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.
It's my hope that this book will provide a starting place for many future conversations with your kids about their donor and conception story. The book is written in a style that is genuine, informative, casual, and easy to understand. It will be most meaningful to kids ages 4-8.
Here are some examples of the book's absolutely fantastic artwork:
Why do we need this book?
The short answer:
1. Because this is a hard subject to talk about (at first). A good book can help explain tricky concepts, normalize the subject matter, and inspire future conversations as the child grows and learns.
2. Because there aren't many contemporary books available on this subject, especially for two-mom families.
3. Because every child deserves to see positive, celebratory and beautiful representations of themselves and their families in the books they read.
My personal motivation:
When our children were around three, my wife and I knew it was time to start talking to them about their donor. In our social circle, our kids are surrounded by diverse family structures, but this diversity is rarely represented in books, cartoons, and the media in general. Our kids were noticing that most families have a mom and a dad. They were perfectly happy having two moms, but still, they were noticing. I could almost see the questions brewing in their curious heads.
I asked my friend, Alice, for some advice on what seemed like a pretty tricky topic to navigate. Her advice was perfect: talk early and often; keep it simple and honest. She recommended making a personalized book about our conception story. She told us of a book she had made for her own son, using photographs to tell the story of their family beginnings. It was his favorite bedtime story for a long time! I loved this idea, but with a two and a three year old less than 10 months apart, I was swamped! I really wanted the convenience of buying a helpful book online.
I assumed that because there were so many two-mom families out there, there must proportionately exist a plethora of wonderful donor-conception books for families just like mine. I happily began my search, but was soon disappointed. I did find a few books that technically fit the bill, but they seemed to lack some qualities that I look for in any children's book. And I just didn't want to compromise those qualities. After all, this book was extremely important to me.
I wanted a book that was well written: informative yet casual, easy to understand yet interesting. Something that tugs a little on the heartstrings or provokes a chuckle. Or both. And, oh, how I longed for a book that was illustrated by a professional and talented artist! I wanted to see a contemporary, loving, two-mom family. A family that I could relate to. In addition, I wanted a book that instilled a sense of gratitude or at least acknowledgement for the donor's genetic contribution to my children. (We don't know the identity of our donor, but we know that he contributed to 50% of our children's genetic make up. By making the subject of "donor" acceptable and accessible, we make our kids feel 100% proud of who they are.) And so, as is true for the birth of so many wonderful projects, I was inspired to make the book that I couldn't find. In addition to my personal desire for this book, I have a larger motivation:
As LGBTQ parents, we need more high-quality children's books that represent us: our love for our family, our pride in our kids, and our collective commitment to truth and equality.
Thanks to the unfailing efforts of the book's unbelievably talented illustrator, Ciaee (pronounced ji-AH-yee and, really, she's amazing — she made sperm cells look adorable), I am happy to report that the hard part is done! The book is finished and we are prepared to submit our order of 500 books to our printer in Berkeley, California the moment the funding is available.
With your help, we will begin a limited-run production of 500, 8.5" x 8.5" hardcover books with 34 pages of full-color illustrations. The end result will be a library-quality, professionally crafted, beautiful hardcover book.
After the 500 hardcover books are sold, it may be possible to place a second order for more books through stretch goals. After the hardcover books and rewards ship, I will focus on my search for a publisher for Zak's Safari.
- Print production of 500 books: $5,000
- Illustrations: $4,500
- Kickstarter and Amazon fees: 10% of funding (about $1,300 for $13,000 of completed funding)
- Shipping and packaging (allowing $5 per book): $2,500
- Total = $13,300
About the Author
Previously a trainer in the health-care industry, Christy has a master's degree in instructional design. Her first book, Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure, was self-published in 2013 and has received dozens of five-star reviews from Amazon reviewers as well as outstanding reviews from The San Francisco Book Review, Midwifery Today and many other magazines and blogs. Christy lives with her wife and two children (both donor-conceived) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Christy's goal is to produce picture books that are professionally-illustrated, clever, exciting, funny and adventurous. She wants to increase the number of quality books available to kids with gay parents. She believes in making books that include same-sex parents, but as a thoughtful detail rather than the main focus of the story.
About the Illustrator
Ciaee (pronounced ji-AH-yee) is an award-winning illustrator who holds an MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Arts University. She currently resides in San Francisco with her dear husband, Tom. She delights in making things with her hands, and finds great joy in telling stories through her pictures. You may visit her at www.ciaee.net.
About the Subject Matter Expert
Alice Ruby has been the Executive Director of The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC) since 2002 where she oversees all programs. TSBC is the only non-profit sperm bank in the US and the first sperm donation program worldwide to provide an option for donor-conceived adults to learn the identity of their sperm donor. Ms. Ruby has personally released donor identities to 110+ donor-conceived adults, matched more than 500 families with others who share their sperm donor, and provides resources and support to donors, recipients, and donor-conceived adults. She is a research collaborator with Dr. Scheib, TSBC’s Research Director, and is also the mother of a donor-conceived child. Ms. Ruby has written a wonderful foreword for Zak's Safari.
Poster, Framed Poster and Mounted Canvas Reward Choices
Choosing a poster or mounted canvas reward? Once the project is funded, you will receive an email survey allowing you to choose one of the following artwork options:
Whether you contribute a minimum amount or more to this project, you are not just helping make this book a reality; you are contributing to the collective movement of equality that is sweeping our nation. On behalf of myself, my family and all LGBTQ families and their allies...thank you!
Keep in Touch!
Along with regular Kickstarter updates, I will be posting updates, answering all your questions and generally getting super excited about the book on Zak's Safari's Facebook page! Join us and share with a friend!
Risks and challenges
The book is completed and the printer is awaiting our first order. Any setbacks that arise would probably be from unexpected production or shipping delays. However, given that our printer is experienced and local, I feel confident that the post-funding goals will be met with ease. All posters have been test-ordered and inspected personally by me. The printing company is fast and reliable and the quality of the posters is excellent.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)