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Penguin Bloom

Penguin Bloom

The story of a magpie called Penguin who literally fell out of a tree, and saved a family. And helped remake a woman called Sam

The Penguin Bloom story is one of the great true stories of life's struggle, love, resilience, and redemption. This is truly a wondrous book, authored by Bradley Trevor Greive, is told in images selected from over 14,000 taken by Cameron Bloom, along with a few words that somehow become more powerful for their scarcity. 

Cameron's photos track the magpie's life from patient - after he fell out of a tree, back to health and then, through his life with the family as he grew up to learn to fly and feed himself. The photos also document the parallel tracks of the bird's soul mate relationship with the family and in particular with Sam Bloom. Not long before the magpie appeared, Cameron's wife Sam had suffered a terrible accident and had found herself wheelchair bound. And that is how a magpie called Penguin literally fell from a tree and become the saviour and soulmate of a family called Bloom.

The incredible images tell the parallel story of Penguin, Sam and the family - through all the stages of healing, from the darkest hours through flight and reflight and the reimagining of lives.

I was given the Penguin Bloom book on Mother's Day in 2016 by my son and it immediately took a special place in my heart because we had a pet magpie as kids. I grew up with my siblings, running wild in the Queensland outback and the bird flew in and outof our lives as he pleased.

The little understood pain of being wheelchair bound

When I was 16, my father also found himself in a wheelchair after an accident. And it was Sam Bloom's raw and authentic words at the end of this book, telling what that is like to be in that situation, that for me, was the greatest gift in this book. Like most people I had no idea what it was like for my father through those years after his accident and his transition to a wheelchair. Sadly, he didn't make it. He took his own life when I was 21. 

It was Sam Bloom's words in the last few pages of Penguin Bloom that allowed me to finally understand what he had been through. Her words are full of real pain, anger, frustration and complete clarity. I often wonder, if my father had read them, whether if would have saved his life. Who knows, but there is no question that this book will truly salve the souls of many many people beyond the Bloom family. (And Sam now speaks at events, sharing her experiences.)

Buy this book for the joy of the photos and the family story. Or buy it if you ever need to understand better the life of someone in a wheelchair after an accident. It is truly an exceptional book. You can buy it online via the Penguin Bloom website.

Penguin Bloom the movie

This book struck such a chord with Naomi Watts (actor) that she turned it into a film which was filmed in the Bloom house and on the Northern Beaches of Sydney in August 2019, premiering in Australian cinemas in January 2021. 

Sam Bloom, the para olympian, speaker and author

Sam has gone on to become a competitive paracanoer, and winning two Australian titles before representing her country at the 2015 World Championships in Italy. In  2018, Sam was selected as a member of the Australian Adaptive Surf Team and has since won Gold for Australia at both the 2019 and 2020 World Para Surfing Championships. 

Sam also launched a book of her own. Heartache & Brirdsong in late 2020. 

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