Review: Zeki Loves Mummy by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Ruth Hearson

From wake-up time till bedtime, baby Zeki's days with Mummy are packed with fun and excitement. From peekaboo to den-building, baby yoga to cycling, snacking to messy play, there are so many special moments to share in this adorable inclusive picture book full of love.

Written by accomplished author Anna McQuinn, this latest deceptively simple title in the highly popular Zeki series is expertly crafted with effortless rhyming couplets and comforting rhythm. And with its lightweight but durable thick-card format and rounded corners, it's perfectly pitched for children aged one or older, to share with an adult at home or nursery.

Ruth Hearson's soft, colourful illustrations draw early readers into Zeki's highly relatable world where every activity, however small, is a huge adventure. Hearson's meticulous attention to detail when capturing each mother-son activity is superb, as is her clever use of shape motifs. Repeating heart patterns adorn various household objects: the green wallpaper in the endpapers, soft furnishings, and clothing — there's even a heart on the baby lotion bottle at bath time. Love is in everything Zeki touches, cocooning him all day, every day — each page spread reinforcing the unconditional loving connection between mother and child.

Meanwhile, sun and star shapes subtly signal the passing of time. Zeki's sunny morning babygrow and then starry sleepsuit and book at bedtime are thoughtful picture cues that adults can talk about with early readers (UW). I love how Zeki's transitional toy, a cuddly green seahorse, accompanies him everywhere. Sometimes the seahorse is slightly hidden to encourage Zeki's independence but it's never too far from reach if he needs it. Young readers will enjoy spotting the seahorse in the illustrations, which is a useful prompt for talk using positional language: ‘in', 'on', and 'behind' (CAL).

Zeki Loves Mummy is a dual-purpose book speaking as much to new parents/carers as it does to children in the early years. The sheer physicality required to be a devoted parent/carer, something which is often taken for granted, is pointed up empathetically in the text. Newbie parents/carers are also gently informed about creative ideas to engage with and structure a toddler's daily routine in ways that are fulfilling for both adult and child.

This well-conceived, heartwarming, and helpful picture book celebrates the essence of toddlerhood and motherhood all at once. Perfect for very young children, it's a must for early years settings and new parents and carers alike.

Zeki Loves Mummy is available to preorder on Bookshop (release date: 28 February 2021).

Note for teachers and parents: 
The heart design seen in many of the soft furnishings and clothing in the book is inspired by Tanzanian Kitenga patterns. Check out this brilliant blog if you are interested in reading more about Tanzanian cloth.

Example Kitenga pattern

Guide for teachers and parents


Narrative: rhyming picture book

Child-led interests (EYFS)

my family, home corner/role play, cooking, den-building, messy play, ourselves

Age group (EYFS, KS1, KS2)

EY and EYFS (toddler/nursery FS1)

Curriculum links/topics (EYFS/NC)

CAL  Maths UW


storytime, shared reading with an adult, nursery library, home library, 

General features

rhyming couplets, supporting and informative illustrations, repetition of 'Mummy', mostly simple sentences

All the Black children's books that I review are checked against my Jericho Benchmark.