Family

When a magpie joins a family and helps save the mum’s life, it’s only natural that Hollywood would come knocking

Who could have known it would turn out like this?

By: Rebel Wylie

The sweet story of an injured baby magpie, and how it came to not only be part of a family, but be their saviour when a horrific accident left them struggling to cope, is being made into a Hollywood blockbuster … and we can't wait.

Hollywood heavyweights, Naomi Watts and Reese Witherspoon were so touched by the Bloom family's incredible tale that they're teaming up with producers Bruna Papandrea and Emma Cooper to bring the story of Penguin Bloom the magpie to the big screen in a film starring Watts as mother Sam Bloom.

Hollywood heavyweights, Naomi Watts and Reese Witherspoon were so touched by this incredible tale that they're teaming up with producers Bruna Papandrea and Emma Cooper to bring it to the big screen in a film starring Watts as mother Sam Bloom.

So how does a regular Aussie family end up the basis for a major film? It all started when a little baby magpie fell out of a tree.

The story of Penguin Bloom

"Penguin" was only a few weeks old when found, injured on the ground by young Noah Bloom near the family's Northern Beaches home in Sydney in late 2013.

The Bloom family – dad Cameron, mum Sam and their three children, Rueben, 16, Noah, 14 and Oli, 12, could never have expected how integral this tiny baby magpie would become to their family.

Seeking veterinarian advice, the family began hand rearing the fragile little creature, and as he grew strength, Cameron, a photographer began documenting their life with Penguin – named by the children for his colourings – and he soon became a social media star.

With 167k followers on Instagram, Cameron's beautiful images of the family's unique relationship with Penguin quickly warmed the hearts of Australia, and then the world.

Penguin was always free to come and go as she pleased, but as extremely territorial birds, it wasn't easy for her in the wild. Always staying close to home, Penguin was able to make a beeline straight back into the house if the other magpies decided to come swooping.

At 3:30 every afternoon, Penguin began waiting for the children to return home from school, excitedly greeting them with a cheery song, ready to head home with them and play.

While the Penguin and the children certainly had a special bond it was, perhaps, Penguin's relationship with mum, Sam that made the most impact on their life as a whole.

Sam Bloom's accident

Earlier in 2013, Sam had fallen after leaning against a damaged balcony railing on a family holiday in Thailand. Sam spine was broken and she was left paralysed.

"Penguin could not have arrived at a better time, by which I mean a more terrible time," writes Cameron Bloom in Penguin Bloom a book he penned with Trevor Greive, documenting the family's life with their magpie friend.

"Penguin and Sam soon became inseparable; one was always looking after the other. When Penguin was weak and sickly, Sam would lovingly nurse her back to health. And when Sam found it hard to get moving, Penguin would sing her energy levels up. If Sam was inside, doing paperwork or ¬writing in her private journal, Penguin would be there. If Sam was outside, painting and enjoying the sunshine, Penguin would be there."

Deeper than friendship

Both broken and trying to come to terms with their new way of life, Sam and Penguin really helped each other through.

"She was fiercely loyal to Sam and would provide a melodic chirp of encouragement whenever anything proved more challenging than might have been expected," writes Cameron.

As Sam slowly came to terms with her strange new world, Penguin did the same. When training and physical therapy were over for the day, or the pain got too much to bear, they would lie outside beneath the sky. I would often overhear the two of them having what sounded like long, in-depth conversations about what they were going through."

Determined to maintain the active lifestyle she had before the accident, Sam took inspiration from her little bird friend.

When Penguin was found, her recovery was touch and go. There were days that the Blooms thought she might not make it through the night, however her resilience and love for the Bloom family saw her make tiny progressions, eventually getting to the point where she could fly.

"I'll never forget when Penguin took her very first flight inside our lounge-room – it was an amazing moment for all of us," Cameron writes.

Inspired, Sam took up kayaking. Unable to participate in any of the other sports she loved: surfing, running, and cycling, kayaking, while difficult at first, became a way for Sam to stay active and keep busy … and catch a break from her "stupid wheelchair"!

With the break on her back being quite high, Sam was unable to use her torso for strength and balance like most kayakers. Instead Sam relies on the strength of her arms and has adapted her style so successfully she was selected to join the Australian ParaCanoe team.

"I may never accept that Sam's accident was part of any divine plan; her suffering is too great for me to believe such things," writes Cameron.

"But that she lived when so many others might have died, and that Penguin fell from the heavens when we needed her most – my heart tells me that if these were not miracles, then the Bloom family is still blessed beyond reason."