Though she can’t quite remember where the idea came from, Sue Wambolt could never forget the story she dreamed up in her head and would tell to her young children. It was about a ravenous pig who lived on a quaint country farm and ate everything in site.
Twenty-six years ago, Wambolt, a teacher-turned-stay-at-home-mom, sat down at down at her desktop computer and typed out the story of Pete the Hungry Pig.
She printed it out on computer paper, covered it with a layer of peel-and-stick lamination, and tucked it away.
The plan was to do something with it, but just what she wasn’t quite sure. It was 1993, she had three little ones at home, and life was busy.
Then, life took some tragic turns.
In the year after she wrote Pete the Hungry Pig, Wambolt lost a baby in the third trimester of pregnancy and dealt with the premature passing of her mother at age 59.
Then, weeks later, she lost her home in Marlborough to a house fire.
“In the midst of all of this, the book was gone – literally and figuratively,” she said. “The computer it had been written on was lost in the fire and the one laminated copy was nowhere to be found.”
In the years that followed, Wambolt had a fourth child and her family moved to Southborough. Her kids grew up, moved out, and started families of their own. Decades went by, and she gave little thought to the lost manuscript.
It wasn’t until her oldest son, Mark, – now a father to four children of his own – started asking about Pete the Hungry Pig that Wambolt thought to look for it. She rifled through her basement, went through bins and boxes, but never found it.
By early 2018, Wambolt had given up looking for the story, figuring the one printed copy had been lost in the fire or subsequent moves. But one day she opened an old filing cabinet, and there it was.
“I was so excited,” she said. “There it was, written for my children, and now I had my grandchildren to read it to.”
This time, Wambolt knew what she wanted to do with the story. She drew up rough, stick-figure sketches to accompany the manuscript. She collaborated with local artist Havilah Racette to bring the tale to life with whimsical watercolor illustrations. She worked with a publisher, and finally turned her story into a book.
Last fall, more than two decades after it was written, the story was published.
“It was such a full-circle moment,” said Wambolt.
Throughout the book, there is a subtle nod to each of Wambolt’s nine grandchildren. Though the reader might not notice, her grandkids are excited to find their names thoughtfully weaved into the book’s illustrations.
“It makes it even more special to my family,” she said. “I figured if this was going to be my one book, I wanted to do it for them.”
The 25-page hardcover book is written in rhyme and is geared toward children 3 to 10. It is available on Amazon and at petethehungrypig.com.