Mr. Joao Pereira de Souza is a 71-year-old retired brick layer who lives on a small island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro called Ilha Grande. In 2011 he came across a Magellanic penguin who had become paralyzed from an oil spill. After Dindim, the penguin, was healed he left Ilha Grande only to return every year in June and spend eight months with his friend Joao.

Where the Heart is by Irma Gold has captured this heart-warming true story of unexpected friendship. Irma connected to this story as she has experienced the bond shared between animals and humans while working with elephants in Thailand. She is an ambassador for the Save Elephant Foundation, a Thai non–profit organisation dedicated to providing care and assistance to Thailand’s captive elephant population.

Irma Gold, an adventurous book lover, has authored three childrens books including Where the Heart is. Her debut novel, The Breaking, won the NSW Writers Centre Varuna Fellowship and was awarded development grants by artsACT and CAPO. Her debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward, was critically acclaimed and won a number of awards.

Susannah Crispe, a self-taught artist, is the talented illustrator behind the beautiful watercolour styled art found in this book. The bright colours and soft edges of her creations bring an extra warmth to the story and make it a pleasure to read. She studied Art History at the University of Sydney and Zoology at the University of New England. The combination of art and science led her to wildlife illustration. Susannah experienced her own connection to Joaos story after travelling in South America and exploring Brazilian beaches and islands. She even spent time on llha Grande, Joaos home island. It was her favourite place on her trip. The island, she describes, has no roads or cars and only offers walking tracks from port to town. Her recollection of animal life and untouched nature paints a serene and peaceful picture of this far away island.

Where the Heart is shows how one act of kindness can mean so much. With Joaos’ care, Dindim is nursed back to health and eventually leaves to go on an adventure to Patagonia. There he meets more penguins just like him but over time he misses his dear friend who is so far away. That is when Dindim decides to risk the dangers of the ocean to reunite with Joao. This lovely story is engaging for a young reader as they hope for the little penguins safety. Together, Irma and Susannah have created a memorable book, which is a must buy for any little animal lover.

Where the Heart is is available now, published by Exisle Publishing