Gladys & Stripey by Michele Gierck & Marina Zlatanova

Being the smallest fish in the stream is not easy. For Gladys and Stripey, it gets even harder when, after a night of heavy rain, fast flowing water sweeps them out of their home habitat. What can they do? Will they make it back home?

This (almost) true story, written by Michele Gierck, is based on an Australian threatened fish species called Galaxiella pusilla. Told in rhyme, with accompanying scientific notes, young and not-so-young readers will discover all sorts of interesting facts about waterways, this special fish species and its habitat. Trust and courage are as much themes of this book, as are sustainability, connecting to your local environment, and taking action.

Michele is a storyteller who says that she ‘delights in adventures’. She loves collecting stories and bringing them to life on the page. Until recently, she was focused on writing adult non-fiction. However, after much research and unleashing her creativity, her first children’s book, Gladys and Stripey: two little fish on one BIG adventure, was released in 2023.

‘Nature is so inspiring. And we can learn so much from being out in it and caring for it,’ Michele says.

Gladys and Stripey: Two little fish on one BIG adventure, is a delightful book. In the notes at the beginning of the story, Michele explains how she fell in love with this little fish after seeing it in its native habitat. She became curious and asked questions, trying to imagine what it must be like to be the smallest fish in a stream. Combining science and story, the rhyming narrative takes you on a journey with these little fish, as they hide from the big fish, munch on mozzies, and live a quiet life, staying out of trouble.

Until one day, when the rain falls heavy and the current grows strong. In a dangerous whoosh and gush, Gladys and Stripey are flung into the great, wide river. They find themselves in grassy green fields that have become flood plains, tired and hungry and afraid. As the sun rises, the puddle they have found safe harbour within, begins to dry. With threats above and dangers below, these two tiny fish must draw on their courage to find their way home.

Each page of the book has a side bar with facts and information about habitat, flooding, waterways, the impact of litter on these waterways, how these fish learn, and what we can do to protect threatened species like Gladys and Stripey. The end pages are filled with more facts, which are perfect for opening discussions with children about environment, sustainability, nature and courage. It is inspiring and hopeful and will encourage children to explore further information about the world around them.

The watercolour style illustrations are soft and filled with movement, matching perfectly with the rhyme, rhythm and onomatopoeia in the text. It is a perfect read-aloud for younger readers and the inclusion of ecological/​scientific information will connect with middle-grade readers. Older readers will enjoy it too!

The book is available in some bookshops and via Michele’s website here. Teaching notes and activities are also available at the website.



  1. Michele Gierck on August 31, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Enjoyed reading the review Helen. Let’s hope it inspires readers of all ages to have a look at the book during Nature Book Week, 4-10 Sep. There’s so much to discover not only about local native fish, but what’s in your local creek. Gladys and Stripey are certainly in demand for Nature Book Week!

    • Helen Edwards on September 1, 2023 at 8:48 am

      Absolutely. It is a lovely book!

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