Small Friends Books

Alisa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti et al.

Small Friends Books: Stories of Partnership and Cooperation in Nature

The 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 title is:
•44-48 pages in length
•published in square (230x230mm) hardback format
•comprised of two parts: a story and ‘Science Behind the Story’ section
•created through a symbiotic collaboration between writers, scientists, artists, designers and educators.
•co-published in Australia by Scale Free Network & CSIRO Publishing.
•Intended to target 8-12 year olds

At the core of our philosophy is the desire to address two key issues relating to the microscopic world:
1.Human-scale-centrism: humans tend to only pay attention to things that they can see, when in reality, more than 99% of all biodiversity on planet Earth is invisible to the naked human eye.
2.Fear of microbes (e.g. bacteria, viruses, nematodes etc): our collective misunderstanding of, and hostility towards microbes means we are missing important lessons that are much bigger than just communicating science. In the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, growing resistance to antimicrobials and promising new medical approaches working with beneficial microbes, we think this understanding is more urgent than ever.

These science-inspired picture books demonstrate an effective multimodal model for teaching scientific literacy. However, we believe these stories not only communicate scientific concepts, phenomena and processes – but also serve as a transdisciplinary resource that teachers can use to collaborate across learning areas and literacies, expanding the potential for students to deepen their thinking as they reflect on the meanings and questions raised through the story. We believe this approach will enhance much-needed critical thinking skills and help enable growing minds to better navigate misinformation and make better decisions about the science and technology that increasingly shape our world.

Shortlist, Educational Picture or Chapter Book
Resource type
Student Resource
June 2018, February 2019, August 2019, September 2020
Print only
9781486309603, 9781486309894, 9781486312160, 9781486313310

Scale Free Network & CSIRO Publishing

Scale Free Network (SFN) is a Melbourne-based Art-Science collective founded by visual artist Briony Barr and microbial ecologist Dr Gregory Crocetti. Since 2007, SFN have created interdisciplinary workshops, exhibitions and educational resources that draw on the ‘invisible’ microscopic world as a source of inspiration.

Since 2014, SFN have co-created and published narrative non-fiction picture books and graphic novels which communicate complex science through narrative and illustration. Each publication explores the phenomena of cooperation and symbiosis within the microscopic world and is developed in collaboration with writers, artists, scientists, teachers and students.