Small Friends Books Series 1 Read Description

Zobi and the Zoox

A Story of Coral Bleaching

June 2018
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    1st June 2018
  • ISBN 9781486309603
  • Language English
  • Pages 44 pp.
  • Size 9" x 9"
  • Images color illus throughout

Winner of the 2019 Whitley Medal

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...

Can Zobi and the Zoox work together to save the day?

This beautifully illustrated science-adventure story, set on the Great Barrier Reef, was originally published in 2015, but has been extensively re-written and revised to delight and captivate primary-school aged readers.

Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching is the first in the new Small Friends Books series – Stories of Partnership and Cooperation in Nature.


  • A beautifully illustrated science-adventure story, set on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Accurate scientific text, created in collaboration with coral scientists
  • Engages children in the invisible world of microbes
  • An extensively re-worked edition of an original book published in 2015
  • 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.

"This enjoyable, exciting book describes how coral is dying from bleaching and how it tries to save itself... The illustrators not only painted the biology, but also the chemistry and chemical reactions. The pictures are beautiful. In one, there must be at least ten different shades of purple watercolour." 5 stars

Eva Fowler, reader reviewer, Double Helix magazine, July 2018

"It’s not always easy to tell such a complicated nature story, but this book does a great job of making kids feel as if they’re there on the reef with Zobi and her friends, facing the challenges our corals face. It also contains a handy timeline of coral bleaching and a glossary to help kids understand difficult words."

Wildlife Australia, Spring 2018

"It sounds like a great name for a rock and roll band, but it's a highly educational and quite entertaining story book about the microbial ecology of coral-microbial symbioses and coral bleaching... a satisfying ending and a good message about threats to coral reefs from climate change."

Jeff Shimeta, Microbiology Australia, September 2018

"Zobi and the Zoox is not only a story, it is also a science book. Adults and children will learn so much about coral as they read this story and every illustration adds even more information... an excellent book to use to teach children (and their adults) just how important the coral reef is to ocean health. It is also important to make people aware that everything, even if it is so tiny that we cannot see it with the naked eye, plays a super important role in the world we live in."

Vanessa Rendall, Educate Empower blog, 14 August 2018

"A very important and beautifully illustrated story about coral reef biology and coral bleaching... Whilst the story is probably pitched at the 4–8 age group, the science section is so comprehensive and includes such complex and sophisticated concepts, that I think it could easily be a reference for older primary (and maybe early high school) children (unless they are completely across their marine biochemistry). The artwork in this book is beautiful, full of detail with lots of informative labels and captions to learn from…and the endpapers are stunning and need to be made into wallpaper!"

Dr. Sam Lloyd, Children's Books Daily (blog), 19 September 2018

"Aviva Reed's wonderfully liquid illustrations infuse the microbial world with life, colour and a sense of movement; they clearly communicate the complexities of an interconnected and interdependent ecosystem."

Children's Book Council of Australia

Ailsa Wild

Ailsa Wild creates stories for theater and paper pages. She loves collaborating with acrobats, scientists and children and her favorite question is ... But why?

Aviva Reed

Aviva Reed is a multi-disciplinary visual ecologist who creates immersive experiences to explore complex science.

Briony Barr

Briony Barr is a conceptual artist, designer and interdisciplinary thinker, who is fascinated in the relationships between large and small.

Gregory Crocetti

Gregory Crocetti combines his microbial ecology experience with science education skills in an attempt to teach the world that microbes are marvelous.

picture book; rhizobia bacterium; coral bleaching; symbiosis; coral reef ecosystem; microbial ecology; microbes