Zak’s Safari: A Story about Donor-Conceived Kids of Two-Mom Families (2014) is written by Christy Tyner and illustrated by Ciaee. The narrator, Zak, is a rosy-cheeked boy stuck inside on a rainy day. He entertains himself by telling the story of his family to an imaginary audience. He begins by discussing how his moms met and fell in love. He then tells the story of his conception with the help of donor sperm. Accessible information about where babies come from follows. Finally, he talks about his very happy life with two loving, silly, caring moms.
The text begins with a note to readers by Alice Ruby, the director of The Sperm Bank of California, and a mother who used a donor to conceive. Tyner’s picture book is informative and accessible. It’s also a much-needed honest look at creating family stories that account for donor conception. The descriptions of conception are quite technical, but details can be skimmed over with a young child and elaborated on later.
This is a book that belongs in school libraries to help expand representations of family and introduce children to different ways to make families. It will also interest parents who have conceived with the help of egg or sperm donors. In fact, there are over 45 reviews on Amazon and most are parents thrilled to have a story that reflects their experience. Even more, Zak’s Safari: A Story about Donor-Conceived Kids of Two-Mom Families can be a great model for narrating one’s own family story. In fact, there is space at the end of the book for the reader to begin narrating their own story!
This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!