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The Story of a Fish's Transition

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Pride Parade

with Marla - June 2023

After selling out last year, we've ordered 500 new books for you to stock up on this Pride Month. Order books now.



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Looking for Marla follows 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 of the community when the female of their community is removed. This biological fact is omitted from the iconic movie Finding Nemo and is a story that our book Looking for Marla helps to share and correct. Looking for Marla hopes to inspire readers of all ages on their own journey of gender expression and self-exploration, while they discover the diversity of parental care strategies in the underwater world!

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Meet Paloma, Audrey, & Jessie.

Read about the book's inspiration.

Order your very own book- freshly stocked for June 2023 Pride Month.

Read testimonials about the book.

See a sneak peek of the book!

Looking for Marla Kickstarter Launch!

Looking for Marla Kickstarter Launch!

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The Story of a Fish's Transition

This book is for educators, parents, youth, and anyone wanting to learn about sex and gender diversity in nature and gender pronouns in a fun way! 

Please contact us if you would like to stock these books at your institution:

Motivation for Looking for Marla

Testimonials in support of Looking for Marla


"Looking for Marla takes you on an undersea discovery journey through the surprisingly diverse expressions of gender and sexual identity among marine creatures. I have taught sexuality education classes for ages ranging from kindergarten to senior high school, and this wonderfully imaginative book will be a precious addition to the curriculum. Little kids will marvel at the beautiful illustrations and older youths will appreciate the whimsical rhyming text. For all, the variety of parenting styles and gender expressions depicted in these pages are sure to expand their understanding of the many ways to be human. May they find their own inner Marla."

-  François Bar, Ph.D. | Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education facilitator | Professor of Communication, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab

"Looking for Marla beautifully illustrates how art can help to communicate scientific information and break down social stereotypes. We at the Norris Center for Natural History are proud to have supported this creative and outstanding book."  

- Karen Holl, Ph.D. | Professor of Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz | Faculty Director, Norris Center for Natural History.

"Looking for Marla is joyful, beautiful and informative.  If you are curious about: gender identity, the ocean, its inhabitants or parenting then this is the book for you!  This is revelatory reading at its best."

- Beth Rendeiro, M.Ed | Co-founder, More Than Sex Ed. | Trainer, Our Whole Lives, Lifespan Human Sexuality curricula |  Educator, UCLA Lab School

"Looking for Marla speaks for the often overlooked and misunderstood ocean creatures. With gorgeous illustrations and unforgettable facts, this story will warm the hearts of those willing to undertake a new perspective on our underwater world."

- Roxanne Beltran, Ph.D. |  Assistant Professor, UC Santa Cruz | Children's Book Author



Motivation for Looking for Marla

In wild clownfish populations, a male member will transition into the role of the dominant female of the community when the female of their family is removed, in a process called sequential hermaphroditism. This biological fact is omitted from the iconic movie Finding Nemo and is a story that our book Looking for Marla helps to share and correct.

People may not be aware of the truly vast diversity of sex and gender expression and parental care strategies which occurs in the natural world. The creators of Looking for Marla have observed that these stories, our stories, are often grossly misrepresented or altogether excluded from popular media of today. Thus, we believe that the sharing of these narratives is absolutely necessary and long overdue.We hope that you enjoy learning about the ways in which animals of the sea change between sexes and showcase diverse gender roles in their ecosystems. 

The creators of Looking for Marla worked with the Diversity Center Youth Groups of Santa Cruz and Watsonville to develop the story. We are happy to share their story to uplift the voices of Queer and Trans youth. Our book draws attention to gender pronoun usage and models what pronouns are and how to use them. We hope that this book will provide support and solidarity for those readers whose stories are so often left untold. 


Our Stories

In case you wanted to know a little bit more about who we are and how we got here, the creators of Looking for Marla each wrote about their personal journey to this project, what their hopes and intentions are for it’s impact, and what role they played in creating it. 

About us
Sneak Peek

Sneak peek at some of the scenes in the book:

Facing Parenthood Alone

The first illustration of the book Looking for Marla, where a famous clownfish contemplates how they will manage to be a single father, let alone a single mother in just a few more days. 

They set out to discover the magic that is successful parenting, by seeking advice from a plethora of diverse marine critters... 

The First Mother

The first mentor of motherhood he encounters is a female turtle, who has just laid her eggs on the beach. She leaves them there, hoping for the very best. She doesn't even know what sex her children will be, as it is up to the mercy of a changing climate. 

Progressive Dads

The second stop on the clownfish's crusade brings him to some less traditional examples of parenthood, the mouthbrooding jawfish and belly-brooding seahorse. These progressive dads advocate for paternal leave so they can brood their young, in their mouths or in their pouches, until their young are ready to swim away and greet the world. 

Learning from Threesomes

The clownfish, on a quest to discover the secrets of parenthood, meets a crew of bluestreak cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus) who explain their own fascinating parental dynamics. The male has a semi-permanent cleaning posse of himself and his two lady friends, who run this mom-n'-mom-n'-pop cleaning station.