Imagine a world where you cannot walk…
It is almost too unbearable to contemplate especially if you once had that capacity.
The beautifully published, exquisitely printed and superb layout of Penguin Bloom, the odd little bird who saved a family, explores this physical inability with a sensitivity and optimism that reflects the best in people and in their relationship to animals.
The recuperation of Sam, wife and mother is paralleled with the recovery of Penguin, a baby magpie, through an inspirational narrative and sympathetic photography.
This story of love, tragedy, pain and healing opens with a prologue that introduces the protagonist Sam, working in her father’s Newport Beach bakery, whilst completing a nursing degree.
For Cameron Bloom it was love at first sight. The friendship and romance between Sam and Cameron blossomed into a committed relationship. “Sam was never your average beach girl.” But it was obvious from reading this love story that Cameron was not your average beach boy either.
Their compatibility, common interests like the outdoors, sport, travel, food, quirky ways and deep love was celebrated in the commitment of marriage.
Over the years they excitedly welcomed the arrival of three beautiful boys, Rueben, Noah and Oliver.
Sam and Cameron longed to share their passion for travelling with their children and after much reflection finally settled on a trip to Thailand.
Their desire for escaping the tourist locations led the Bloom family to a coastal village on the Gulf of Thailand where their lives would be dramatically altered by an excruciatingly violent accident.
A patio railing Sam was leaning on gave way and she plunged six metres below. Her injuries were horrendous and included shattering her spine in two places, rupturing her lungs and severe bleeding on the brain.
Her treatment and therapy were extremely slow and she was faced with the daunting prognosis of never walking again.
Sam was haunted not only by daunting physical pain but the intense grief of a lost past way of life.
Her agony was unbearable at many levels and it was apparent that a miracle was essential to help rebuild and restore some dignity and purpose in her life.
A baby magpie had also suffered a severe fall from a twenty metre Norfolk Island pine. Likewise, her injuries were also life threatening.
She was rescued by Noah and named Penguin, Miss Penguin Bloom. The whole Bloom family including Sam nurtured and supported the baby chick in her recovery.
Penguin’s antics and milestones were documented by Cameron Bloom’s intuitive and discerning photography.
His pictorial history of Penguin’s development and convalescence achieves an eloquent cohesion and celebrates the poignancy and fragility of life.
The intimacy and emotional connection of the extraordinary quality images reveal the language and actions of love.
In one photograph the communication of Penguin’s melodious carolling call to Sam in her wheelchair and the movement of her hand to reach the loving magpie in the second photograph are wondrous.
The compositional elements of these two images are striking. The beige rectangular tiled floor and the revolving motion of the wheels are juxtaposed with the open beak and reaching hand.
The delicateness of the photographs conveys tenderness, hope and resilience.
The intentionality of purpose behind the photography ensures that Cameron Bloom’s images evoke the heartfelt connections of the interactions and innovatively compliment the narrative.
This is not surprising as his world renowned photography career began when he was fifteen years old. His work has been featured in international publications for example Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times.
Bradley Trevor Greive is a prolific, successful Australian author and recipient of multiple awards across the world. However, perhaps his best known work is Blue Day Book published in 2000.
In Penguin Bloom his account of the family’s journey is frank, tender, honourable and compelling story telling.
The charisma and personality of Penguin is well defined and peppered with engaging humour.
Bradley’s empathy for Sam and her challenges is honest and real. He expressed her mental anguish and physical pain with integrity.
Bradley coupled the narrative to the photographs with a touching clarity and sincere objective.
His prose echoed a deep affinity to animals and a compassionate, refined and candid understanding of Penguin, Sam and the family’s heartache.
Sam’s fortitude, determination, courage and family and friend’s support have helped led her to a new pathway and passion, kayaking.
Last year she was a member of the Australian Paracanoe Team.
Penguin Bloom delivers a message of hope.
The qualities of endurance, patience, creative thinking, kindness and flexibility reign in this absorbing tale of love, friendship and The odd little bird who saved a family.
‘Hope is the thing with feathers’*.
Rose Niland, Special Features, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
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Every day another Australian is paralysed by a spinal cord injury. For more information about how SpinalCure funds medical research to find a cure for this devastating condition go to www.spinalcure.org.au
* Emily Dickenson