Exclusion Hurts Everyone: Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow by Salvatore Barbera. Book Review.

 Click here to buy Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow

This is a story about the acceptance of differences similar to Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches but more apparent. When Mary Elizabeth arrives at a farm in Ohio, the other cows reject her because she doesn’t have spots. During the night she creates her own spots with mud. The next day the other cows cheer and then spend the day playing with her. That night, she washes off the spots. The other cows don’t know what to think.

“Here’s the thing.” said Mary Elizabeth. “You all liked me with spots. We had fun. We frolicked. Played poker. And not once did you think about me having spots.” Anna Belle realized that Mary Elizabeth was right. Spots don’t make a cow.

The cows, in support and shame for their previous behavior, call a Spotless Cow Day where they whiteout all their own spots. Then all the cows dance and sing and play forever. (Obviously, it isn’t forever. Don’t mention the farmer’s gruesome plans for them.)

The illustrations, words and style suits a very young child so I would have used white paint instead of whiteout but that is being picky. There are also a few humorous asides but it is apparent that these are for the parents’ benefit. These are quite clever.

Well, Anna Belle and the other Cows were horrified. (Not mad, you had to be very careful about mad.)

There is the occasional punctuation error, a missing period here, a missing quotation mark there. But, the text flows smoothly with just enough on each page to maintain a child’s interest.

The illustrations, unfortunately, do not match the quality of the writing. The cows are two-legged oddities. The background, which was done by Sheri H. Barbara, is composed of computer graphics stamps. These aren’t too bad but they only draw attention to the awkward cows. However, some readers may like their quirkiness.

This is a picture book worth sharing with your child. It is funny, endearing, and ethical.


The author was interviewed on this blog on January 18, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


One thought on “Exclusion Hurts Everyone: Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow by Salvatore Barbera. Book Review.

  1. Thank you for the great book review Bonnie! I’m honored that you thought I used computer stamps for the entire book backgrounds. LOL! I took photos of flowers and grass and then drew the barn and the green curtains in photoshop. Love the note about Sal’s cows looking like they have 2 legs! He does have a wonderfully unique and quirky style all his own.
    Enjoyed this very much 🙂


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