SBI student publishes children’s book

SBI student, Brandon Hutchinson, holding his first published book "Benji"
Photo credit: Zach McNabb

Juggling a job and a demanding major in Business Administration, Brandon Hutchinson still finds time to write every day. In fact, being in the atmosphere of the School of Business and Industry (SBI) is what taught Hutchinson how to make his passion a reality.  

“Like everybody is a go-getter,” Hutchinson said. “It’s very entrepreneurial and you kind of just feed off of that energy, so it’s never a question of ‘Can I do something?’ It’s just figuring out how to do it.”

The SBI hustle that Hutchinson was exposed to, combined with the creativity and playfulness he said he had as a child, led to the Panama City native to write his first book, “Benji”.

Published this past August, “Benji” is a children’s story about a young curious boy who meets a special friend. This friend helps the boy deal with waiting to be adopted. The story deals with themes of loneliness, friendship, coming-of-age and the complex emotions of being an orphan.

Though Hutchinson was not adopted, he wanted to use “Benji” as a way to let others experience the different emotions that come with Benji’s story.

As a child, Hutchinson always felt in tune with his emotions and noticed the confusion childhood can bring. These feelings were strengthened at school where Hutchinson was of few black students, if not the only, in predominantly white classrooms from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The cover of "Benji"
Photo credit: Brandon Hutchinson

“There’s just a lot of things that come with that, a lot of adversity. Sometimes you can’t relate to people in some ways. Sometimes you’re trying to figure out why people view you a certain way when you’re just like them pretty much just in a different circumstance. So a lot of what I write about kind of feeds off of those certain emotions.”

To channel his emotions, Hutchison became a writer of poetry and short stories.

Despite sometimes getting off work in the wee hours of the morning, Hutchinson says he still finds time to watch films, read and write. A fan of Toni Morrison, one source of inspiration for Hutchinson’s writing are the conversations and events that take place when he is with his group of friends.

One member of that group of friends is Biology major Zachary McNabb. McNabb was one of the first people to read the book and hopes others will be able to relate to the story.

“What I truly enjoyed most about the book was the descriptive language and the imagery,” McNabb said. “I really appreciated how happy it made me feel! All in all, dope book!”

Since this was Hutchinson’s first published work, Hutchinson was responsible for making sure all working parts were in order. The book was read over by both of his parents and a professor before the manuscript was formatted for both print and electronic book edition. Hutchinson was resourceful, using Google and YouTube to learn how to make a book cover, where to self-publish and what the best resources were to use.

One review that stood out to Hutchinson was that of his former elementary school principal, Libbie Pippin. Pippin was in full support of the story and of Hutchinson.

“I have known Brandon since he was in elementary school. When I learned he had written a book only imagine I could what it might be about,” Pippin said. “He was always a creative, bright and talkative young man. His book did not disappoint.” 

Since the release of the book, Hutchison has been busy responding to feedback and shipping out orders. Hutchinson wants to encourage everyone to embrace who they are and know their self- worth, issues he says he struggled with as a kid.

“Just be comfortable in yourself,” Hutchinson said. “Just ‘cause you’re a little bit different doesn’t mean you’re an outcast or a loner or anything like that. I think being different is special because you bring something different to the table. That’s what I tried to aim for in this book: letting kids to know there’s nothing wrong with being a little eccentric or a little weird… I think it’s cool to be a little different.”