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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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****The Waiting Child

How the Faith and Love of One Orphan Saved the Life of Another

by Cindy Champnella

Reviewed March 29, 2003.
St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2003.  247 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (B CHA).
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #1, Biographical Nonfiction

What a wonderful book.  On my lunch break, I meant to dip into this book for only ten minutes.  Before I knew it, I was showing up for work a half an hour late.  (Oops!)  This is a heart-warming, amazing true story of a Chinese orphan girl’s deep and abiding love for “my baby.”

When Cindy Champnella and her husband adopted a four-year-old Chinese girl, they understood that she was attached to a little boy at the orphanage who she helped care for.  They assumed that Jaclyn would forget about him within a few weeks or months.  They couldn’t possibly have been more completely wrong.

You would think that a little girl abandoned by her mother in the forest would not know anything about love.  But Jaclyn’s love for the little boy she called Xiao Mei Mei was deep and abiding.  She worried about him being scared at night without her.  She worried about him being hurt by the bigger children, and their taking food from him.  She worried that no one would take care of him and help him get dressed.

From the third day after she joined her new family, Jaclyn began a steady campaign to convince her new mama that she should become Xiao Mei Mei’s new mama.  Jaclyn asserted that she was Xiao Mei Mei’s mama, and he would be sad with her so far away.  They found, over the next two years, that Jaclyn’s love was as deep and lasting as any mother’s love.

Thank God, this story ends happily!  It would be unbearable otherwise.  Cindy Champnella beautifully captures the unfolding story of their relationship with precocious, tempestuous, tenacious and vivacious little Jaclyn and their uncertainty and suspense when they don’t know if it will even be possible to help Xiao Mei Mei.  Jaclyn is a delightful child to know, even only through the pages of a book.  Her strong and stubborn love is an inspiration.

Here’s another book I’m going to urge on everyone I know.  You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by this book. 

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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