Penguin Bloom tells the story of Sam Bloom, a young mother whose world is turned upside down after a near-fatal accident in Thailand leaves her unable to walk. Sam’s husband, her three young boys, and her mother are struggling to adjust to their new situation. But then an unlikely ally enters their world in the form of an injured baby magpie named Penguin.
Penguin – whose fragile state mirrors Sam’s – is a physical symbol of the change in the Bloom household, which is undergoing renovations, and their family dynamics, which includes the addition of their new pet. Penguin’s arrival is a welcome distraction for the Bloom family, except for Sam. Sam was a nurse, avid traveller and a beach enthusiast before the accident and she’s struggling to come to terms with her new reality. But ultimately, Penguin makes a profound difference to everyone – even Sam, who’s at her lowest point.
This young readers’ edition by Chris Kunz is adapted from the major Australian motion picture starring Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln and Jacki Weaver. Told from the perspective of Noah, one of the three Bloom boys, this edition of the true story speaks directly to young readers. Kunz’ use of truncated sentences and to-the-point language makes the story easy for young readers aged 8+ to follow. This perspective introduces heavy concepts of loss, depression, and life-changing circumstances in a tender and innocent way.
It teaches young readers that strength, resilience, and positive thinking are the traits you need to get through the tough times. For example, Oli, the youngest Bloom boy, sees his mum’s paralysation as a superpower, illustrating how you can alter their frame of mind to coincide with a change of pace. Young readers can resonate with these traits and themes through their own transitions and changes, such as moving from primary school to high school, for example.
While parents may be familiar with the other books on this story such as Penguin Bloom and Sam Bloom: Heartache and Birdsong, this edition also speaks to parents in an indirect way. Parents can witness the way children respond to and are impacted by the various shifts in the mood and atmosphere of a household when there has been a change. This can be seen in forms as significant as Sam’s accident, or an impactful change in pace, such as moving schools or towns.
Despite their initial distance, Penguin’s strength to literally spread his wings and fly, gives Sam the burst of hope she needs to (figuratively) spread her wings and fly in these changing circumstances. And it might just give each reader the hope that they need for their own individual journey of growth.