The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me was first published in 2009 by Azro Press, a small indie publisher of children’s books, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I lived and worked for 21 years.
This book won three industry awards: a 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a 2009 New Mexico Book Award, the 2006 New Mexico Discovery Award.
And if you are in Santa Fe on a Halloween, you will find trick-or-treaters going door to door costumed as Mrs. Iptweet and protagonist Prudy.
The rights to, and the 200 remaining copies of, Iptweet are in my hands now, with the blessing of Azro Press publisher Gae Eisenhardt, a treasured friend.
Now based in my hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I am in that wild process of finding the right literary agent and publisher to bring these stories into the big, wide world. This is a character-driven series of books that entertain and enlighten, with strong female characters, wacky plots, and humorous, heartfelt, original stories.
TO PURCHASE A COPY:
The venerable Doylestown and Lahaska Bookshops carry Mrs. Iptweet. They take phone orders and will ship.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
This book was born in the living room of an adobe house on a dirt road six miles outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, when I was part of a group of improv storytellers. Ten women, who looked well-behaved but were anything but, gathered weekly to tell stories from prompts on-the-spot. The voice of the child who narrates Iptweet came to me in this process, and I eventually began to write her stories down. Later, Mrs. Iptweet herself came to me in a dream and spelled her name three times so I wouldn’t forget it.
I took the first few stories into a children’s book writing class with author-illustrator Jennifer Owings Dewey, who has taught me everything I know about writing for young people. I worked with Jennifer for 12 years and I still meet weekly, via Skype, with the Santa Fe Writers Group. This group has birthed my writing career as well as the careers of Lizzie Foley, Janie Chodosh ,and Jillian Brasch.
I grew up in Delaware County, a suburb southwest of Philadelphia, and raised my two sons in West Mt. Airy, a leafy neighborhood of Philadelphia. I’m grad of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A few minutes after my youngest son went off to college in Montreal, I held an embarrassingly large yard sale, rented out my little rowhouse, packed a bag, and hopped a train to New Mexico where I lived and worked for the next 21 years and 54 days. I arrived in Santa Fe a visual artist, and returned to the Philly area, in 2013, a writer.
ACCOLADES FOR IPTWEET
“The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me is full of original characters with voices not heard elsewhere in literature for the young at heart: a nine-and-a-half year old Budding Cartographer, a Recycling Cowgirl Artist, a Classical Banjo Player, and, of course the magical Mrs. Iptweet, part Earth Mother, Part Good Witch. ……while reading I often “felt a giggle start to happen in me” and longed to get out my glitter pens or work on Tapping the Power of the Earth. But this story also has a serious side and there are great lessons in it about dealing with grief, loss, fear, and divorce in creative and nurturing ways….”—Jenice Gharib, Former Director of the Southwest Literary Center
“…a little bit of Mrs. Iptweet lives inside all of us – the desire to help a child grow up strong and independent.” —Jennifer Owings Dewey, Author/Illustrator of 40 children’s books, Orbis Pictus Award winner, Spur Juvenile Non-fiction Award.
“This is a must have.”—Janeen Mason, Author/ Illustrator, Ocean Commotion: Sea Turtles!, Winner of the US Maritime Literature Award
“Mrs. Iptweet is a refreshing eccentric….who reminds us that dreaming big is always in season. Barbara Mayfield remembers what the wonder and discovery of nine years old is like.”—Jonathan Richards, Journalist, Actor, Cartoonist, Illustrator
“…home sick in bed, I looked on my bookshelf for something to read and “The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me” said “PICK ME!” I read the whole book cover to cover. It is just outstanding, Barbara! I think it would make an excellent Disney movie! It spoke to and inspired My Wonderful New Life! I can’t wait for the second book, Cherie!” —Gwen Spatzier, Elementary Educator, Musician/Singer
“It was another boring day in my boring life and I wasn’t even ten yet. I came home from school and my mom was taking a nap. Her job as bookkeeper at the bookkeeping company is an early-bird job. This means she is sleepy in the afternoon when I come home from the Dullest School in the World. Her nap means I have to be quiet, quiet, and quiet. I am nine-and-a-half and being quiet is not my style. There was nothing to do but leave our boring house in search of some excitement.
