Penguins in sweaters
(idea for the new book)
The story about three penguins who were saved from disaster by an old man is loosely inspired by the true story of a certain Alfred Date, a hundred and eight-year-old Australian, who a few years ago knitted woolen sweaters for penguins threatened by an oil spill in the ocean. He thus protected them from poisoning, which they could cause when cleaning their fur.
This was the very first good-news story that I have found for my book A Year of Good News. After the book was published, I realised that some of stories would also work as a separate independent children books.
Just like every day, three naughty penguins are playing in the shallows near the beach. They splash, dive and race. Suddenly, they hear a loud noise. They get scared and look at the horizon. A giant steamer has crashed into an even bigger tanker.
Oil oozes from the sinking wreck and the white sea quickly turns into a thick black puddle. Before they knew it, they were up to their ears in it. They were saved from drowning at the last moment by an old man. He pulled three black, greasy monsters out of the sea, loaded them into the back of a rickety van and took them to his little house.
It didn't take long for the three restless penguins to turn Grandpa's cozy little room into a clogged junkyard full of broken things. Grandpa was clueless at first, but then he managed to herd the black gaggle into the bathtub and scrub them clean.
They got fish for dinner and watched sadly through the window as a group of salvagers and activists tried to pump oil out of their native bay. To calm them down, the old man put them to bed and read them a story from a book.
When they woke up in the morning and looked out the window, the ground was covered in snow. The old man had made them woollen sweaters so that they would not be cold when they were playing ball. They built a snowman and put up a Christmas tree. For the first time in many years, Grandfather was not alone on Christmas Eve. The long winter had been replaced by spring and the sea was as clear as before. The old man loaded the penguins into the car and drove them back to the beach. They hugged, said goodbye, hung their sweaters on a nail under the umbrella and jumped into the water. They waved one last time to the old man and disappeared beneath the surface bathed in the rising sun.