Doc’s book takes the scary out of child’s checkups

Dr. Chrystal de Freitas of Carmel Valley Pediatrics has used her expertise in the field to write her first children’s book, hoping to ease the anxieties and cure the uncertainties both children and parents have about their yearly visits to the doctor.

Her book, “Jake’s Kindergarten Checkup” was published in January.

“This book is based off of a scenario I’ve witnessed many times as a pediatrician: the natural nervousness accompanying the idea of vaccines, a buildup of anxiety, and finally the conquering of that fear and the empathy of siblings shining through,” Dr. de Freitas said.

Kids are able to learn more about their visits to the doctor through the story of Jake, who goes to see Dr. Dee with his sister Chloe in tow.

In promoting her book, Dr. de Freitas said she has found a new passion doing readings. She had always enjoyed reading aloud to her three now-adult children when they were growing up and the kids she reads to now are naturally drawn to the reader in the white coat armed with fun doctor’s gadgets like an otoscope.

At a reading at the Rancho Penasquitos Library last week, children inched closer and closer to “Dr. Chrystal” as she read, engaged in the words. When she finished reading, she let the children use her stethoscope to listen to their hearts.

“I listened to my heart!” one little girl exclaimed. “It was dancing!”

Dr. de Freitas has been a physician for 34 years. She has been in San Diego since 1999, coming from Ann Arbor, Mich., where she had a private practice for 11 years. Prior to that she and her husband, Dr. Jeff Bonadio, trained at University of Washington in Seattle.

“My father was a physician and my mother ran an orphanage so there just was no option,” de Freitas said of her career path. “I was genetically endowed to be a pediatrician.”

In addition to running Carmel Valley Pediatrics, her practice on High Bluff Drive she opened in 2004, she also is a health educator. Through her company Healthy Chats, she does health education seminars on complicated topics such as puberty at local hospitals and online.

In 1998 she published a book titled “Keys to your Child’s Healthy Sexuality” but she had always wanted to write a children’s book.

“I had it on my bucket list and decided this was the time to do it,” de Freitas said.

With the book, de Freitas takes difficult topics for children and simplifies them to make them easier to understand. Through Jake, children are taken along through a checkup — getting their ears checked, the doctor listening to the “lub dub” sound of their hearts and the most dreaded shots.

“All children hate vaccines, this is a way to explain what is happening,” de Freitas.

In the back of the book, there is a guide for parents to prep for checkups and relieve some of that pre-visit anxiety.

de Freitas teamed with illustrator Tammie Lyon for the book. Lyon captured de Freitas in her vision of Dr. Dee and even drew the other characters in the book to look like her staff in Carmel Valley.

de Freitas hopes that “Jake’s Kindergarten Checkup” will be a part of a program called Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that promotes early literacy into pediatric practice.

She would love to see her book help concur checkup fears at doctors’ offices nationwide.

“I hope that this book would be a gift pediatricians can give their patients,” de Freitas said.

“Jake’s Kindergarten Checkup” is available for purchase from and For more on the book and for more tips for parents, visit