Author Georgeanne Irvine again has taken us on an intimate journey and provided a unique chance for a child to see just how much effort and love goes into caring for an animal and, most importantly, caring for each other.

Fabulous Floyd: The True Story of a Flamingo Who Never Gave Up (Blue Sneaker Press) tells the story of a flamingo growing up at the San Diego Zoo who didn’t exactly have your average childhood. As he grew taller and his white fluffy feathers turned pink, Floyd developed leg problems. The zoo staff noticed that Floyd walked “like Floyd had two left feet!” It was not your average clumsiness; Floyd’s legs were especially fragile, a life-threatening condition for a flamingo who relies on his legs for feeding and socializing with his flock.

Your child may have been through a similar health crisis or had a friend who needed extra attention at the doctor’s office. The book gently explains the often long and lonely process of treatment and recovery. The mechanisms of surgery, such as a breathing mask and brace, are highlighted for their usefulness and kind intention. A hospital may be scary and confusing for a child, but the book consistently iterates how loved and secure Floyd felt in the staff’s arms. Floyd’s human friends “stayed with him all day and night to hold him up.” This encouraging line and many like it express how friendship helped bear both Floyd’s physical and emotional pain.

Every page is saturated with fun and vibrant pinks, greens, and purples. Large pictures help children walk through the process with Floyd as if they are right there with him, cheering him through it. The photos are large and crisp as if the reader could reach out and feel each silky feather coming off the page. Children get a sense of how much their presence alone can greatly enrich the lives of others. Parents can use this book as a jumping off point for discussing a child’s interest in science or else as a way to help kids cope and comprehend illness or injury.

One particular spread includes pictures of how the veterinary staff made fun bandages for Floyd. Changing the dressing became more like getting a new badge in scouts, complete with hearts, balloons, and thunderbolts. Children learn to celebrate the little victories day by day.

Above all, Floyd the flamingo is the perfect model of determination and hope for children and parents. Floyd heals because he embraces the help of others, a key point for children that makes asking for help a courageous and fruitful act. Just as the staff “held him on their laps at all times,” children learn that they can trust those closest to them to get through any kind of hardship. Floyd returned the love since “none of the other flamingos in the Zoo wanted to be held like that.” Recovery becomes less frightening when we learn that it can be a mutual opportunity to develop lasting friendships.

Fabulous Floyd is available now! Meet the champ and his trainers at the San Diego Zoo.


Georgeanne “George” Irvine has devoted 40 years of her colorful career to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where she is director of corporate publishing. She is the author of two dozen children’s books about animals. Photographing and learning about animals in their native habitats are passions for George. Her worldwide adventures have taken her to many of the wildest places on Earth – from the jungles, mountains, and forests of Asia and South America to the savannas of Africa as well as the Outback of Australia.