MEET THE AUTHOR
Cristy Burne writes fiction and nonfiction and her books are bursting with adventure, friendship, family, nature, science and technology. Cristy has worked as a science communicator for nearly 20 years across six countries. She has been a science circus performer, garbage analyst, museum writer, and atom-smashing reporter at CERN, but her all-time favourite job is working with kids to embrace the intersection between science, technology and creativity.
Cristy’s latest book is Beneath the Trees, with illustrations by Amanda Burnett. From the publisher:
Cam and Sophie feel like they’ve been travelling forever to get to the rainforest and the river and their cousins. They just want to see a platypus in the wild, but with the rain tipping down and the river turning wild they can’t see a thing. Until suddenly, they can. A platypus is just below them, and it needs help! But when their rescue attempt goes horribly wrong, it’s not just the platypus that needs saving …
Your characters Cam and Sophie want to see a platypus in the wild. Have you ever seen a platypus yourself?
Yes, and I loved it! In 2019 my family travelled across Australia to see platypus in the wild, just like in the book. In fact, that’s the whole reason Beneath The Trees exists. So the descriptions in the book of the forest, the rain, the river and the platypus are all real-life descriptions.
Platypus are so wonderful and so lovely to see in the wild. We need to do all we can to protect their habitat and our environment so animals like this don’t continue to decline.
You write books about kids having adventures in the great outdoors. Do any of your own childhood adventures make it into your books?
I grew up on a kiwifruit orchard and farm in New Zealand, so adventure was a huge part of my childhood. I remember being chased by bulls, rescuing a paddock of heifers from a flood, accidentally electrocuting myself with the electric fence while chasing a wayward cow through the orchard in the dead of night and in bare feet…
None of these adventures have made it into a book yet, but now you have me thinking….
Personal opinion: Leech or mosquito … which is worse?
Mosquito is way worse.
- Mosquito bites itch, but leeches use anaesthetic, so you don’t even know they’re biting you.
- Mosquitoes buzz around your room all night, but leeches are nice and quiet.
- Mosquitoes are responsible for millions of deaths (from diseases like malaria), but leeches are used to treat patients who are recovering from surgeries (like reattachment surgeries).
So leeches are way better than mosquitoes. And they’re way grosser too!
Do you have any tips for kids who’d like to write adventure stories?
Adventures stories are awesome to read, and awesome to write. The best bit is that you have to have experienced some adventure to write a good adventure story. You don’t need to have experienced the exact thing your character is experiencing, but you do need to know what it feels like to be frightened or lost, or how it feels to do the right thing, even when you’re afraid.
A good way to remember how you feel is to write about it in a diary each day. You’ll soon get bored of writing ‘I felt scared’ or ‘it was fun’ and you can start to experiment with new and scary and funny and original ways to describe your day. I dare you to start a diary and write in it every day for a week!
Can you tell us a bit about your next writing project?
My next book comes out at the end of April. It’s the first in a science-meets-magic adventure series co-written with debut author Denis Knight. Book 1 is called Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows, and it’s about a schoolkid called Wednesday who mixes magic and science to save the universe from a power-crazy goblin king. It’s loads of laughs!
Beneath the Trees is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookshop or local library.
Download Teachers’ Notes for Beneath the Trees
Read the first chapter on the publisher’s website
Visit Cristy’s website to see some photos of the Queensland environment where the story is set
Watch a YouTube video of Taronga Zoo Australian fauna team releasing a rehabilitated male playtpus back into the wild in NSW