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Grandma and Playgrounds Turn Things Around in New Children's Book

Courtney Pippin-Mathur of Alexandria's Rosemont neighborhood was inspired by her daughter to write and illustrate "Maya Was Grumpy."

Courtney Pippin-Mathur is having a great day, and it’s because Maya Was Grumpy.

Pippin-Mathur just had her first children’s book published, “Maya Was Grumpy.” The Rosemont mom knows about that with one 8-year-old girl and 3-½-year-old twin boys.

“The book is totally based on my daughter at 3 years old,” Pippin-Mathur told Patch over a cup of coffee at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.

The book, which is both written and illustrated by Pippin-Mathur, is about Maya who wakes up and tries to terrorize everyone in the house through her grumpy mood, including her twin brothers.

She growls at her grandmother and everyone else. Any parent who has ever had a grumpy child will love this book, but it has a special poignancy for grandparents. It’s grandma who makes Maya turn her mood around. The book is also an ode to the power of play and the magic of playgrounds. Sometimes turning that frown upside down helps when you're hanging from monkey bars.

A great theme throughout the book is that Maya’s hair is a big crazy mess when she wakes up and as she gets grumpier, it gets bigger. Once she manages a smile, her hair starts to calm down.

The book is funny, beautifully illustrated and highlights that special relationship that so many parents have with their grandchildren.

It's official release is in May, but the Barnes & Noble in Potomac Yard currently carries it.

It’s also a testament to writers with perseverance. The Texas native said she pitched the book to the publisher seven years ago, but it was rejected on the grounds that it was “too young” for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based publishing house Flashlight Press.

Three years ago they asked her to pitch it again with new sketches—and it was once again rejected.

Two years ago, they contacted Pippin-Mathur and said they would like to publish it.

Pippin-Mathur, initially a government major in college, took an art class and was hooked.

“I didn’t think of it as a viable career” at the time, she said of majoring in fine art, so she turned to illustration, adding that she prefers the ability to be more whimisical through illustration. “I like things that are expressive and kind of different.”

Pippin-Mathur plans more children’s books and one of her dreams is coming true.

“I always wanted to be a presenter at Hooray for Books!" in Old Town, she said, adding that she is ecstatic that the Old Town children’s bookstore contacted her for a reading May 11, at 2 p.m.

Pippin-Mathur is also conducting two art camps this summer at the Commonwealth Church in the Del Ray-Rosemont area for rising first through fifth-graders.


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