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THE WISHING MACHINE by Jonathan Hillman Kirkus Star


by Jonathan Hillman ; illustrated by Nadia Alam

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2023
ISBN: 9781665922302
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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 both for 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)