The Great Barrier THIEF, a book review



Title: The Great Barrier THIEF
Written & Illustrated by: Dr Suzie Starfish
Publisher: Little Steps Publishing

‘Good grief! What has happened to the Great Barrier Reef?
Did you know the coral colours are a warning sign? A global reef alarm? We all need to do what we can to keep it safe from harm.’

One day Anthia’s home on the Great Barrier Reef starts getting hot, VERY hot. Soon all the colour starts disappearing from the Reef! Join Anthia and her sea creature friends as they find the Great Barrier THIEF and bring the colours back to their underwater home.

What I love about books is that they give a voice to those who cannot speak, including our living earth.

Talented author and illustrator, Dr Suzie Starfish, has created a story of significance. The Great Barrier THIEF is set in the Great Barrier Reef, off the east coast of Australia. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world, larger than the Great Wall of China, and is the only living thing on earth visible from space.

However, being underwater, the vanishing colour of the Great Barrier Reef is all too easy to miss. It’s also a serious ‘the-planet-is-unhealthy-sign’. But thanks to Marine Scientist, Dr Sue Pillans aka Dr Suzie Starfish, and her great ocean passion, she is creating a focussed awareness and mindfulness through her picture book, The Great Barrier THIEF.

The main character of the story, Anthia, lives in a beautiful, colourful underwater paradise, bustling with happiness and life (it’s also Nemo’s home from ‘Finding Nemo’). When the water starts feeling hot, Anthia becomes alarmed. And when her friend, Angela Algae leaves and the coral colours disappear, Anthia knows the problem is bigger than big, and goes in search of the cause and a solution.


Dr Suzie Starfish’s illustrations are bright, colourful, and bursting with life at first, so when the Great Barrier Reef loses its colour, the reader feels a devastating loss alongside the main character, Anthia. This use of colour is an effective way to show that there are consequences for our actions. The visual representation of the effects of pollution on the Reef is confronting, creating a very real awareness of our bigger than big role in caring for the earth.

And for curious and science minds, Dr Suzie Starfish has included an information page – Underwater Wonders – explaining coral bleaching and a special algae called Zooxanthellae, that lives inside the coral. It’s fascinating reading!


I highly recommend The Great Barrier THIEF. It’s a story of planet love. A story of working together. A story of problem-solving; a story of earth survival. We only have one home, and we must look after it. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Purchase a copy:  The Great Barrier THIEF

Title: The Great Barrier Thief
Written & Illustrated by: Dr Suzie Starfish
Publisher: Little Steps Publishing 
ISBN: 978-0-648267-38-6
Target Audience: 6 – 8 years
Pages: 32 pages

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a published author and illustrator who is continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words. When she is not disappearing into her imaginary worlds as Julieann Wallace – children’s author, or as Amelia Grace – fiction novelist, she is working as an editor, book designer, and book magician for other authors. Julieann is a self-confessed tea ninja and Cadbury Chocoholic, has a passion for music and art, and tries not to scare her cat, Claude Monet, with her terrible cello playing.

The Colour of Broken new cover again

Julieann is a member of:

Ella Saw the Tree, book review


Title: Ella Saw the Tree
by: Robert Vescio
illustrated by: Cheri Hughes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

“One windy day, as Ella plays in her backyard, she is showered by leaves.
When she looks up, Ella sees a tree in her backyard … has it always been there?
And why is the tree crying?”

1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Author, Robert Vescio, has explored the concept of mindfulness and nailed it in his flowing, charming story, Ella Saw the Tree. All too often parents and children are caught up in the busy-ness of life while the simplest, yet most inspiring moments zoom past, unnoticed.

Ella is no different. She is  always busy in her backyard. She has an amazing imagination. It takes her to the ocean, then guides her to soar above, before she visits the distant lands to explore with her wonderful four legged friend. But one day it started to rain. Not ordinary rain that comes from the clouds. It was an extraordinary rain that came from above. That’s when Ella looked up and saw the tree. Ella was sure the tree was crying. So she tried her best to cheer it up. But the leaves still fell like tears. Ella was terribly worried. It was then that her mum told her to notice the special things around her. So she watched and listened all around, and felt and smelled the air. Using her senses to be mindful of everything around her filled her head with the ‘right now’. Ella smiled. Her heart was full.


 Of course no picture book is complete without illustrations. Illustrator, Cheri Hughes, has given us a visual feast with her inspiring illustrations. The detail in each double page spread carries the reader deep into Ella’s world where you feel what Ella feels.

I highly recommend Ella Saw the Tree, not only for young children, but for middle and upper primary children as well. The story is a gift sent to remind us to pause and take a moment to notice the here and now. It’s a stop, look, listen and feel book that will connect children to themselves and nature, and any environment they find themselves in. This is the type of book that will open your senses to appreciate nature with a thankful heart.

Have you noticed the beautiful trees?

Purchase a copy:

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520361
Format: Hardback
Category: General fiction (Children’s / Teenage)
Pages: 32

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
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Share Your Story Australia