authors, interviews

Cristy Burne on Beneath the Trees


Cristy Burne holds Beneath The Trees 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?
Beneath the Trees by Cristy Burne and illustrated by Amanda BurnettYes, 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.

  1. Mosquito bites itch, but leeches use anaesthetic, so you don’t even know they’re biting you.
  2. Mosquitoes buzz around your room all night, but leeches are nice and quiet.
  3. 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. 


Beneath the Trees by Cristy Burne and illustrated by Amanda BurnettDownload 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


Meet the author: Catherine Carvell

Catherine CarvellToday we are thrilled to have Catherine Carvell visiting us to talk about her brand new book Darcy Moon and the Deep-Fried Frogs. (If you live in WA you might have already had a peek inside Darcy Moon when it appeared in the West Australian lift out.)

Can you tell us something about where you live?

I live in a very small country called Singapore, which is a five-hour plane ride north of Perth.

Singapore is very close to the equator so it’s tropical and hot all year round. It doesn’t even cool down at night. Also, it rains every day and has super impressive thunderstorms.

My family and I live in a four-bedroom apartment in a high-rise apartment in the city. We don’t have our own garden, but we do have a big pool and a playground downstairs, which we share with all the other people in our apartment block.

The best things about living in Singapore include:

  • swimming every day
  • never, ever having to wear long sleeves and
  • a really excellent zoo where you can feed elephants, giraffes and rhinos!

Where do you get your ideas?

Wow! I get inspiration from all over. A memory or a dream or something I read in a book.

For example, I decided to write for children when I was reading a story to my daughter. We were both so happy curled up together and I realized something amazing. I was nearly forty years old and had travelled the world, but my most exciting adventures had all happened inside a children’s book.

Soon after that, I saw my son eat a snail.

We were both in the garden but I was too far away to stop him. It made me feel sick, but it also gave me a really good idea for a story.

So for me, inspiration is as simple as that.

I was inspired to become a children’s author because my daughter and I enjoyed reading a book together.

And Skippity Chips (which feature in Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs) were inspired when my baby ate a snail.

Darcy Moon (cover)

How did you come to be a writer?

I’ve always loved writing.  I wanted to be an author when I was seven years old, but as I grew older, I got busy with other things and stopped writing.

When I was all grown up, I still wanted to be an author, but kept it a secret until I had my own children. I wanted them to know it’s important to chase your dreams, no matter how old you are. So even though I was afraid I would be no good, I decided to follow my childhood dream.

Writing is my favourite thing in the world, and I enjoyed every minute of writing Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs. It was particularly fun getting to know my characters, especially Darcy’s parents. Every time they were in a scene, I would giggle and laugh out loud at my desk.

Having imaginary friends that make you smile is one of the best things about being an author.

Was it easy to get your first book published?

I was very lucky.

Fremantle Press was the first publisher I sent Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs to and they liked it.

When I got the email saying they wanted to publish it, I screamed and danced around like a lunatic.

Are you working on a new book now?

I’ve been working on another children’s book for over a year now. It’s the story of two friends who discover a strange and wounded creature trapped in the mangroves. I’m about halfway through and can’t wait to find out what happens to my two main characters.

I’m also working on a picture book and of course, there’s always the next Darcy Moon adventure. What animal will Darcy save next do you think?

Apart from that, I’m busy working on my new blog. Having a blog is heaps of fun. I get to write interesting articles about frog slime, endangered animals and how to recycle, as well as post fun stuff like frog jokes and u-tube clips. Check out the blog at, and leave a comment on your favourite post to let me know you dropped by.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I enjoy reading, nature walks, reading, sunshine and reading.

Also, I want to grow my own potatoes. As soon as I get a garden, I will do it.

Is your writing influenced by any writers in particular?

As a writer, I often think of reading as a sort of research, a way of seeing how others have done it. I’ve learned something from every book I’ve ever read, but I particularly admire the work of Morris Gleitzman, Wendy Orr and David Almond. 

Did you have a favourite author when you were growing up?

I read a great deal when I was young, but a few stories stick in my mind even now.

I loved the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton as well as The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, both by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I’m not sure why these books resonated with me so deeply, but I still remember the thrill I felt each night crawling under the covers to read a little bit more.

Darcy Moon and the Deep-Fried Frogs has an environmental theme. Is this because you are interested in environmental issues?

Yes! I’ve always been interested in nature, especially the slimy bits. When I was small, I used to love snails and earthworms and tadpoles. I also remember collecting dead flies from windowsills and peering at them through the school microscope. I was fascinated by their alien eyes and strange, hairy legs. I drew them in a sketchbook and labelled all their body parts.

As I grew older I completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia. I even worked at Greenpeace for a while, raising money by running a stall at the Fremantle Markets.

Humans depend on the earth for food, fuel, medicine and other things we can’t live without. And yet we continue to take more from the earth than it is capable of replacing.

We catch fish faster than they can reproduce.

We cut down trees faster than they can re-grow.

We are not living sustainably, and if we don’t address these issues now the impact for the next few generations and beyond could be catastrophic.

Nature is much more than an unspoiled view. It is the finely balanced machine, the science and the magic, that keeps our planet alive.

And it’s up to all of us to make a change.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Read, write, and enter competitions.

Also, don’t let life get in the way of your dreams.

Visit Catherine Carvell’s website for more about her and her writing. And if you just can’t get enough Darcy Moon, make sure you check out the Darcy Moon Frog Blog.