Launch party for children's book 'Looking for Marla' November 15 at MAH

UCSC graduate students Paloma Medina and Jessica Kendall-Bar and alumna Audrey Ford collaborated on the illustrated tale of a clownfish in transition

book cover

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History will host a book launch event on Friday, November 15, for the new children's book Looking for Marla, written and illustrated by graduate students at UC Santa Cruz. The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. and will feature performances by local artists.

Looking for Marla tells the tale of a curious clownfish in transition as they find their way through fatherhood and into motherhood. In wild clownfish populations, a male will transition into the role of the dominant female when the female is removed from the community, a biological fact ignored in the movie Finding Nemo.

The book was written by Paloma Medina, a graduate student in biomolecular engineering, and UCSC alumna Audrey Ford, and illustrated by Jessica Kendall-Bar, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology. It is available in both English and Spanish (translated by Karen Ross), and copies will be available at the event.

The book is intended for educators, parents, youth, and anyone wanting to learn about sex and gender diversity in nature and gender pronouns in a fun way. The Looking for Marla team hopes to inspire readers of all ages on their own journeys of gender expression and self-exploration as they explore the diversity of the underwater world. A portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated to the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz to support diverse communities in Santa Cruz and Watsonville counties.

The Looking for Marla book project was supported by the Kenneth Norris Center for Natural History at UC Santa Cruz, the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission and Economic Development Office, the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County, the UCSC Science and Justice Research Center, and the Cantu Queer Resource Center.

Additional information is available on the following websites: