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About The Book

Oge Mora’s Saturday meets Carmela Full of Wishes in this touching and whimsical picture book about a mother and child’s last trip to their local laundromat before moving away.

Every Sunday after cereal, Sam and Mom walk to the laundromat, wash their clothes, and see their friends. But this Sunday is different. Today, doing laundry means packing clean clothes in boxes to move away. Sam doesn’t want to leave their neighborhood and friends. Maybe if they hope with all their might, they can turn a washing machine into a wishing machine!

Sam’s imagination transforms the mundane into a series of wonders as they cope with change and learn the true meaning of home.

About The Author

Photo courtesy of the author

Jonathan Hillman is a graduate of Hamline University’s Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program, where he received the Walden Pond Press Scholarship for Excellence in Middle Grade Fiction. His essay and poems are featured in the Fat & Queer anthology, and he is the author of picture books Big Wig and The Wishing Machine. He lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his two cats. Visit him at JHillmanBooks.com.

About The Illustrator

Nadia Alam is a second-generation Bangladeshi Canadian illustrator. She lives in Toronto with her husband, daughter, son, and dog named Momo. The Wishing Machine is her first book for children. Visit her online at NadiaAlamIllustration.com.

Why We Love It

“Jonathan Hillman’s poetic prose is full of warmth and sweetness as we watch Sam make his wishes on the washing machine of his beloved laundromat; paired with Nadia Alam’s delightful art, Sam and his mom’s community, as well as all their dreams, come alive, making you feel every emotion packed in this story.”

—Celia L., Executive Editor, on The Wishing Machine

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 17, 2023)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665922319
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Raves and Reviews

"A generous, thoughtful celebration of community and embracing life’s transitions." - School Library Journal

★A little boy, facing the wrenching reality of moving away from the city and apartment he shares with his mother, presumably because they can no longer pay the rent, translates his desperation into magical thinking during their last visit to the neighborhood laundromat. The boy, Sam, who narrates, is upfront about not wanting to move into his grandpa's tiny trailer in another state, even though it comes with lots of candy and a small dog. He'll miss the city, their apartment, and the laundromat, filled with the same people, sounds, and smells every Sunday. He mentally converts the washing machine into a wishing machine, as the clothes cycle around to a wish-wish-wish sound. He's wishing for rent money so they can stay. Although the story is poignant, the boy's point of view and his humorous transforming of machines into magical dispensers of money makes this relatable and even cheerful, especially with him realizing, at book's end, that home is wherever he and his mother are. The illustrations, done in colored pencil, Photoshop, and Procreate, capture the urban environment and make the laundromat's washers, dryers, and vending machines fun to watch. Beautifully heartbreaking and heartening, all at once.

– Booklist, STARRED REVIEW, 10/15/2023

★Sam and Mom go to the laundromat one last time before they move in with Grandpa.

The young narrator isn’t so sure about the impending move, which will mean leaving the friends Sam and Mom see at the laundromat every Sunday. Sam makes a wish on the coins that are inserted into the machines and asks other people what theirs would be. Their answers include a new scooter, a green card, and a fluffy cat. Sam wants just one thing: “to stay in our apartment.” After the laundry is done, enough coins are left for Sam to buy cookies from the vending machine, and when the machine spits out a flood of coins (“Enough for the rent!”), it seems Sam’s wish has magically come true—though Mom gently points out they can’t keep the money. The many diverse background characters and occasional fantastical elements make for a colorful and stimulating read. Though Sam grapples with big emotions, the simple and sometimes silly text allows room for both moments of fun and those where the child’s concerns are addressed. Sam’s love for Mom and their community shines through their heavily implied poverty, and both the protagonist and readers are left with the message that despite hardship, being together with loved ones trumps everything else. Sam and Mom are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

By turns whimsical and deeply honest, this is a moving testament to the power of love in the face of change. (Picture book. 4-8)

– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW, 8/15/2023

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