How This Project Started
I self-published a children’s book with a version of the Puzling characters a few months ago, called The Puzalings and the Puzville Pollution. I shared this book with the children and families to whom I provide therapy services. After receiving positive reviews on this book, I was inspired to write more stories about issues specific to the children with whom I work. A few parents asked me to write a book specific to an issue or challenge that their child faced, such as feeling different, showing anxiety in new environments, difficulty making eye contact, and fears or refusals about brushing teeth and going to the dentist. After a few months of writing, I completed four books, each addressing one of the above issues.
This was the start of The Puzling Adventures.
About The Author
Natalie Mannherz has always loved working with children. Growing up in Vermont, she taught tennis, ski racing, and piano to children of all ages. She originally focused her education on piano pedagogy before returning to graduate school to become an occupational therapist. Having completed both degrees, Natalie was able to combine the disciplines of piano education and occupational therapy.
In 2011, she opened Occupational Piano, a private studio where she provides a blend of piano lessons and pediatric occupational therapy services to children and teenagers with special needs. Natalie works with children who have diagnoses of sensory processing disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delay, generalized anxiety, and Down syndrome. She enjoys celebrating the moments of monumental progress with these children and their families.
Natalie has always written short creative stories and poems for fun, particularly as gifts to family and friends. What started as a life goal of writing one children’s book turned into something much larger after Natalie received feedback and requests from families to write additional books that highlight children with different needs and their challenges. After starting one book, she was inspired by these children and families to continue writing.
Natalie lives in Boulder, CO with her husband, dog, and son Ashlynd. She spends her free time biking, skiing, playing the piano, and writing.
About The Illustrator
Mahalia Mae Porter was born in Boulder, Colorado. She currently lives on a farm in Lyons. Her family has been greatly supportive of her art and her twin sister, Zaraha, helps her with new ideas. Her education has always been nontraditional, full of art and travel. She enjoyed drawing as a child, but her interest, and her talent, soared in her junior year in high school. Her obvious talent and creativity lead her to win two silver ad one Scholastic Gold Key, which she received at the award ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City. After graduating, she briefly attended an art college in Denver but found it too restrictive. Mae then chose to focus the next couple years on art and traveling. While traveling, she visited other art colleges. Mae has done several art shows and has also done commission work.