reading for all ages

Takeshita Demons adventure for ages 8-12 review in Read it MagazineRead it!

YAY! Takeshita Demons was recently featured in Read it! magazine, put out by Books etc and Published World to encourage reading for all ages.

The Read it! magazine is FREE and part of a fundraising scheme for UK schools, where 5% of total book purchases goes back to the school.

Win prizes, read reviews

There are heaps of cool prizes you can win, puzzles, articles, author interviews and more. This issue includes articles on World Book Day, dyslexia action, Reading for Life and more. Plus you can win DVDs and books and read some great reviews.

Here’s what Read it! said:

Takeshita Demons – Cristy Burne (aged 8-12)

Takeshita Demons has done amazingly well. In 2010 it was the winner of the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Childrens Book Award and featured on the BBC’s Blue Peter in 2011.

We cannot wait for Cristy’s next book, the Filth Licker, which will be coming out in June 2011 so keep an eye out for it!

When Miku Takeshita moves from Osaka to London, she thinks she has left her grandmother’s strange world of spirits and demons far behind. But then her little brother falls strangely ill and a freak snowstorm arrives along with a fox-mouthed supply teacher.

Suddenly, Miku and her best friend Cait are facing off with faceless demons and on the run from flying heads. Alone and stuck at school after-dark, they must use all their cunning to stay alive.

A thrilling adventure for younger readers, Takeshita Demons weaves Japanese mythology and culture into a gripping tale of good versus evil.


What inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved reading and making up stories. One day I had an idea about a superhero who had a pet giraffe, so I just sat down and started writing. That was the first book I ever wrote.

Now I get inspiration from everyday life: I keep a notebook in my pocket and write down story ideas and ‘what ifs’ whenever they pop into my head. For example, today I went to the zoo and wrote down: What if humans were kept in an alien zoo? And: what if I had a tail like a spider monkey? Inspiration to write can come from almost anywhere.

You can see that Japanese mythology has clearly inspired you in both the books, how did this inspiration come about?

I lived in Japan for three years and kept seeing signs of Japanese mythology in everyday life. For example, in restaurants it is common to find food that Japanese demons like to eat, like kappa-maki sushi (the favourite of a half-turtle water-demon who likes to drink blood and eat cucumbers) or kitsune udon (because shape-changing foxes just can’t resist noodles served with deep-fried tofu). That’s like going to a restaurant and ordering vampire sandwiches or werewolf pie.

— YAY! —

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Another review of Takeshita Demons in The West

If you enjoy reading manga and graphic novels you’ll love this debut book by Perth author Cristy Burne.

The first in a trilogy of stories, Takeshita Demons is a sometimes gruesome tale about a young girl called Miku and her family who cannot seem to escape their Japanese demons. Miku and her friend Cait have to face Nukekubi, a bloodthirsty demon who has a habit of losing her head just before devouring little children.

Takeshita Demons has that unique look of a manga novel that would appeal to its readers. Suitable for brave young readers but be warned — do not read late at night.

Year 4+

Reviewed by Heather Zubek


The terrific top three books for January: Blue Peter Book Club

And the terrific top three books for January are:

Takeshita Demons

Xtreme X-Ray

Madame Pamplemousse and the Time Travelling Café


This is what Blue Peter said about Takeshita Demons:
“Do you like floating heads and evil spirits? Then you will love this horror adventure!

Spooky demons invade Miku’s school and kidnap her brother Kazu. Can she and her best friend Cait rescue him?

Let your imagination run wild and feel the adventure come alive through the vivid pictures.”

Dare to peek? Download a PDF Takeshita Demons sneak peek.

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8 bits of great news: HOORAY!

Keukegen demonLong time – no post! But I have heaps of great news to make up for it:

GREAT NEWS #1: Takeshita Demons and The Filth Licker are being translated into Indonesian! YAY!

GREAT NEWS #2: I’m performing at the Perth Writer’s Festival on Family Day: YAY! More details soon…

GREAT NEWS #3: I’m also appearing at the 2011 All Saint’s College Literature Festival. YAY!

GREAT NEWS #4: I’m getting heaps of fan mail from readers who love Takeshita Demons AND those with advance copies of Filth Licker…YAY!!

GREAT NEWS #5: I’m totally booked out for Children’s Book Week 2011 (in August!)…and there are more bookings coming for school hols YAY!

GREAT NEWS #6: I’ve had some great ideas for finishing off Monster Matsuri (Takeshita Demons book 3) and that will be rip roaring to my editor by year end

GREAT NEWS #7: The first review of Filth Licker is up: “some shocking twists and a fantastically involving story…” YAY!

GREAT NEWS #8: I spoke to a group of Year 9s and 10s at the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre last week about Japanese yokai, mythology, history and how it informed and inspired Takeshita Demons. They were a great group and we had lots of laughs. Plus I got to eat proper Japanese bakery goods AND a scrummy bento. YUM!


So all-in-all a terrific few weeks…Super busy! And this week is the SCBWI WA Christmas Party too, so everything is happening at once. I *LOVE* hanging out with other people who love childrens books!

