REVIEW: Zak’s Safari by Christy Tyner and Illustrated by Ciaee

Published: 4th December 2014

Publisher: Self published via Kickstarter

Pages: 38

Format: Hardcover Picture Book (Borrowed from a friend)

RRP: $34.99 (hardback in AUD)

4/5 Stars

Zak’s Safari is a book about donor-conceived kids of two-mom families. When the rain foils Zak’s plan for a safari adventure, he invites the reader on a very special tour of his family instead. Zak shows us how his parents met, fell in love, and wanted more than anything to have a baby—so they decided to make one.

In the first half of the book, Zak teaches us about his biological origins. Using simple but accurate language, we learn about sperm and egg cells, known-donors, donors from sperm banks, and instructions called genes that make up who we are. Zak’s enthusiasm, combined with his scientific curiosity and gratitude for his inherited “awesome genes” make him the perfect tour guide for this contemporary conception story. The second half of the book celebrates family. Gorgeous illustrations depict Zak and his two moms living the adventure of everyday life: eating meals together, playing at the beach, going for nature hikes and hanging out with friends and family.

Zak’s Safari aims to provide a starting place for many future conversations with your kids about their conception story and donor. Zak’s Safari is written in a style that is genuine, informative, casual, and easy to understand. It will be most meaningful to kids ages 4-8.

Zak’s Safari is a cute and educational picture book designed for young children to inform them on the donor process. For many parents, this is a scary topic of much confusion and heartache – after all, how and when you decide to let your child know is a big decision.

When the narrative starts the reader is introduced to Zak, a Safri tour guide who has to alter his plans to show a “rare baby albino alligator’ due to weather conditions and instead takes the reader through an ‘adventure tour’ of his family. The tour starts from when his parents first meet and goes through concepts of what conception is, through to the various pairings parents can make (same sex, two men, two women etc), to what genes are and the role they play in making us who we are and to a rough sketch of Zak’s life. Nothing is off limits, and everything is up for discussion and that in itself is one of the best things about this book.

Zak’s Safari isn’t a book that will appeal to everyone. For many it will be too confrontational, and others just too overwhelming. While I’m not a same sex parent (or a parent at all), I really admire this book for what it is doing; helping to give parents and children a safe outlet to discuss what is ultimately a very confusing and confronting concept for everyone involved.

One thing I loved about this book, was the fact that it opened with a detailed two page letter from Alice Ruby ( MPH, Excetive Director of the Sperm Bank of California and a mother through donor conception) to the reader. While this letter is aimed at the parents, it’s a helpful guide to how to handle the initial discussion of donor conception and same sex parents. The book further goes above and beyond by including a blank page for the reader’s family to record their own story journey, so that they too can understand exactly where they come from.

Zak’s Safri is an exceptional little book. With big ideas it seeks to break down the misunderstandings and prejudice against donor conceptions and help families with same sex parents, or donor conception babies, to break through the social barriers of families and their origins.

To learn more about Zak’s Safari and Christy Tyner, visit the following social networks:

Zak’s Safari Website | Facebook | Twitter

To purchase a copy of Zak’s Safri, visit the following online retailers:

Zak’s Safari website | Book Depository | Booktopia | Amazon US

 

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