Friday 12 March 2021

Penguin Bloom

Penguin Bloom
by Chris Kunz, based on the screenplay by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps (HarperCollins) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN: 9780733341670 

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

When Noah Bloom’s mother has a near-fatal accident and can no longer walk, the whole family is thrown into despair. Noah blames himself, his mother is bitter, and his father and two younger brothers struggle to be happy. 

After a storm, Noah finds a hurt magpie chick, and he decides to look after it. Little does he know that this small act of kindness will change his family’s lives forever. Penguin the magpie inspires the Blooms with her determination and unconditional love, bringing the family back together and filling them with hope.

Adapted from the movie screenplay of the same name – which itself was based on a true tale – Penguin Bloom is aimed at kids aged eight and older. Chris Kunz has retold the story from the point of view of young Noah, allowing children a safe pathway into a narrative that tackles some complex concepts, such as paraplegia and depression. Chris does not shy away from these difficult topics, choosing instead to cushion their impact with extraordinarily moving moments shared by the family, and humorous antics from the real star of the story, Penguin. 

Chris uses language that is easily understood by young readers, and he maintains Noah’s unique voice throughout the story. His characterisation of Penguin is perhaps the book’s most endearing feature. As the magpie grows from chick to adult bird, she displays a wealth of human-like qualities, from gratitude and devotion to courage and joy. From her, the Blooms learn a valuable lesson: live for today.

Tender yet thought-provoking, Penguin Bloom will leave readers with a song in their heart. Whenever they see a magpie in the wild, they’ll be reminded of Penguin and the power of love to heal all.

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