Flipper and Finnegan by Sophie Cunningham. Illus. by Anil Tortop
Flipper and Finnegan are are Little Penguins enjoying a glorious life on Phillip Island. They love their special place in the world alongside other wildlife such as seals, bandicoots and Cape Barren Geese. Their days are filled with fish hunting in the clear blue ocean and at night they waddle up the beach to their cosy burrow. When an oil spills covers most of their colony in oil the ranges at the Wildlife Centre know that the penguins are in grave danger. Oily feathers mean the penguins can't keep warm and if they try to preen themselves to remove it the oil will make them sick. Inventive thinking and lots of help from knitters all over the world results in the penguins being put in tiny woollen jumpers until they can be properly cleaned.
There is a small paragraph at the end of the story about the true history behind the tale of Flipper and Finnegan and what we can do to help Little Penguins. There are a few penguin facts scattered within the story and the illustrations and text give a wonderful sense of place (both of Australia and Phillip Island itself). Anil Tortop's illustrations use light to great effect and her animals are cute and cuddly. This is a heartwarming story about what can be achieved when we come together for a cause but is also a reminder of the damage human activity is having on the world around us. While great for younger children this presents the view that after the penguins have been cleaned up they are returned back to a perfect world. This may be a bit simplistic and miss out on teaching points for older children (however it could also be a useful springboard for discussing these issues). A second true story title by this same author and illustrator is titled Tippy and Jellybean: The True Story of a Brave Koala Who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire.
Themes: Kindness, Community, Environmental Issues, Oil Spills, Penguins.