Where the Heart Is


Written by Irma Gold, published by EK, June 2021

Where the Heart Is was inspired by the extraordinary true story of a sick Magellanic penguin washed up on an island beach near Rio de Janeiro. He was rescued by Joao, who nursed him back to health and unwittingly formed a lifelong friendship.


Poignant, moving, funny and heartfelt, Dindim and Joao's story is a celebration of friendship and nature. It explores the deep bond that can form between humans and animals, and encourages children to think more about the incredible animals who share out world.

Head HERE to watch Duchess Sarah Ferguson read Where the Heart Is on 'Storytime with Fergie and Friends'!

Donde el Corazon te Lleva


La historia de Dindim y Joao

Spanish edition,  Ana Pániker Vilaplana (Translator), published Editorial Kairós, 2022



"El libro tiene unas ilustraciones preciosas, amplias y llenas del color del mar y la naturaleza, algo que va a captar la atención de los más pequeños además de transmitirles valores y amor y respeto por los animales y la naturaleza"

- Elena


What a beautiful, beautiful book.

- Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York


Where the Heart Is offers insights into the comfort to be found in friendship, and the strong bonds that can form between humans and animals. A rare bird of a book: light and deep in equal measure.

- South Sydney Herald

Crispe's artwork has strong child appeal, with the delightful Dindim exhibiting the full gamut of emotions... There is pathos, sentiment, adventure, danger and solace in this charming book about the strength of friendship and the power of kindness and caring.

- Canberra Times

"Irma Gold pulls you right into the emotion of this true story with a retelling that tugs on heart strings and inspires bravery and caring for others...  With stunning illustrations by debut illustrator Susannah Crispe, Joao and Dindim come alive... A beautiful story to share at home, and equally as perfect to explore as a class, Where the Heart Is is a powerful and joyful tale that proves friendship and love know no distance."

- Kids' Book Review

"This book is a perfect example of the capacity of the picture book to both enchant and inform us... Evocatively illustrated by Susannah Crispe and skilfully told in words by Irma Gold, this story is indeed one that both touches our hearts and intrigues us."

- Living Arts Canberra


Schooldays Magazine - July 2021

Marjorie Lewis-Jones from South Sydney Herald - July 2021

Stephanie Owen Reeder from Canberra Times - July 2021

Shaye Wardrop from Kids' Book Review - June 2021

Barbie Robinson from Living Arts Canberra - June 2021



In 2010, I spent several months travelling South America. I relived that time a lot while working on Where the Heart Is.

Joao, the old man from Where the Heart Is, lives on an actual island paradise. I spent several weeks exploring and lounging on Brazilian beaches and islands, and Ilha Grande — Joao’s home — was by far my favourite place. There were no cars or roads on the island, just walking tracks leading from the port - up and over mountains, thick with jungle - to a seemingly infinite number of pristine beaches.


The jungle there was incredible, filled with howler monkeys, marmosets, squirrels and birds. It was quite different to the Amazon jungle where the air’s thick with humidity and insects, and the wildlife makes so much noise you can’t think. On Ilha Grande, the animals seemed almost as calm and relaxed as the people. I remember hiking to a waterfall one morning with a banana in my bag. The instant I split the skin open, a dozen small furry faces materialised from the trees. As I finished the last bite, the tiny monkeys faded back between the vines as if they were figments of my imagination.

I completely understand why Dindim returns to the island every year to visit Joao - I would too if I could.

I was in Chile when I saw Magellanic penguins like Dindim in the wild. The Island of Chiloé, just off the coast of Chile, is a truly magical place filled with incredible birdlife. I had heard about a penguin colony on a tiny island nearby, but at the time I was travelling, there weren’t any options for tourists to visit it. I convinced a taxi driver to drive along the coast (sometimes along the beaches themselves as there were few roads) to the bay opposite the Islotes de Peñihuil. There, he negotiated with local fishermen to take me to the island to see the penguins.

I had been learning Spanish for a few months at this stage, but it turned out the fishermen only knew a handful of Spanish words, speaking one of the many indigenous languages instead. Despite this, they tried valiantly to point out various bird species to me. As we pulled up close to Peñihuil in their tiny battered boat, several small black and white heads popped up from burrows in the grass. Magellanic penguins were happily going about their day, in amongst Humboldt penguins, flightless ducks, kelp gulls, cormorants and terns. Even some friendly sea lions and otters came to say hello.

It was pretty special being able to use my own source photos to develop the characters and landscapes in Where the Heart Is. Working on Dindim’s story felt like a tribute to this trip and the people who made it so memorable.