Magpies are a familiar part of outdoor terrain for Aussie kids.
Many would have grown up feeding them in the backyard, or observing their territorial behaviour from a distance.
But for 10-year-old Noah Bloom, who rescued an injured magpie chick from a carpark in 2013, it would be a totally different story.
You see, “Penguin” as they came to call the rescued native bird, arrived into the lives of Noah and his two brothers, Rueben and Oli, at a tumultuous time.
Their mother, Sam, had suffered a near-fatal fall during a family trip to Thailand that left her paralysed and deeply depressed.
Upon witnessing a beaten and battered Penguin, the Bloom family decided they’d seen enough tragedy and, unable to find an animal shelter that would take her in, would raise her themselves.
Soon enough their new family member became an Instagram sensation, as Cameron Bloom, Noah’s father, began capturing photographs of the rescued bird as she settled in with her new human family.
Sam, with sons Noah, Rueben and Oli and adopted daughter, Penguin the magpie.
But what Penguin’s 120, 000 Instagram followers didn’t see was Sam’s story, and how, this little magpie became a symbol of strength and hope during an incredibly hopeless period.
Penguin Bloom released on Monday, features Bloom’s heartwarming photographs alongside New York Times bestselling author Bradley Trevor Greive AM’s narrative, using Penguin as a vehicle to tell Sam’s story.
Sam spent seven months in the spinal ward before being released, and while her arrival home was a definite win, coming to terms with the fact she’d never walk again meant every day was a struggle.
“There’s no glossing over anything. I like the way that it has its ups and down, it’s not all roses. And it’s certainly not an easy read either,” Cameron Bloom told The Huffington Post Australia.
Awareness of spinal cord injuries and the complications involved is what Bloom said he hoped the book achieves but also, the simple emotion of making people smile.
Penguin and Noah.
“It will appeal to so many people on different levels. We really wanted to tell the story of our family going through trauma but finding happiness through an unlikely saviour,” Bloom said.
“Angels come in all shapes and sizes” is mentioned at the beginning of the book, and for the Bloom family, Penguin was exactly that.
“She became like another kid in the house. The real beauty of it was that she became this bright spark and totally lifted the mood of the household,” Cameron Bloom told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Unlike a pet dog, Penguin wouldn't go and lie down when you told her to."
“All of sudden you went from looking at her as a wild animal to seeing her massive personality and actually getting to know her as an individual,” Bloom said.
Penguin spent two years with the Bloom family, in which she became a “fearless ambassador of love and chief motivational officer” before taking flight on her own, the night before Sam left for Italy to compete in the World Titles as part of the Australian Paracanoe Championship team.
“Penguin flew off the day before Sam left. She was probably at her sexual maturity and was able to make her own family,” Bloom said.
After receiving phone calls from a few neighbouring friends, Bloom discovered she’d found a new home in the wild, not far from a local cafe.
"Empathy and a love of nature is what Penguin taught us."
“One day I went down there and saw her. She flew to me and landed on my shoulder. It was really cool. I bought her home and then she flew away again two days later,” Bloom said.
With more than 14, 000 images of the wobbly-headed native bird, Bloom said Penguin’s story of survival during a time when they too were recovering from tragedy is something that will stay with the family forever.
Penguin Bloom is out now.