Monday, April 23, 2018

Penguin the Magpie by Cameron Bloom

Penguin the Magpie: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family
by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Grieve [Biography Bloom] 

A few years back, I gave a book talk to our Bethany and Gere BooksTalks groups entitled “Creature Comforts“, all about unique relationships between humans and the animals in our lives. Penguin the Magpie: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family would easily have fit into that talk! When I saw this book on the New Books display at the downtown library, recently, the beautiful B&W photo on the cover, of a child holding a gorgeous magpie bird, immediately leapt out at me.

Author Cameron Bloom is an Australian photojournalist. He and his wife, Sam, are adventurers, preferring treks through unexplored spaces over sticking to “tourist” traps. While on a family vacation with their three young sons to a remote part of Thailand, Sam Bloom was the victim of a freak accident, that left her with a broken spine and fractured skull. Returning to their home in Australia, she was forced to adapt to a new lifestyle, filled with excruciating pain, partial paralysis, and the need for assistance with some of the simplest everyday tasks — torture for someone who had previously lived a very “active” life.

Around this time, one of the Blooms’ sons came across a helpless baby Magpie bird in a store’s parking lot, blown out of its nest and abandoned by its mother. The Bloom family adopted the bird, which the kids named Penguin, due to its black & white coloring, and decided to nurse it, at least until it could be released into the wild. This book features a variety of B&W and color photos of the family with the bird, as it grew up, acclimating to their family life and becoming like one of their kids. Sam, in particular, bonded with the bird, and the process of helping something even more fragile than herself to survive and then thrive contributed to her own rehabilitation. The photos are paired with text that is almost journal-like in format, chronicling Sam’s recovery and the impact it has had on her entire family’s life. There are afterwords, including a “letter” from Sam, herself, which are definitely worth reading, and which add to the emotional impact of the book.

The descriptions of Sam’s struggles are stark, but when contrasted with the beautiful photography of the family and their avian adventures, provide for a bittersweet exploration of how relationships with animals can have a healing quality. This was truly a moving story.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wesley the Owl, by Stacey O’Brien, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron, A Street Cat Named Bob and How He Saved My Life, by James Bowen, or any of the many other books on my Creature Comforts booktalk booklist.]

[ official Penguin the Magpie web site ] | [ official Cameron Bloom Photography web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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