Did you know that 99% of life on Earth is comprised of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa? Almost all of these are microbes are not just beneficial, they are essential to the health of all living entities and ecosystems. And yet, most children are taught to believe that microbes are harmful…We need new stories about our small friends.

Introducing Small Friends Books.
Written for 8-12 years old children (and curious minds of all ages), Small Friends Books is an eco-literature series which re-imagines the world from a microbial perspective. Beautifully illustrated and based on complex science, each story is inspired by an example of symbiotic partnership in the microscopic world. Created by artists, writers, scientists and educators, the series is co-published by art-science collective, Scale Free Network and CSIRO Publishing. The first title in the Small Friends Books series, Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching, was released in June 2018 and is available online and in bookshops around Australia.

Exploring healthy soil on the micro-scale.
Healthy soil is the basis of human food production, the source of many of our medicines, and the sink for half of the Earth’s carbon. And yet, most people think of it as plain ‘dirt’. A treasure trove of fascinating characters and dynamic interactions, soil is unexplored literary territory, and the setting for the next two Small Friends Books.

Promoting the principles of organic farming through two new stories.
Scheduled for release in the second half of 2019, our next two titles will help to join the dots about the incredible life within organic soil.

Xeno’s Feast
This is a story about entomopathogenic nematodes and the role they play in naturally controlling pests to help maintain a healthy balance of soil biodiversity. It follows the journey of a group of juvenile nematodes and their bacterial partners as they navigate the soil labyrinth, on a mission to save a plant from attack.

The Forest in the Tree
Narrated by a fungal spore on a mission, this story is inspired by the ‘wood-wide-web’ –
the underground network of communication and nutrients between plants, mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria. It explores how a resilient, biodiverse soil community works together to deal with adversities such as drought and disease.

We need your help to grow

Scale Free Network is looking for additional partners to support the final stages of creative development of our soil stories. Thus far, the series has received support and endorsement from the Australian Society for Microbiology, as well as arts funding from Creative Victoria. However, each book requires significant time and money to complete.

Working Together

We would be proud to be associated with Australian Organic members and will promote sponsors and supporters through acknowledgement in our books, educational workshops, public events and websites.

We also welcome the input of organic producers around how to best to advocate for principles of organic farming and the value of buying organic in our books and accompanying teaching resources.

Further information about Small Friends Books and Scale Free Network: