Co-published by Scale Free Network and CSIRO Publishing, the award-winning Small Friends Books series combines cutting-edge scientific research, rich narrative and beautiful illustrations to tell stories that describe symbiotic partnerships between microbes and larger life forms. Each book re-imagines the world from a microbial point of view, to engage and educate children and adults alike.

Microbes make up 99% of life on Earth, playing a vital role in the health of all living entities and ecosystems – and yet no stories or education resources exist to help explain this. Small Friends Books tell positive stories about our smallest and oft misunderstood friends.



Each book is created collaboratively by a core team comprising writer Ailsa Wild, visual ecologist Aviva Reed, art director/publisher Briony Barr, and science director/publisher Dr Gregory Crocetti, in consultation with legendary microbial ecologist Professor Linda Blackall.

The Small Friends Books series is supported by the Australian Society for Microbiology.

Rights enquiries, please contact Jenny Rosson –


The fourth book in the Small Friends Books series has just been released – here is the trailer:




Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching

With her home under threat from a warming ocean, Zobi, a brave rhizobia bacterium, teams up with a family of slow but steady Zoox (zooxanthellae). As the coral bleaches, everyone begins to starve…

44 pages (28 pages story + 16 pages science)



The Squid, the Vibrio & the Moon

A story about the symbiotic relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and the bioluminescent bacteria that help it glow in the moonlight.

40 pages (28 pages story + 12 pages science)



Nema and the Xenos: A Story of Soil Cycles

The tale of a tiny nematode, the bacteria that live inside her, and a tree being munched on by a grub.

48 pages (32 pages story + 16 pages science)



The Forest in the Tree: How Fungi Shape the Earth

Told by a fungal spore, this story explores the hidden relationships between plants, fungi and bacteria.

48 pages (32 pages story + 16 pages science)


I read your book The Squid the Vibrio & the Moon to my grandson and he was absolutely riveted. As soon as I finished, he demanded that I read it again. He was swept up by the story, the incredible characters in it and wonders of the relationships that have evolved. I look forward to the series to come.

— David Suzuki (Scientist, environmentalist and author)

When I read Zobi and the Zoox I felt like I was a Rhizobia bacterium making ammonia to help Darian build the reef. It was like I was floating around in the hot water of the reef seeing all the bleached coral. I also think that even though the Zoox, Zobi and even Darian are all quite small they mean a lot to the world, I also love the pictures.

— Kieran, age 11

Nema and the Xenos: A Story of Soil Cycles is a must-read for every child and every adult to remember that microbes make us, we are soil, we are members of a complex, creative, cooperative Earth Family.”

— Vandana Shiva (Scientist, environmentalist and author)

The Forest in the Tree is poetic in its simplicity, with beautiful, luminous illustrations that surprise and delight; inviting the reader to see the world with fresh eyes.”

— Nadja Slovak  (Primary School Teacher & Librarian)