Friday, March 20, 2009
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A doctor, Secret Service and a policeman.
What’s your favorite food?
What is your weird talent?
I can climb a tree up to the top (there’s a photo of this in his book).
Who inspires you and why?
Obama because he helps people and makes the world a better place.
Zenin Miller, the dark-haired, wide-eyed kindergartener who shares a neighborhood with President Barack Obama, doesn’t see the hassle in having police and Secret Service camped out near his home—he only sees intrigue and excitement.
He’s sure the Secret Service officers perched atop the church across from Obama’s house secretly carry dynamite in their pockets, just in case. He knows what the officers do while protecting the president’s house: "They drink coffee, tell jokes, eat doughnuts and protect Obama at the same time," he confides.
The 6-year-old, whose second-floor condo looks out over the Obama house in Hyde Park, has watched as Obama’s home became an enclosed fortress, with concrete barricades, police and Secret Service surrounding the red brick building. He’s gotten to know the head of the Secret Service detail, and he watches intently whenever the motorcade heads down his street.
To let other kids know what life is like as the president’s neighbor, Zenin and his mom Jackie recently self-published a children’s book filled with pictures of Zenin and his friends visiting all the same places where Obama and his family hang out when in Chicago.
In It’s Me Zenin! President Barack Obama’s Kid Neighbor, there are photos of Obama’s house and the construction of the barricades that went up when he decided to run for president. There’s also the bowling alley that Zenin and his friends were entering just as Obama and his girls were leaving. Intertwined with Zenin’s photos of Obama exiting his motorcade are photos of Zenin and friends in capes as they head out on missions of their own.
The idea for the book came about after he saw a television program about child slaves in India. He decided he would write a book and give the money to those kids. "He has an idea and goes with it," says Jackie. "He has lots of ideas."
With his mom’s help, Zenin started documenting the parallels between his life and Obama’s. Jackie took the photos of Zenin and his friends and helped write the text for each photo. Since publishing the book in January, Zenin has appeared on several television news programs, as well as at book signings. But the publicity hasn’t gone to his head, his mom says.
"He’s a normal 6-year-old who’s not impressed by any of this. If we go places and people say, ‘That’s the kid I saw in the book,’ he just hides behind me," Jackie says.
Zenin is already making plans for a second book, and he and his mom are going to run a camp this summer to teach other kids about photography. And, whenever possible, Zenin will continue the missions in his neighborhood. He’s always in a cape, his mom says. You never know what the president may need next.
To buy a book, go to www.thezenkids.com. All proceeds from the book go to charity.
Do you know a great kid age 14 and under who’s done something amazing? E-mail names and information to firstname.lastname@example.org.