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Shaoey and Dot
Author: Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman
Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, have founded an organization called Shaohannahís Hope, which lists its mission as helping fund families who respond to Christís call to care for orphans, especially those who are adopting overseas.  The Chapmans themselves have led by example in this regard, adopting three young girls from China.  The illustrator, Chapmanís brother Jim, has also adopted from China.

The book takes place from the viewpoint of a ladybug (Dot), who follows a child left on a doorstep (Shaoey) from her abandonment to the orphanage, through her adoption into an American family.  Written in verse, it is easy to picture a companion CD with Steven singing the poetry contained therein.

The drawings are well done, and illustrate the scenes inside the orphanage particularly well.  The writing is fun to read, especially to children. This verse will put a lump in your throat, if youíre unprepared for it:

  But, then, thereís a cry thatís the saddest of all.
  In fact, itís unlike any other.
  It comes from a deep, empty place in your heart
  That can be only be filled by a mother.

As one who has also adopted from China (from the same orphanage as the Chapmans), I can attest to the accuracy of the story (minus the ladybug, of course), and the memory of the authors ­ the pictures of the hotels, Chinese countryside, and orphanages spurred a lot of memories for our family. Shaoey and Dot is an enjoyable read for children, but a treasure for those who have adopted, or considered doing so.

Brian A. Smith
14 November 2004


Walk into any major bookstore, and you'll easily find plenty of books that explain the miracle of birth to children. "Where did I come from" is, thanks to creative authors, biologists, doctors, and illustrators, no longer as daunting a question as it used to be, at least for most families with birth, or biological, children. 

However, for those with adopted children, the pictorial and literary companions to that discussion can still be hard to find - in fact, Barnes and Noble has found it appropriate to put the adoption books and the divorce books in one strange hybrid category. (As of this writing, we are still without a satisfactory explanation to that one, although the local Barnes and Noble associate was quite apologetic and understanding of our questioning this decision, apparently made by someone at corporate
headquarters.)

Perhaps, with more honest and creative works like Shaoey and Dot, written by  CCM hero Steven Curtis Chapman with his wife Mary Beth, there might be a greater call for recognition of the questions adopted children and adoptive parents have about this whole process that the Chapmans accurately refer to as the "miracle of adoption."

Shaoey and Dot is a beautifully illustrated, simple story of a baby girl, Shaoey, born in China who, in the end, is adopted by a (presumably) American family. The story is told from the vantage point of an unusually decorated ladybug who befriends the little girl. And yes, the ladybug does accompany Shaoey to her new home, helping enforce the idea of "forever families" who love and are committed to their children and siblings for life.

But it's one thing for an adult reviewer to give his approval to a book written to help a child understand the circumstances of his or her adoption. It is quite another to ask the same child for his or her opinion. So that's what we did. 

In our case, the story struck a chord with our eight-year-old, adopted from Thailand a little more than one year ago. He especially seemed to connect with the moment in the story when the child and her new parents are united, and even predicted the airplane ride that eventually showed up at the end of the book.

Based on our experience, Shaoey and Dot is not only a story that would likely help reinforce positive thoughts and feelings about his or her adoption, it is also likely to open up discussion and give a child a chance to ask honest questions while feeling safe to do so. And that's the best benefit of this book.

A coupon for the book can be downloaded at http://www.shaoeyanddot.com. Find information on the Chapman's Shaohannah's Hope organization and games for kids to play at the website, as well.

Dave Kerschbaum   3/19/2005

 

 
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