Zobi and the Zoox is a beautifully illustrated science-adventure story, set on the Great Barrier Reef. Featuring a cast of microbes, molecules and mucus – this new 44-page children’s book highlights the microscopic members of the symbiotic society within coral.

Zobi and the Zoox has already won a Puggle award (the new children’s choice award) in the Picture Fiction category of the Environmental Award for Children’s Literature (EACL) and is shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award (in the 8-10 year old category).

Healthy coral is a symbiotic relationship between the Cnidarian (animal) polyp host; microscopic, photosynthetic zooxanthellae dinoflagellates (called Symbiodinium) and a large community of Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, Protists and Archaea. Set on the Great Barrier Reef, when their coral polyp home is under threat from a warming ocean, our hero Zobi (a rhizobia bacterium) works together with a family of slow-but-steady Zoox (zooxanthellae) to try to save the day.

You can order copies here: http://www.smallfriendsbooks.com/zobi-and-the-zoox/

Zobi and the Zoox was written by Melbourne-based writer Ailsa Wild and artist Aviva Reed in collaboration with Dr Gregory Crocetti and Briony Barr from art-science collective (Scale Free Network) together with Dr. Madeleine van Oppen – a researcher based at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the brilliant microbial ecologist Professor Linda Blackall from Swinburne University.

For primary-school children and science nerds alike, Scale Free Network is selling copies through our Small Friends Bookshop and Pozible.

Parents and Teachers – we also have Teaching Notes available for free download.

Retailers and Librarians – we also have a sell sheet with distribution and book details.


About the Small Friends storybook project

The Small Friends storybook project tells stories of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) and the intimate relationships they form with larger forms of life. Each story combines engaging written narrative and beautiful illustrations inspired by rich scientific concepts. The books promote the idea that cooperation is a dominant paradigm of nature, not just competition. They portray microbes in a positive light, countering misguided hysteria around germs and hygiene.

The theme of symbiosis is reflected in the creative team behind the storybook, comprised of a writer, illustrator and microbial ecologist who will work with active scientists, all coordinated by Scale Free Network. The combined work of these collaborators explains these natural phenomena in a way that no single person could do on their own.

‘Zobi and the Zoox’ is the second in the series, inspired by the living symbiotic relationship that creates coral. Using the same team of artists, the book will enrich the dialogue around this poignant Australian-centric topic, one which people feel passionate about but rarely appreciate on a deeper scientific level. We will work with primary school classes to test and develop the story characters and narrative, and accessibility of the science and environmental messages.



The creation of this book was supported by a $20,000 grant from the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria.