Penguin Bloom is an extraordinary true story full of hope and courage, featuring Cameron Bloom’s exceptional photographs and a captivating narrative by New York Times bestselling author Bradley Trevor Greive.
Penguin the Magpie is a global social media sensation. People the world over have fallen in love with the stunning and deeply personal images of this rescued bird and her human family. But there is far more to Penguin’s story than meets the eye. It begins with a shocking accident, in which Cameron’s wife, Sam, suffers a near fatal fall that leaves her paralysed and deeply depressed.
Into their lives comes Penguin, an injured magpie chick abandoned after she fell from her nest. Penguin’s rescue and the incredible joy and strength she gives Sam and all those who helped her survive demonstrates that, however bleak things seem, compassion, friendship and support can come from unexpected quarters, ensuring there are always better days ahead. This plucky little magpie reminds us all that, no matter how lost, fragile or damaged we feel, accepting the love of others and loving them in return will help to make us whole.
Despite the title, this is a book about an Australian magpie (totally different breed to magpies in other countries) called Penguin, who was adopted by a family as a baby and then went on to become famous.
The (true) story went “viral”, and is soon to be released as a Hollywood movie.
I came across this book while on holiday at the coast, and read it in one sitting, though it was surprisingly long and with a lot more text than I was expecting – I was initially in it for the cute bird pictures!
Speaking of those pictures, they’re brilliant, and there are lots of them. The book is worth it for the photography alone.
However, there’s more to this story.
The mother of the family had an accident in Thailand which left her disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The book is as much about her coming to terms with her disability (which also left her without her senses of smell and taste) as it is about the bird, and the book begins with a chapter written by the husband, and ends with one written by the wife.
I’ll admit: the attempts to tie the relationship with Penguin to the woman’s personal journey were pretty flimsy. I doubt the bird actually had much at all to do with it, but I was willing to forgive it.
I’ve been living with a local family of magpies for years. Each spring they bring their babies to us, and they hang out on the front and back decks, singing, sleeping, occasionally attacking other birds in their territory. Never would I ever let one into the house, though twice a bird has sneaked inside, which was… interesting…
Which leads me to… it’s madness to keep a magpie inside. They make the most disgusting mess (yes, what you’re thinking). I was wondering about this family and their magpie, and it turns out that after a while they came to the same conclusion, and they moved her outside.
I’m dubious about the family’s behaviour taking the bird in in the first place. Once they leave the nest, baby magpies live on the ground for some time. Every spring, wildlife organisations beg people to leave them alone – they don’t need rescuing. Animal shelters fill up with “rescued” magpies that didn’t need rescuing in the first place, leaving vets completely frustrated.
However, my doubts aside, the story is an interesting one, and the photographs of the bird interacting with the magpie are brilliant. Australian magpies have a terrible reputation, as there are a few violent birds who attack humans in their territory in springtime. However, most magpies are lovely creatures – especially if they know you – and this book goes a long way to proving it.