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.

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 becauseThe 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.

Benefits of the Book & Stuffed Polkadot


The Gift of the Ladybugis 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 ofThe 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 having the privilege of working with children with critical illnesses and their families the most fulfilling work she’s ever done. After TJ passed, she created a Ladybug Celebration Week to honor all ladybugs by donating books, visiting hospitals, and creating once-in- a-lifetime experiences for children with critical illnesses. She is also a food personality, sommelier, content creator, writer, and producer. Her latest series Somm School Insider can be found on and ROKU. She is an expert in creating “food bliss” adventures to heal grief. Follow her on, @CaroleMac, and @Carole.Mac.

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