Between balancing taking MBA classes and being director of human resources for a nonprofit organization, a Mercer student recently found time to publish her first children’s book.

Therese Mullings
Therese Mullings

In July 2022, Therese Mullings published At and Peppermint, the Fat Cat, which has been in the works since 2012. Written for children ages 4-7, it mostly focuses on helping beginning readers identify sight words.

Mullings was inspired to write the book while she was doing an internship for an early education program and noticed students did not like to read due to the difficulty level of the books that were given to them.

“I fell in love with books at a very young age in my life. Even if you can’t read the words, the pictures should still help you to be able to identify what the pages are saying,” Mullings said.

She hopes to turn her book into a series that follows At, the main character, on a journey through school and addresses different issues that children may face.

Although the book was published before Mullings started her Entrepreneurship 610 course, the class has enabled her to improve her marketing skills and knowledge of ways to turn her book into a successful series.

Mullings’ professor, Dr. Briana Stenard, has been supportive of her book and gave her constructive feedback on things she had not previously considered.

“I was excited to see the book and that it was for first-graders, so I gave it to my daughter. We read it together, and she loved it,” Dr. Stenard said. “Therese absolutely accomplished her goal. I agree as a mother that is an issue with reading books – they’re either too complicated for first-grade reading level, or there is not enough plotline.”

Dr. Stenard, who serves as associate professor of management and entrepreneurship in the School of Business, encourages her students to pursue their own endeavors and work toward goals that they are interested in. She hopes to enable her students to build their own brands and develop their ideas, so they can achieve growth.

She believes it’s important for her students to find their specific niche and pursue it, so she hopes to see Mullings continue making books with easy-to-follow storylines that are targeted to young readers.

Mullings has used knowledge from her classes in the organization she works for – Community Renewal Team in Hartford, Connecticut – as well as to garner a better understanding of how to sell her book.

“I’ve never thought about needing investors. Or why would you want to get into this market?” Mullings said. “Those are some of the things that Dr. Stenard has brought to light.”

Mullings owns 100% of the rights to her book and is focused on getting feedback so that she can leave a positive impact on children, especially those who are disadvantaged and don’t have parents who can teach them at home or can’t afford private tutors. For this reason, she is looking into having her book placed in libraries and local childcare centers.

At and Peppermint cover

At and Peppermint, the Fat Cat is available for purchase as an ebook on Kindle, in addition to the paperback book on the Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble and Target websites. The book is also available internationally in Australia, England and Jamaica.

Mullings appreciates the support she has received from Dr. Stenard and the larger community within the University and School of Business.

“For me, the goal of the book is just to make sure that kids everywhere are enjoying reading, attempting reading, learning to read,” Mullings said. “Dr. Stenard was able to see what my vision is and understand why I’m doing it. She supported me without anybody egging her on to give me the support, and I truly, truly appreciate her for that.”


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