The Story Behind Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow by Salvatore Barbera

I’ll start in left field. I had never written a children’s book before. I had no intention of writing a children’s book. I set out to write a story that would make someone I care about laugh. Mary-Elizabeth-Spotless-Cow cover

Here’s what happened.

A few years ago my my mother-in-law, who is a great friend of mine, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had gone through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments and was feeling pretty blue. I wanted to cheer her up.  She always liked my wacky drawings of our dog Max so I decided to write a story to lift her spirits and make her laugh. I figured If I wrote a story about animals I could stick in some funny drawings.

I came up with cows. I set the story on a farm in Ohio where my sister-in-law lives. And then an idea came to me.

At the time we had a little dog named Max. We called him lots of ‘pet’ names one of which was Sweetles. He was always having those dog dreams.You know the kind. He would be sleeping  and all of the sudden his feet would start moving and then his eyes would twitch from side to side and he’d start making little whooping noises. My wife and I had often wondered what he dreamt about. So I thought: this story could actually be a Sweetles dream. And in his dream there could be a tricky social situation that needs a good resolution.

Suddenly the idea of prejudiced cows popped into my head. And how a new cow came to a farm and was ridiculed. And I thought: “What would this cow do to get the other cows to be her friend?”

The story started to unfold from beginning to end. It was all in my head and I couldn’t write fast enough. In fact I was writing and drawing with such force that I kept breaking the tip of my pencil because I wanted to get it down on paper before I lost it.  I kept at it until it was finished about five hours later.

Before I got married if you told me I’d have a mother-in-law as my close friend, I would’ve looked at you a little sideways. But I got lucky. She is a funny, kind person with a great sense of humor. And she’s not only a good friend, but an inspiration.

So I accomplished what I originally set out to do. Make her laugh. She really enjoyed the story and especially the wacky drawings of the three cows. Those are her favorites. As a bonus I discovered a new way to express myself that I really enjoy.  As a writer, I can include positive messages for both kids and adults through my books. It’s very rewarding.

That’s the story of how Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow was born.

Sal Barbera photoThank you for the opportunity to talk about my book!

– Sal Barbera

Watch the trailer:

Purchasing information: During the month of October, purchase Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow from the Sweetles website for only $12.00 (List price: $17.99). When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Visit for more information.

Sal is the author and illustrator of “A Sweetles Dream”® book series. As the Creative Director for Hartman-Barbera llc, a family media & entertainment company, he is also an animator, sculptor, painter and all around fun guy. Sal lives the phrase: “A day without laughter is a wasted day”. To that end, he uses his writing, illustrating and animation skills to create endearing characters and comedic stories.

Sal’s sense of humor and empathy for his characters explore personal and social situations in ways that makes it enjoyable for both adults and children to experience together. Born in New York City, Sal moved to North Bergen, NJ where he grew up on a steep hillside neighborhood with his four older sisters. He currently lives in sunny Arizona with his wife and artistic partner, Sheri, who he defines as his inspiration. On any given day Sal might be painting, sculpting, drawing, animating, writing or enjoying one of his favorite pastimes: cooking, television, movies and golf.

Visit Sal Barbera’s website at


Mary banner

3 thoughts on “The Story Behind Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow by Salvatore Barbera

  1. Pingback: Mrs Mommy Booknerd's Review

  2. Pingback: Mrs Mommy Booknerd’s Review |

  3. Pingback: Literal Exposure Book Feature |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s