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IBBY review of Takeshita Demons:

…For full text of the review, please scroll to bottom of post…

Thanks to the International Board on Books for Young People, or IBBY, and reviewer Anna Warren, for this ace review of Takeshita Demons.

“…exactly the kind of story the children in my class would love…”

“The pace is just right, and the language is accessible.”

“It’s great reading a children’s book that includes aspects of Japanese culture.”

YAY! 🙂
(I only wish they had got my name right (Cristy Burne not Cristy Burns) because when you Google Cristy Burns or Christie Burns you get models, musicians and Facebook pages, but not authors. I include this note in the hope that Google will realise and amend.)(Please?)

Full text:

This well-written book is exactly the kind of story the children in my class would love. I teach Year 4. I am taking the same set of children up to Year 5 in September and will definitely use Takeshita Demons as a class-focus text. I have already taught a unit on Japan, with captured their imagination.

This story contains all the basic elements that children aged 8-10 would find engaging:  a familiar school setting, a child they can identify with, but with the added surprise interest of a Japanese cut-throat demon! The pace is just right, and the language is accessible. All the Japanese language references are correct, and the author has backed them up with translations that flow with the narrative.  There seems to be more Japanese at the beginning of the story, which tends to tail off towards the end as the action picks up. The book initially reminded me of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, a link which children are likely to make. The children in my class will love the simple, graphic manga-style illustrations in the book.  The illustrations definitely add an extra appeal. I also like the fact that the author has included appendices explaining the history of Japanese demons, as well as the kanji characters.

It’s great reading a children’s book that includes aspects of Japanese culture. This is something I’ve not come across before. I think the author has done a brilliant job of referencing all the relevant cultural traditions, such as taking shoes off when entering a Japanese person’s home.

What I thought was very interesting was the reference to Japanese people preferring not to make big displays of affection like hugging (p.59). However, as a Japanese family, the Takeshitas are not pigeonholed. They are as happy eating pizza as they are tempura or noodles.

Anna Warren (Primary school teacher and graduate of Japanese)

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Takeshita Demons reviewed in The West Australian

This rollicking ride by Perth-based author Cristy Burne is totally deserving of the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices award for 2009.

Take a young Japanese girl, Miku, who is protected by her Baba, and the family’s zashiki-warashi, move her to England and watch out for the demons who have followed her and her family.

This exciting, intriguing story is aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds but captures adult attention very quickly.

This is not a happy book about ‘teddy bears and bunny rabbits’, more about a Japanese teenage Lara Croft. Watch out for the next in the series.
Takeshita Demons book review in West Australian

This awesome review of Takeshita Demons was in Tuesday’s West Australian newspaper.

Thanks to the terrific team at Writing WA!

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Takeshita Demons reviewed in The Age

Japanese culture has influenced this first instalment in what is set to be a trilogy of books featuring Japanese character Miku and her family.

Debut Australian author Cristy Burne has lived for several years in Japan, where she grew interested in the local folklore; she now lives in Perth but curiously chose to set her trilogy in England. The book features black-and-white manga-style illustrations by UK illustrator Siku.

Twelve-year-old Miku narrates the story, which beings with her family’s move to England – followed by some yokai or demons. Then her substitute teacher turns out to be a child-eater, her little brother gets abducted,  and a dragon woman suggests Miku has powers of her own – obviously to be discovered in book two. Miku and her best friend, Cait, battle the bad guys.

Two young girls being brave and clever without a hint of pink or glitter on the cover? Hooray!
Takeshita Demons reviewed in The AgeWith thanks to the fabulous Meg McKinlay for the heads-up


One of “summer’s best children’s books”

YAY…More reviews are coming in and the news is good 🙂 People are enjoying Takeshita Demons 🙂 YAY!!!!

There’s a fab review of Takeshita Demons up at PaperTigers: Lovely highlights below:

Takeshita Demons will have readers on the edges of their seats…
Cristy Burne has created a fast-paced story full of suspense…
Takeshita Demons
is likely to become a hit…

AND…Takeshita Demons was recently reviewed by Nicolette Jones in the UK’s Sunday Times: she named it one of “summer’s best children’s books”. How exciting!

Nicolette chose four books in the 9-11 age group:

– Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree, illustrated by David Tazzyman
“Outrageous wordplay, clever nonsense and a mad cherry-tree song provide the hilarity we expect.”

– John Grisham’s Theodore Boone (His first children’s novel)
“Grisham shows a sprightly style”

– Sharon Creech’s The Unfinished Angel,
“comical and moving”
(Winner of the Carnegie Medal!)

and our very own Takeshita Demons!

Takeshita Demons coverHere’s Nicolette’s (entire) review:

Monsters new to the West are introduced in Cristy Burne’s Takeshita Demons (Frances Lincoln £5.99), the winner of a Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices award, and illustrated in manga style by Siku. It is a pacy horror adventure in which a Japanese girl brings yokai (evil spirits) into an English school, and battles them with her friend in order to save her baby brother. Things get chilling when a supply teacher turns out to be a nukekubi (a child-eating spirit), whose head flies off. Fortunately, there are protective spirits, too.

Ooooo! Exciting!