Publishers Alanna Max recent publication, Zeki Gets a Check Up was an instant hit with both my little ladies and this is the first book I have shared on the blog from Alanna Max.
Alanna Max, formerly known as Alanna Books, are publishers that aim to produce books representing everybody, inclusive of all but at the core producing great stories for young readers. Their series of Lulu books have proved very popular and have won many awards. My girls are yet to meet Lulu but they have now met her little brother Zeki who is absolutely adorable.
Written by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Ruth Hearson this is a book that will familiarise young readers with what to expect during a visit at the doctors.
This is not the first picture book all about Zeki and since those books he has matured and is able to do a great more many things. The book shares how independent he is becoming and explores all the things he now loves. His loves are not too dissimilar to what my youngest enjoys and sharing the book with her I could see how relatable young Zeki was to her.
Zeki’s supportive parents ensure that he is well prepared for his doctors appointment and get Zeki excited about his visit. Zeki packs his blanket and his well loved Mister Seahorse and they are good to go.
The book shares what happens during Zeki’s check up. It clearly shows you what apparatus the doctor uses to check different things and these pages are sure to be remembered to a young reader when they are having their developmental checks or dare I say it, immunisations.
The sweet illustrations are so appealing and ooze cuteness. Zeki is a beautiful brown skinned boy representing an underrepresented minority in UK children’s picture books. Zeki’s doctor is female and it is Zeki’s Daddy who takes Zeki for his check up. This read is not shy from embracing the realities of today rather then conforming to what has previously been done.
I think this book is brilliant and we are all pleased to have been introduced to Zeki. It is a book that explores new experiences in a very inviting and simple way, embracing the diverse world in which we live in.
Red Reading Hub
Jill Bennett's Reviews of Children's Books
Lulu’s little brother is now a playful toddler drinking from his own cup and feeding himself. It’s the day he’s going for a health check and having helped pack his bag, Daddy and the infant are ready to visit the clinic.
Once there they have to wait their turn so Zeki is glad he’s got his favourite Mister Seahorse to play with but it’s not too long before it’s their turn.
Zeki is happy to show what he can do; he’s weighed and measured, has his eyes, ears and heart checked and is given a jab to help him stay healthy. He leaves with a well-deserved sticker, a new book and a cheery farewell wave from the health practitioner.
Full of warmth, reassuring, and as with all the books in this series, inclusive and beautifully portrayed.
Definitely one to add to the bookshelves of those with toddlers be that at home or in a nursery setting.
Parents in Touch
This warmly inclusive series about Lulu and Zeki is perfect for introducing little children to new experiences. The characters are true to life and children will readily identify with the way Zeki feels - portrayed as much through Ruth Hearson's emotive illustrations as in the text. Zeki is growing up (and the book shows how) and today he's off to the clinic to show the doctor just what he can do. The book offers lots of opportunity for parents and carers to explain what will happen and to reassure their child. Practical and reassuring - and a fun story to share.
Let them be small
On Harry's Bookshelf
Finally, he has also enjoyed the Zeki Gets a Checkup book. I like this series of books from Alanna books as they’re a bit of a cross over from board books to soft back picture books; the pages are all sturdy with nice rounded corners and it really helps that transition. The stories are always relatable for the children, and I know we will be looking at this a lot more once H turns two and prepares for various health checks.
The Letter Press Project
Karen Argent - April 2018
This is the third picture book in a delightful series with baby Zeki as the central character. As with all books produced by this publisher, the emphasis is on portraying an ordinary child’s eye view of, what is to them, a series of extraordinary experiences. What I mean is that they show events that are probably part of every child’s routine but the first time that they happen to individuals, it is easy to miss how exciting and stimulating they are. So in the same way that the first book showed us Zeki going to a Baby Club and the second one enjoying going swimming with his dad, this one describes how he fully participates in his first developmental check up at the doctor’s.
The strong image on the cover sets the tone for what is to follow with Zeki sitting in the centre between his dad and the doctor who is listening to his chest with the stethoscope. All three are smiling and together with the title, this suggests that, although very young, Zeki is in charge of what is going to be a positive experience. The first few pages show other examples of him doing lots of things for himself and growing in independence. For instance, he is drinking from his cup without any help but is encouraged by his mum and dad who are looking adoringly at him. I know that the author is very conscious of making the children in her stories appear as active and capable rather than depicting the more usual passive and dependent characteristics.
The bold colourful illustrations definitely help with this overall atmosphere and help define Zeki as an assertive little boy who can already do lots of impressive stuff. Dealing with the impending experience of a check-up is clearly going to be another triumph.
Dad always plays a very important role in this family and so helps Zeki to pack his bag in preparation for the visit. In a turn of the page they are in the doctor’s waiting room and it’s good to see them waiting alongside a range of other equally cheerful children and parents as he waits for his turn.
Apart from being a story about a memorable character, there is also enough information about the check-up to provide reassurance about a similar real world experience. Zeki appears to still be in overall charge because the first encounter with the doctor shows him demonstrating what he can do and her looking suitably impressed. Then she checks his height, weight, eyes, and heartbeat and the text hints that he is to be congratulated for being so healthy.
I found the page showing him being given a jab rather amusing because everyone is still smiling broadly as the syringe approaches his arm. Choosing to show the moment just before the injection actually happens does at least keep the message a positive one because I suspect in the moments that follow, Zeki’s good mood is likely to have changed to a much less happy one!
This is a charming little story that would be very well received by children, parents and practitioners. At the end of the check-up Zeki gets a sticker and a new book as a reward and I liked the way that this image fills a double page spread with his joyful face as he eagerly touches the book and the focus is on him with only parts of the adult’s faces showing. He is the star of the story after all. The final pages show him leaving the surgery presumably ready and eager for more adventures.
ZEKI GETS A CHECKUP by Anna McQuinn [Alanna Books E9.10] Zeki, Lulu’s now equally famous brother, is due for a check up. Everthing is handled very calmly and we notice how grown up little Zeki has become, but his milestones have to be checked in the local clinic. The usual handclapping test precedes registration of height and weight, before eyes, ears and heartbeat are checked. A tiny pinprick injection doesn’t seem to bother Zeki and soon he is on his way home having been rewarded with a new book to read. This cheerful multicultural book will be ideal for parents to prepare toddlers for their first milestone checkup, but do remember the reward that Zeki gets or a very different milestone could be reached! Age one +