Every so often you hear the tale of a relationship between animal and human that tugs at the heartstrings. Often this relationship comes about as a result of a doting human saviour (who has rescued a distressed or injured animal), with that animal then showing its appreciation through affection. In these relationships, both parties usually receive companionship and comfort from one another, and this is especially the case with the Bloom family, and a plucky female magpie they adopted and named Penguin. But their story has a few extra elements that make it all the more touching…
Always seeking adventure, Cameron and Sam Bloom couldn’t wait for the day when their three sons would be old enough to travel overseas with them and enjoy a fun-fuelled and action-packed family holiday. The couple had previously travelled though Africa and Europe, and had visited countries which are now considered too dangerous for tourists. Hoping to encourage the travelling bug within their sons, the Blooms decided that a holiday to Thailand would be the perfect opportunity to instil in their children an appreciation for foreign cultures. But while on their trip, a freak accident saw Sam suffer a near-fatal fall. Despite the best medical care available in both Thailand and Australia, Sam was left paralysed and deeply depressed as a result of the accident. Restricted to a wheelchair and unable to do even the most basic of tasks, Sam slowly felt herself drawing away from life. While her family showed support where they could, and repeatedly told and showed her how much she was loved, they felt helpless.
Then along came Penguin. Blown out of her nest, and with no room for her at the local wildlife rescue centre, the Bloom family decided to rear the injured chick by hand until she was well enough to fend for herself. Named Penguin for her black and white plumage, the little magpie slowly recovered, and became a part of the household- following the boys around the house and sleeping near their beds at night (while she was a young chick anyway). A strong bond also formed between Penguin and Sam- they would spend hours together during the day, with Penguin ‘overseeing’ Sam’s rehab sessions and providing an ear when Sam needed someone to vent to (without interruptions). Throughout Sam’s difficult journey, and Penguin’s flourishing one, Cameron- a professional photographer- recorded pivotal and touching moments, which he has now published within his book, Penguin Bloom. The photos perfectly capture the relationship between the Bloom family and their odd little magpie, and are both endearing and tender. Employing the help of family friend Bradley Trevor Greive (best known for his international bestseller The Blue Day Book), the Bloom family have chronicled their most recent years so that others can appreciate the beauty and fragility that exists within our somewhat damaged world.
This book has its tragic moments, but is also quite motivational. Sam, Cameron and their family have been inspired by their relationship with the bird they saved, and have achieved so much since the terrible circumstances that almost tore them apart. Sam’s personal message at the end of the book is especially heartbreaking in its honesty, and will likely leave you wondering how you would cope in similar conditions. This book has received plenty of media coverage since its publication, and rightly so. While the photography that fills its pages is charming, it is the challenging story that really drew me in. As a result, this is one biography/ photography book that you definitely ought to read.