The Huddle

The Huddle
Sean Julian
Oxford Children’s Books

When albatross chick, Alba, feels the time is right she spreads her wings and taking advantage of the wind, takes to the air. Her flight takes her away from everything familiar and as she searches the sea beneath for food, she fails to notice the huge wave coming up behind. Crash! Alba lands up on a rocky shore but her wing is damaged to that it won’t move. Exhausted and in pain, Alba falls asleep.
When she wakes, she sees a penguin close by. The penguin drops a fish beside her.

Over the days and weeks, more friendly penguins come sometimes bringing her fish, but always making Alba feel cared for and safe from potential harm. Alba loves the playful penguins and little by little she forgets about flying through the sky. Then one day at sundown she notices that her friends look troubled. Dark storm clouds are brewing and there’s a chill wind. The penguins huddle protectively around her

and eventually she falls asleep encircled in their love. After many days the storm abates and Alba wakes to see lots of excited penguin activity as the sun begins to come up on the horizon. Her friends stretch out their wings expectantly, not to fly but to feel its rays. For Alba though, with her wing now mended, it is departure time. Difficult though it is, she stretches out her wings and lifts off to the sound of cheering penguins. Penguins that she will never forget; she’ll cherish those memories and use that love she felt in their company as a model for raising her very own little chick.

The care and concern shown by that penguin colony is a wonderful example of how a simple act of kindness can make all the difference to a struggling individual. Despite its Antarctic setting, this story leaves you with a wonderful warm feeling inside. Sean Julian’s illustrations convey so well both the chill of the landscape and the compassion of the penguins.

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