When Anna arrives at the hotel left to her by a great-aunt, she finds it in a sorry state, but with loyal staff still in position: T.Bear on the door, and Lemmy (a lemur) on Reception. They work hard to spring-clean the place, and are surprised to find, emerging from the lift, Mrs Turpington, an old tortoise who had been hibernating for 3 years. She was quite happy to pay the money owed, so Anna can hire staff and get the hotel going again, although The Glitz at the other end of Animal Boulevard has taken a lot of potential customers.
What Hotel Flamingo can offer is a friendly welcome and sea views on both sides, and a reputation as the sunniest hotel in town. Anna accepts any animals who can pay, even insects: a family of cockroaches, who prove very useful at finding out that the otters are blocking the pipe to the swimming pool, and she lets the otters work for their room by acting as lifeguards. With new staff, including a keen housekeeper, Hilary Hippo, handyperson Stella Giraffe who can fix anything, and Madame Le Pig, a top chef (of the grumpy variety, of course) things begin to look up, until a hotel inspector arrives – will they pass?
It’s all great fun, with the issues of diversity and acceptance handled lightly and lots of strong female characters. Alex Milway’s pink and grey illustrations to his own story are plentiful and lively. He has already produced three stories about Pigsticks and Harold, and this book is set to be the first of a four-book series, so, as the phone rings and rings with guests wanting to come and stay, we look forward to more adventures for Anna and her animal friends.