Except that our street is extremely boring, too. it’s called Durham Street, as in DOOR HAM. I wish big, smart, snorty pigs lived on our street and answered the doors when I knock. That would be interesting, and our street’s name would make sense. But snorty pigs never answer the doors around here. On that dreary day in the month of March, I couldn’t take the blahness any longer. I decided it was time for Drastic Action.
I said to myself, “Self, it’s time to walk to the Corner Market and watch some crimes being committed.”
I quietly put on my blue sweater. I quietly closed the front door, and quietly tiptoed down our steps to the sidewalk. I scuffed to the corner to cross our street. I always remember to look both ways, since my mom would be really upset if I got run over. I looked to my left, down my street. No cars were coming. I saw the houses and the trees, all in rows.
So far, the most interesting things about my street are the trees. They are tall and wide. They live between the sidewalk and the curb, two long rows of big tree-ness on both sides of the street. Their name is Maple. The maple trees on my street are extremely leafy in the summer. They have bare arms in the winter. Winter is the dull time, so that is when I spy on the birds’ nests and mark their location on my maps.
On one of his visits, my dad showed me how to draw a map. He said I should start small, so I made a map of my bedroom. I drew a rectangle first, and then pretended I was looking at my room from above. I imagined I was glued onto the ceiling. Then I drew in my bed, bureau, the window, my door, the closet and my rag rug. My Gran Modesta braided real rags into a cozy, circle-shape rug just for me. When my Gran was still alive, she and I sat on my special rug and read stories together. My Gran and I liked adventure stories, especially exotic stories from foreign lands. We read from the dictionary, too, because Gran believed that words are adventures all by themselves.
I also drew onto my map my bumpy pink bedspread and the silky, heart-shaped pillow from my Aunt Belle. This pillow is full of interesting smelly leaves and twigs from the desert.
My Aunt Belle lives in the Southwest. it is all desert there. Aunt Belle is a Professional Recycling Cowgirl Artist. This means she collects interesting objects that have been squished up, stomped on, or run over. Most people think of these objects as trash. Aunt Belle attaches them together in an artistic way, always with a western theme.
Personally, I think Aunt Belle is living an interesting life. My mom thinks Aunt Belle’s career is unsanitary, so I am not allowed to pick up trash off the street to send to her, no matter how artistic it is. I promised to wear gloves and put the smashed-up stuff right into a plastic bag so that no part of the artistic trash comes into contact with any part of my body, but still the answer is No. This is another reason why my life is so dull.
After I looked down the street to my left, I looked to my right. I was glad I did because a gigantic old purple truck was barreling down the side street. I waited on the corner for it to pass, but instead, the truck slowed down and stopped in the middle of the street in front of me. The driver man rolled down his window and leaned out of his noisy purple truck.
“Hey there, Young Lady, what is the name of this street?” he yelled at me.
I used my loud voice and yelled, “Durham Street, Sir.”
I heard him say to his passenger man, “Did you hear that, Bob? This is Durham Street. All righty-rooney.”
Then the driver man yelled back to me, “Thank you kindly, Miss,” and tipped his baseball cap to me. He rolled up his window and put on his turn signal. He turned right onto my street.
I never saw a purple truck turn onto Durham Street before. Who are these guys, I wondered? What are they doing here? Maybe something interesting is going to happen on Durham Street. The last time a few moments of excitement happened around here was last summer.
Last summer at number four-o-two, Mrs. Romero’s parakeet, Señora Puff o’ Fluff, escaped. it flew right out the front door and perched on the branch of an azalea bush. There was a big hubbub, but then Mr. Miller of number four-o-four caught Señora Puff o’ Fluff in his bare hands. He offered Señora Puff o’ Fluff a piece of banana, and that was that. Our street went back to blahness.
If I ever escape from here, it will take more than a piece of fruit to get me back.”
–from Chapter One, The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me, copyright 2009 Barbara Mayfield. All rights reserved.