Marine Debris

Cranky Frankie and the oceans of trash

I am VERY EXCITED to reveal the second book in my series of ocean science stories for children, “Cranky Frankie and the oceans of trash“, written and illustrated by Dr Suzie Starfish and published by Little Pink Dog Books. This story draws attention to the global issue of marine debris and plastic pollution in our oceans and the animals that live there. This story is told through the eyes of a VERY feisty fish named Frankie and is based on science filled with messages of hope and solutions. I use storytelling to engage, excite, educate and empower children that they CAN be the change they want to ‘sea’ in the world.

This picture book is being released in Australia and New Zealand on the 2nd February 2022 and in the US, UK and Canada on the 7th June 2022. AND you can pre-order copies of the book now at

You can dive into the story behind the story and the progress of the book below and ‘sea’ my story as an “Authorstrator” with Little Pink Dog Books via

My Marine Debris Story

The next children’s picture book in my series of ocean stories by my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish is about the impacts of Marine Debris. Marine Debris is defined as “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the coastal and marine environment” (CSIRO). Marine Debris includes items such as plastic bottles, plastic bags, balloons, glass, cigarettes, metal, rubber, fishing line, ropes, hooks and materials lost on or near land or discarded at sea which end up in the ocean and along our coastlines. Our entire Blue Planet from the deepest oceans, to our coral reefs to the icy circles are impacted by human-made trash, much of which is plastic.

The issue of marine debris and plastic pollution is deeply personal for me as I spend a lot of my time by, on or under the ocean so I ‘sea’ first hand the impacts of marine debris and it makes me very CRANKY (…as you can see from the photo above and below I get quite passionate about the plight of our plastic oceans!). I want to draw attention to the increasing amount of litter in our seas as we now have oceans of trash. I also want to provide solutions that each one of us can do every day to help make our seas clean again because WE need to be the ‘sea of change‘. I already share these messages through my marine art-science Schools visits and Workshops for kids, but I think its time to share my thoughts through words and pictures!

As you can ‘sea’ I’m ‘shore’ not happy about what I’m sea-ing washed up on our beaches!

The Story behind the Story

Marine debris doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, it ends up on our beaches, in our waterways and oceans because WE put it there, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Did you know that each piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists today!! This makes me very CRANKY, particularly when I ‘sea’ all the trash on our beautiful beaches so I decided to write a story about it to illustrate the impacts of marine debris. As with all of my ocean stories the content is based on the latest marine science and includes findings from marine debris surveys and research carried out around the world.

This story will illustrate the types of marine debris, the impacts of marine debris on marine wildlife and how YOU can help stop our plastic oceans. The story is told through the eyes of a rather feisty and spiky character, Frankie the porcupine fish, who is as CRANKY as I am about the trash in the ocean (…with a bit of attitude as you can see from the photo below). I have some great illustration ideas which I will share once the front cover design is finalised, but let’s just say they are going to POP!

As always my stories include solutions to our environmental problems, with a BIG splash of ocean optimism, as I believe WE need to be the change we want to ‘sea’ in the world. So it’s up to YOU to #takeyourtrash and leave only footprints (you can ‘sea’ the progress of this story by following #takeyourtrash). You can ‘sea’ more about my ocean storytelling in my interview with BioTechniques (International Journal of Life Science Methods) in the UK in their “Science in fiction” series to celebrate World Book Day (in which Cranky Frankie also got a shout out!) at

The theme for World Environment Day 2018 was to be part of the worldwide movement to clean up our Blue Planet and #beatplasticpollution! So if you can’t reuse it, refuse it!


My Timeline – Creating the WORDS & PICTURES

This is where you can ‘sea’ the progress of my story, the inspiration (…or exasperation!) behind the storyline and the illustration ideas. Dive in and follow Cranky Frankie as we create the words and pictures.

November 2016/2017 – My trips to one of the most beautiful, remote and I thought pristine places, Chilli Beach in Far North Queensland, was full of marine debris! These trips started to make me CRANKY!


February 2018 – Whenever I visit the beach I ALWAYS pick up as much trash as I can and it was sad to ‘sea’ the amount of marine debris along the beaches of my favourite Rainbow Beach in Queensland. Standing in paradise and plastic pollution made me very CRANKY!


March 2018 – Meet the main character of the story who is rather spikey and, like me, is a little bit CRANKY about the impacts of marine debris.

April 2018 – Visiting my favourite beach where you usually ‘sea’ the beauty in nature but its covered in plastic pollution! This makes me very CRANKY!

May – June 2018 – submitting manuscripts is a waiting game….so in the meantime I’m just getting some ocean inspiration at my favourite writing spot somewhere over the Rainbow. Sitting on top of the world… well on top of the Carlo Sand Blow, feeling inspired!

July 2018 – as of the 1st July in Queensland plastic bags have been banned from all businesses! This is a great initiative to help reduce single-use plastic bags ending up in our oceans. It’s time to bring your own bag!!

August – September 2018 – whilst I’m still looking for a publishing home for my marine debris story I have been getting some Vitamin Sea and illustration inspiration with my spiky little friend at the Sunshine Coast!

November 2018 – Holding children workshops to illustrate the impacts of marine debris and ocean pollution by creating recycled artworks and stories.

March 2019 – EXCITING NEWS!! “Cranky Frankie: Oceans of Trash” has found a publishing home with the wonderful Little Pink Dog Books! I can’t wait to dive into the illustrations for this book!


April 2019 – Cranky Frankie ON the Great Barrier Reef and the marine debris you can ‘sea’ on Lady Elliot Island.


August 2019 – Just diving into the storyboard for Cranky Frankie during Book Week!

August 2019 – It’s Keep Australia Beautiful Week so let’s CLEAN UP the oceans together! 

February 2020 – Not the blue’s and greens I want to ‘sea’ in our oceans! Unfortunately this is the illustration inspiration for my picture book

March 2020 – “Cranky Frankie” and Dr Suzie Starfish in our happy place somewhere over Rainbow Beach

April – July 2020 – During the COVID-19 lockdown I have been spending my time somewhere over Rainbow Beach tidying up the oceans of trash that I ‘sea’ washed up on the shore. And as you can ‘sea’ I get a bit cranky when I keep finding trash on our beautiful beaches.

August 2020 – Whilst doing my next round of illustrations for the book I’m still sea-ing all sorts of things washed up on our beaches, and as you can ‘sea’ I’m ‘shore’ not happy about it!

January 2021 – I have been BUSY BUSY BUSY finalising the illustrations for ‘Cranky Frankie’ WITH Cranky Frankie the porcupine fish!

February 2021 – A close up of the marine debris found washed up on our beaches

March 2021 – As you can ‘sea’ I was pretty cranky about the types of rubbish that washed up onto our beaches during Clean Up Australia Day! Let’s ALL Step Up to Clean Up!

April – May 2021 – this is just some of the illustration “inspiration” OR should I say “irritation” for my artworks.

July 2021 – lights, camera and ACTION! Behind the scenes of my Video Story for the making of “Cranky Frankie”, available soon on my You-Tube channel (Dr Sue Pillans)

August 2021 – SO EXCITED to reveal the front cover during National Science Week AND Keep Australia Beautiful Week!!

STAY TUNED here for more updates on my journey as an ‘Authorstrator’ as I progress my Marine Debris story.

If you would like to know more about my ocean storytelling.

All artworks, stories and images are Copyright © 2021 Dr Sue Pillans