Monday 9 August 2021

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is by Irma Gold, illustrated by Susannah Crispe (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820874

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

Dindim the penguin chick becomes part of Joao’s life after washing up on a beach near his home, the victim of an oil spill disaster. Rehabilitated slowly and lovingly, Dindim grows into adulthood, before heading back out to sea. After a long journey discovering a community of other penguins and the joys and dangers of the ocean, Dindim finds his way back to Joao. 

What gives this book its depth is the fact that it is based on a true story, as we are told in the introduction to the story. Since recovering from the catastrophic 2011 oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Dindim the penguin has spent eight months of each year with his rescuer Joao. The rest of the time he visits the tip of South America, a trip of 8000 kilometres.

There is little need to varnish such an extraordinary tale, and this book does a lovely job of relating the story for a young audience. The gentle watercolours perfectly illustrate the environment and emotional landscape, combining impactful double spreads with cute vignettes.  The penguins are rendered with character and dynamism. 

A beautiful story of the connection possible between humans and nature, Where the Heart Is will touch the hearts of children aged from 3 years.

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