G Crocetti

Literature & Publishing

Xeno’s Feast: A Nematode’s Tale

Our goal is to complete the illustration, scientific section, layout and design of Xeno’s Feast, the third title in the Small Friends Books series.

Days Left

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.

Featuring beautiful illustrations and based in complex science, the Small Friends Books series re-imagine the world from a microbial point of view. While targeting 8-12y/o, the books are designed to be gorgeous artworks that appeal to curious minds of any age. Each science-adventure story focuses on symbiotic partnerships between microorganisms and larger life forms.˙

Xeno’s Feast takes place in the dynamic underworld beneath our feet, soil. It is a delightfully gothic tale that explores the unique partnership between plants, nematodes (roundworms) and Xenos (Xenorhabdus bacteria). The story takes readers on a dangerous journey through the labyrinthine soil landscape, as a small gang of juvenile nematodes undergo a rite of passage…

Socio-economic modelling forecasts a growing need for STEM education, as Australian children slip further down international league tables in Mathematics and Science. The current crisis of science teaching in Australia requires new modes of engagement.

Small Friends Books takes the approach of teaching science through storytelling – creating new tools to engage and educate children and their teachers, parents and grandparents about the critical roles of microbes in the world around us.

This new title in our Small Friends Books series will build on the reputation of Scale Free Network (SFN) as a leader in art-science collaboration with a revolutionary approach to creating narrative non-fiction. Our first three books have received 11 literary, design and education accolades to date, including a US Independent Publishers Book Award, an Environment Award for Children’s Literature, a CBCA ‘Notable of 2017’ and Most Outstanding Educational Resource (2017 Aust. Educational Publishing Awards.)

The series has already been fortunate to receive some financial support from the Australian Society of Microbiology and Creative Victoria – which have allowed us to complete the research and creative development of the story.

Through our new co-publishing partnership with CSIRO Publishing, Xeno’s Feast will reach audiences around Australia and internationally.

However, we still need to raise $15,000 to complete Xeno’s Feast over the second half of 2018. These funds will specifically cover the costs of Illustration (Aviva Reed), Book Layout & Design (Briony Barr), Science Writing (Gregory Crocetti) and Graphic Design (Jaye Carcary).
More info at: www.smallfriendsbooks.com
Our first title, Zobi and the Zoox is now available through CSIRO Publishing:


G Crocetti




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Small Friends Books is a growing success story within Australian independent publishing scene, making an original and distinct contribution to the genre of eco-literature.

Each award-winning story in the Small Friends Books series has been created through collaboration between the core creative development team, working closely with designers, educators and students.

Our deeply interdisciplinary methodology ensures high aesthetic values, production values and strong scientific integrity – which crucially relies on the in-kind support of a range of scientific experts (e.g. microbiologists, virologists, mycologists, plant physiologists), who provide us with critical advice, research material, images and feedback.

The Small Friends Books creative team is comprised of:

Briony Barr 
(Art Director & Publisher)

Bachelor of Arts (English), Bachelor of Fine Arts, Masters of Fine Arts

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

Dr. Gregory Crocetti (Science Director, Creator & Publisher)
Bachelor of Science (Honours),
PhD (Microbiology), Diploma of Education
Gregory combines his microbial ecology experience with science education skills in an attempt to teach the world that microbes are marvellous.

Aviva Reed 

Bachelor of Science, Masters of Environment (Education)

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

Ailsa Wild

Bachelor of Arts, Masters of Creative Media (Creative Writing)

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

Small Friends Books is coordinated by Melbourne-based Art-Science collective, Scale Free Network (www.scalefreenetwork.com.au), founded by Briony Barr and Gregory Crocetti.


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