Flipper & Finnegan by Sophie Cunningham

Flipper and Finnegan: the True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins
Author: Sophie Cunningham
Anil Tortop
Published: August 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children’s  Picturebook
Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $19.99

I received a copy of Flipper and Finnegan from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

From the bestselling creators of Tippy & Jellybean – The True Story of the Brave Koala who Saved Her Baby From a Bushfire, this affirming and delightful tale is based on a true story of animal rescue and community cooperation.

Flipper and Finnegan live on a beautiful island.
Every morning they hunt for fish in the clear blue ocean waters.
Every evening they waddle up the beach together with all their friends – it’s a penguin parade.

But one day, when Flipper comes up for air she gets covered in something that is black and smelly and sticky – and Finnegan is nowhere to be seen…

This is the miraculous true story of how a viral knitting campaign helped save the lives of Millowl/Phillip Island’s Little Penguins.

One of Victoria’s most beloved attractions is the Little Penguin (or Fairy Penguin) Parade on Phillip Island, were thousands of Little Penguins come in to shore at night.

In 2001 an oil spill left the smallest penguins in the world covered in oil that they couldn’t clean themselves and couldn’t keep themselves warm. Those that made it to shore were collected for cleaning – which took a long time, so people from all over knitted penguin jumpers for them to keep them warm (and stop them from ingesting oil) while waiting to be washed.

Sophie Cunningham’s new picturebook is a recount of this ecological disaster, and the way that people worked together to protect this gorgeous little species of penguin, who are so beloved. Told from the perspective of penguin partners – Flipper and Finnegan – Cunningham shows the process of saving the penguins and eventually releasing them back into the wild when it was safe to do so.

The story is engaging and informative and easily accessible by children of all ages. The illustrations are gorgeous and Flipper and Finnegan have a wonderful presence on the page.

There’s also a brief summary of the history of the event at the back of the book and some photos of the penguins wearing the knitted jumpers. It also highlights the work of the Penguin Foundation who raise funds to protect Phillip Island’s native wildlife and environment through research, conservation and education programs.

This is a great addition to any picturebook (or classroom book!) collection and I know it will capture the attention of readers and encourage them to look more deeply into Australia’s animal histories.

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