Peter Vanderwall was inspired to write Mac’s Big Wish by a bedtime story that he told his sons, Eric and Kenny, when they were growing up. He is also a screenwriter whose produced movies include Hide Away, Reverse Angle, and Shadowheart. Peter lives with his wife, Kathleen, in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy skiing, hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures. Peter supports the work of the Humane Society of the United States. Peter’s website includes free open-source lesson plans that support Mac’s Big Wish and also an email subscription signup for news and sequels.

Title by Peter Vanderwall

Mac’s Big Wish is the first in a series of children’s picture story books to be published by Sophie & Sheba Books. Peter Vanderwall and Dr. Kathleen Heide Vanderwall created Sophie & Sheba Books to publish Mac’s Big Wish and a future series of children’s picture story books about Mac and his further adventures and discoveries as a rescued dog who becomes a therapy dog.

In July 2023, the Oregon State Literacy Association nominated Mac’s Big Wish and four other titles for the 2024 Patricia Gallagher Children’s Choice Picture Book Award. Children will vote for their favorite book from September 1, 2023 until May 1, 2024. 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.

Teachers have developed lesson activities that support children learning from Mac’s Big Wish while helping master Oregon’s state standards in literacy and social emotional learning. These free lessons are available to download and use as they are or modify, at the author’s website.

Kirkus Reviews, 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.

  • by Peter Vanderwall

    Do you ever feel alone and unwanted? 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 the Corgi almost gives up hope for a loving home. But then he gets a special job at Oak Knoll Care Center and learns he too has much to give as a companion to others who also feel alone and unwanted.


  • Third Grade Student, Laurel Elementary, Junction City, OR

    I thought it was going to be a sad book, so I got ready to be resilient. Then I realized it was a happy book, so I just felt the joy – like sunshine.

  • Joy Burleigh, Happy Plants, Salem, OR

    What a great story of hope and how much we all need love, even our furry friends. The art work is beautifully illustrated and draws you into the story of Mac’s journey. Love this book and bought copies for all of my grandchildren. Hats off to the writer Peter Vanderwall for a inspiring story!

  • Amy Betz, Children's Book Editor, Tiny Tales Editing, Bethel, CT

    Every time I read this story my heart just bursts for that little dog, Mac. The illustrator has done such a nice job; she is so great with animals! And I just love her WISH art. It is perfect that Peter Vanderwall supports the Humane Society!

  • Dr. Susan Inman, Administrator and School Improvement Specialist

    One of the astonishing qualities of Mac’s Big Wish is that it allows a focus on literacy including the “moral of the story,” as well as focus on social emotional learning including optimism and offering help.

  • Laura Johnson, Retired Teacher

    This book is at the top of my short list for favorite all-time children’s books, and I’ve read a few after teaching for 30 years. The story has interwoven concepts of belonging, purpose, ethnic diversity, along with many literary techniques. These make it a rich and rewarding experience for children to learn and love reading. I’m also impressed with the links to Social Emotional Learning and literacy lessons and other educational tools on the author’s web site. Mac’s Big Wish is a real gem!

  • Sandra Hollenbeck, Human Resource Manager

    Mac’s Big Wish is beautifully written and illustrated giving bright life to every animal and human character on each page. It reminds kiddos (and even adults) that everyone has something special to offer and to never give up hope. Vanderwall makes it easy to feel empathy for Mac and wish for happiness for him. Every reader will be smiling when they finish the last page. Love this book!!

  • Tom Rastrelli, Communications Officer and Writer

    Mac’s story is one of love, belonging, patience and helping others. You’ll fall in love with all of the different and quirky characters. The illustrations are colorful, diverse and fun to explore. This heartfelt story will appeal to children and parents alike. This would also be a fantastic book for a grandparent to read to their grandkids as it has strong intergenerational themes.