Whittier Alumnae Brave the World of Publishing

February 2, 2021

By Jai Battle '22 

PJ GardnerAlumna PJ Gardner Switzer's ’95 newest children’s book, Horace & Bunwinkle, revolves around an anxious Boston Terrier and an exuberant potbellied pig who team up to solve crimes in their barnyard. 

According to Gardner, the original idea came from a news story she read about a dog and pig duo who saved their human’s life when she had a heart attack. 

“Horace is based on my own Boston Terrier, Rosie, while Bunwinkle is sort of based on me,” added Gardner in a recent interview

Gardner explained that her writing journey has not always been smooth. In fact, she shelved Horace & Bunwinkle for a number of years before getting it ready for publication. 
“I hadn’t shared [Horace & Bunwinckle] with my agent, thinking it was too broken to fix. But after sharing it with her we were able to turn it into something special. It sold pretty quickly after going on submission,” she said. 

Currently,  Gardner is working on two new books, a children’s book and a YA novel she describes as an “allegorical fairy tale.” 
Learn more on her website.  

image of Melanie Himmelright and book cover, Maggie McKind Makes Up Her MindMelanie Himmelright '95 has been teaching elementary school the past two decades in the Pacific Northwest. During the pandemic, Himmelright like many educators was challenged to teach virtually. It was during this time she was inspired to write a children’s book celebrating educators. She collaborated with a colleague on illustrations and the character Maggie McKind was created. Maggie McKind Makes up Her Mind is a concept book illustrating the use of idioms. The book creatively highlights the many talents that educators bring to their life work. Himmrlright hopes the book brings joy to teachers everywhere and will be used as a fun, interactive way to explain idioms to primary school children.

Stephanie Hui '11Occupational therapist Stephanie Hui ’11 co-wrote the interactive children’s book, The Silly Simba Adventures : Simba Meets Max and Maia

The activities in this book were specially designed to engage the child and the reader in a positive and fun way. Hui, who works at Children's Specialized Hospital, and her co-writer uniquely chose activities that use “an occupational therapy approach to promote various areas of development.” 

After graduating from Whittier with a psychology major, Hui earned a master of science and post professional doctorate in occupational therapy from Columbia University.