Give the Gift of Comfort to Children in 
In-Patient Palliative Care at Nationwide Children's Hospital

Donate a heart-warming book and a cuddly stuffed animal to sweet children when they need it the most.
Created by a mom, and inspired by a son, who have been there. Watch and scroll for details.


Books & Stuffed Polkadot

Your Gift Helps Children When They Need It Most
My Experience with Nationwide Children's Hospital In-Patient Palliative Care was Exceptional. 
They Provide Enriching Services to Kids With Life-Limiting Illnesses, Sometimes for Years. 
This Program is One More Thing They Offer to Help Families in this Very Difficult Phase of Life.

Carole Mac Featured On 

How This Book Changes Lives

Why Health Care Professionals, Literary Reviewers, and Parents 
Recommend This Book for Bibliotherapy

“The most amazing children’s book I have ever read.”

– Anita Birk, Mom of Owen, Founder of Mommies of Miracles (the largest virtual support group of mothers of children who have special health care and/or developmental needs)
“A must-read children's book for all...It is BEYOND moving and hands down the most touching and meaningful children's story I have ever read.”

-Erica Abrams Cleary
“This book is just so amazing!!! It made me see that day we received it that all my stress was not worth the energy I was allowing it to take. I spent the day swinging and playing with Ivory. GUESS WHAT!?!?! She climbed the stairs for the slide about 4 times 3 with my help and then the last time she looked at me and said “It’s my time to fly mommy.” I stood there watching her climb the stairs worried she would fall but she didn’t, she did indeed fly just like a ladybug she is.”

-Julie Isaac, Mom of Ivory, Brain Cancer Survivor
“I first heard of The Gift of the Ladybug during that last hospital stay. I ordered a copy with an Amazon gift certificate given to us by a generous and caring random Facebook friend (amazing how totally random people can touch our lives like that). It didn't arrive until shortly after he passed. I read it with Ethan (his brother) though and I gifted a copy to the boys' school. I shared it with everyone who Tarok was close to because I was so blown away at how Polkadot had captured Tarok's zest for life, his uniquely positive perspective, his acceptance of his circumstances and his refusal to let them stop him from doing anything he wanted to in his own special way....and his beyond his years wisdom. Carole captured the essence of that and put it in a book in the simplest and sweetest way.”

-Erin Donovan, Mom of Mitochondrial Warrior Tarok
“So I finally had a moment to sit down and read through my mail. To my surprise one of my special mommies sent me a signed copy of the book, "The Gift of the Ladybug", a book I had been wanting for a very long time! I sobbed as I read it. I thought how ironic that I received it on worldwide rare disease day! There are Only about 500 kids in the world with Abbey's disease, PDCD, and I was blessed to be the mommy to one of them, my ladybug..."for the rest of Polkadot's sweet life, the horses cherished the fact the (s)he was a ladybug. They slowed down their hardworking ways, perfected countless bug-a-licious recipes, sang, danced, and played with Polkadot. They even caught a glimpse of what it was like to fly."...thank you my friend, my heart needed this tonight.”

-Friend of Kerry Greenwald
"The Gift of the Ladybug" is a masterful example of bibliotherapy, beautifully presented.”

-James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review
“Your book is a gift to me because the story opens a door for dialogue with parents and families and it speaks to them parent to parent not social worker to parent…and while each child and family is unique, it also lets them know that there is someone else in the world who truly understands. Your book is a beautiful legacy, and you are helping others along their own personal journeys more than you can possibly know. I am so grateful for your help in doing this work.”

-Felicia M. Hunter, BSW, Journeys Pediatric Palliative Care, Albany Medical Center
“The Palliative Care Team here at Nationwide Children's Hospital have used her book for bibliotherapy for families whose child/children have serious medical conditions resulting in a short, beautiful life. Carole’s work, her themes and ideas, resonate with many parents facing having a very sick child. Health care professionals also admire her work for using allegory and storytelling to keep focus that a child’s short beautiful life is always the center of the medical decision making process.”

-Janine Penfield Winters, M.D., Physician Director, Palliative Care, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
The Gift of the Ladybug is a treasure unlike any other I have read. It teaches us to embrace our differences in a way that is heartfelt and honest. May we all be blessed with a ladybug in our lives as special as Polkadot.

-Jennifer Taylor, Project Manager of Bobby's Books
“The kids just raved. You and your story taught us all so much! We discussed your book before and after your school visit and the results were awe inspiring.”

-Cheryl Bussey, First Grade Teacher Kolling Elementary
“It's such a profoundly sweet story, which was so indeed true in our situation. I then decided that this year to honor Lainey I would purchase as many copies of this book that I could to donate to mine and other Obstetricians' offices and to libraries. This book would be helpful to share with young children who may experience a tragic loss within their own families and help heal hearts of grieving parents.”

