Peter Vanderwall based Mac’s Big Wish on a bedtime story he created to tell his sons, Eric and Kenny, when they were growing up. The story was inspired by his first encounter with a therapy dog many years ago. Trooper comforted Peter’s mother and the other residents of a memory care center in upstate New York. The story was also inspired by his rescue of Sandy, a Yellow Labrador, who he found as an abandoned puppy wandering in the morning fog and who became a lifelong companion. Mac’s Big Wish is the first in a series of children’s picture story books to be published by Sophie & Sheba Books.
Peter is a screenwriter whose produced movies include Hide Away starring Josh Lucas and James Cromwell, Reverse Angle, Shadowheart, and Without Evidence, all available on Amazon Prime. His action thriller, Shore Excursion, is in pre-production for filming in the Greek isles.
Peter and his wife, Kathleen, share their time between the Pacific Northwest and Utah where they enjoy skiing, hiking, biking, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures.
Photograph by Bruce Grandin.
Mac's Big Wish
An inspiring tale for all ages, Mac’s Big Wish helps us understand the true value of friendship. After spending much of his life alone at Puddleton’s Pet Rescue watching other dogs leave happily with new owners, Mac almost gives up hope for a loving home. But then he gets a special job at Oak Knoll Care Center and learns that he too has much to give. The author supports the work of the Humane Society of the United States.
Order Mac's Big Wish
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Mac's Big Wish is a children's picture story book suggested for ages 2 through 8.
Mac's Big Wish Nominated by Oregon State Literacy Association for the 2024 Patricia Gallagher Children's Choice Picture Book Award.
Children vote for their favorite book
Founded in 1997, the award is named for Patricia Gallagher, a retired Western Oregon University professor of children’s literature, who is a former president of ORA (now OSLA). By awarding high quality children's literacy, and involving children in the process, the Oregon State Literacy Association (OSLA) fulfills its goal to promote literacy and a love of reading.
Who may vote? Oregon school children of all ages are eligible to vote. Children vote for their favorite title among five nominees. This is not a group/class vote.
When to vote? Voting occurs between September 1, 2023 and May 1, 2024.
Votes must be reported by May 1, 2024.
Kirkus Reviews is an American book review magazine. Kirkus is a credible, industry-renowned resource among authors, publishers, the media, libraries, booksellers, and readers. It is a trusted measure around the world. Here's what they said about
Mac's Big Wish.
October 15, 2022 A dog learns that each pup is special in their own way in Vanderwall’s debut picture book. Vanderwall builds the story well for newly independent readers, with simply structured sentences, repeated phrases, and fun sound words (squish-squash-squish, click-clack, squeak-squeak-squeaking). Illustrator Lillian’s two-page spread is joyful. The painterly cartoon style allows for humanlike expressions on otherwise realistically portrayed animals’ faces, and the diverse cast of humans of varying skin tones, shapes, and ages is a delight. A book for dog lovers featuring a strong lesson about the value of friendship.
Thank you for sending the five signed copies of Mac's Big Wish. Such a beautiful book with many important lessons for my grandchildren. It is likely when their books are passed down to their children they may relate our story to them!
I shall encourage that!
Janine E. Arnold
Beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated, this book is a hidden treasure waiting to be found and passed down for generations.
It's a story that will not only capture children's hearts but anyone's heart no matter how old you are. Mac's journey takes you through the emotions that we all experience. Loneliness, sadness, fear, hope, happiness, and pure joy. This story reminds us that dreams and wishes really can come true, and that no matter what,
there is always hope.
Retired Social Worker
Mr. Vanderwall, Your book, Mac's Big Wish, has been nominated for the Children's Choice Book Award for 2024. The purpose of the award is to promote a love of reading with high quality chidlren's literature. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to children's literature.
Patricia Gallagher Book Award Committee Chair
Oregon State Literacy Association
Mac's Big Wish in the Classroom
Third-grade student in Virginia appears as Mac, her favorite cuddly puppy, at school's book-character dress-up day. With parental permission.
Illustrator of Mac's Big Wish discussing art design with all first-grade students in an Oregon school. Janis Lillian read Mac's Big Wish to the students and followed up with a think-aloud about students' ideas for a book they would like to create (Mac's Big Adventure,
Mac: Super Hero.)
Mom in Virginia reads Mac's Big Wish to her son's first-grade class. With parental permission.
Free Lessons developed by classroom teachers
Dr. Susan Inman was astonished by how Mac's Big Wish could help elementary students focus on
the moral of the story and other important concepts of literacy. As a school improvement specialist
and adjunct professor at Bushnell University, she found that the expressive animals in
Mac's Big Wish helped young students understand difficult concepts like optimism and offering help.
As a professor of classroom teachers learning advanced techniques, she asked teachers to consider the developing lessons based on Mac's Big Wish. Elementary teachers in Dr. Inman's classes developed the lessons linked below. These freely contributed lessons give all teachers -- and other adults in childrens' lives -- ideas and structure. Download the lessons free-of-charge. The lessons are open source. The PDFs, maintain original formatting, are good for printing. The RTFs are great for adapting lessons for your own classroom, by letting you make revisions on most word processors.
Click below to download a free lesson in Literacy or Social Emotional Learning.
You can use the lesson as-is (PDF) or revise it to meet your needs (RTF).
The PDFs are now illustrated courtesy of Janis Lillian.
The literacy lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts-Literacy.