-Liptrap Failey, Mom of Lainey

Amazon Reviews
Troy McMenamy Amber (TJ)
This story came to me in a flash in one of my darkest moments. I was on the way home from Cleveland Clinic after hearing the doctor say "your son TJ may not see his second birthday." I was reeling, frozen in a catatonic state, and in agonizing pain. Suddenly I began to see ladybugs and horses floating in my mind. The horses were standing exactly where my family stood earlier that as they heard the news from the doctor (somehow I knew that the horses were us). Then I saw that TJ was a ladybug! I watched as the ladybug asked the horses why they were so sad, and heard the ladybug say "But I don't know how to be a horse, I only know how to be a ladybug." This divine metaphor that flashed in my mind, and the wisdom it delivered, allowed me to find relief in that harrowing moment. When I got home, I wrote this story for TJ and was able to read it to him countless times.
Troy McMenamy Amber (TJ)
Author Carole Mac Reading THE GIFT OF THE LADYBUG to TJ for the First Time
The Gift of the Ladybug mirrors the way TJ made us feel. His eyes and demeanor would say "Mom, I'm okay. It must be this way." Not only did this story provide comfort to me and my family when we needed it most, but it helped us reframe how we looked at our circumstances. When times got hard, we embodied the story. We would remind ourselves that if TJ could face his fate with joy, laughter, love, and peace, then we could find a way to do the same. This book helped us transform fear into love, be present with our sweet boy, and cope with the grief that surfaced after his passing. My hope is that because The Gift of the Ladybug was so instrumental for me and my family, it will help you, too.

To all ladybugs, and everyone who loves them, I wish you joy, laughter, love, and most of all, peace. You are not alone. I'm sending you big hugs through the internet. And if you would like to join our ladybug community, go to,, @GiftoftheLadybug on Facebook, and @Carole.Mac on Instagram.
National Gift of the Ladybug Day January 28
A Day to Honor All Children with Critical Illnesses and Medical Differences
Benefits of the Book & Stuffed Polkadot
The Gift of the Ladybug is a magical story of acceptance through the eyes of two horses that learn their son is actually a handsome little ladybug. Inspired by the author's late son TJ, this book is a metaphor for the real life story of how TJ taught his Mom and Dad to face his progressive disease with peace, power, and love. This children's book changes lives. It has been embraced by health care professionals and literary reviewers as a tool for bibliotherapy, and has begun a movement for facing difficult diagnoses and medical conditions powerfully. It helps comfort children, parents, and communities alike. 
Polkadot is an excellent role model. As the heroic main character of The Gift of the Ladybug, Polkadot represents strength, wisdom, and love. In the story, the ladybug Polkadot teaches is horse parents that although he is very different from them, he is perfect exactly as he is. He shows them that even though he flies rather than gallops, eats bugs rather than hay, and will live a short life rather than the horses long lives, he is meant to be this way. And that he is happy. He is a perfect companion for any child who feels different, needs comfort, or wants to be reminded that they are perfect exactly as they are. Polkadot is a cuddly example for both children and parents that everything is ultimately okay. 
This magical book and stuffed Polkadot helps comfort children in many meaningful ways. Reading the story, seeing the soothing illustrations, and absorbing the message can help children feel braver, more at peace, and less alone. Cuddling stuffed Polkadot can be a powerful reminder for children to accept their lives completely, and to love themselves exactly as they are.
We are in the process of developing a program to donate books and stuffed Polkadots directly to the children and alumni of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Details to come. Additionally, we donate 2% of every book and stuffed polkadot to Make-A-Wish Metro New York to benefit critically ill children. 
The Gift of the Ladybug and Polkadot are cherished by children of all ages as well as their parents. Giving these sweet, cuddly, and meaningful gifts is a profound act of love.
About the Author

Carole Mac

Author Carole Mac is most proud of being TJ’s mom. Creating this book, and working with children with critical illnesses is the most fulfilling work in her life. After TJ passed, she created a National Ladybug Celebration Week to honor all ladybugs by donating books and creating once-in- a-lifetime experiences for children with critical illnesses. In 2022, the National Gift of the Ladybug Day was officially registered on January 28 (TJ's birthday) as holiday to honor all children with critical illnesses. She is also a food personality, sommelier, and producer. Her TV series Somm School Insider can be found on ROKU globally and She recently shot the TV pilot for FOOD BLISS in Sicily, her series that makes culinary dreams come true to find joy after hardship. Follow her on, @Carole.Mac, and @CaroleMac.

About the Illustrator

Evi Shelvia

Illustrator Evi Shelvia is a professional writer and illustrator of children’s books. She has produced 35 book titles to date in countries such as the United States, Malaysia, China,
and Indonesia. She has won several book illustration awards from Singapore and Malaysia. She gives coaching clinics and professional workshops on book illustrations, as well as participates in various literary events internationally. Evi loves drawing and reading. She lives in West Java, Indonesia with her family and her cats. Follow her on @EviShelvia, and visit her at


Books & Stuffed Polkadot

THE GIFT OF THE LADYBUG Copyright ©2012 Ladybug Publishing. All Rights Reserved
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