Hello Teachers and Librarians!

My picture books invite readers to actively participate: to narrate the hilarious, nearly wordless Uh-Oh!; enjoy the 'syncopated soundscape' of alliteration, onomatopoeia, and action verbs in Bow-Wow Wiggle-Waggle; ponder the life cycle of A Grand Old Tree; and wonder at the amazing journey of Two Little Birds.

I investigate the relationship between words and pictures. I have tested the range of possibilities: Uh-Oh! is wordless--the pictures are the story; Bow-Wow Wiggle-Waggle is nonsense verse made into a coherent story through pictures; Two Little Birds and A Grand Old Tree offer simple and elegant outlines of natural cycles via text, while context, detail and additional facts are illustrated; and My Chair tells one story with words and an additional narrative in the pictures.

This page includes blog posts about writing, visual literacy resources, and classroom discussion guides for some of my books.
Click the book covers below to read the classroom discussion guides.
Puppets, Coloring Pages, and other activities can be found on the Fun page.

I love to visit schools. My enrichment sessions explore the interplay of words and pictures and the creative process of making picture books. My audiences are pre-K through college. The enrichment sessions are lively and interactive; we brainstorm, imagine, and think visually. The goal of my visit is to inspire and empower students to observe, wonder, and create.

Corning Children's Center 2015 ....................................Idea

Picture books are valuable resources for addressing Common Core Standards for ELA, particularly the Speaking and Listening Standards, SL1,2, 3, and 5, but also Language and Reading standards. Picture books offer rich opportunities for examining word choices and interpreting and articulating visual information.

I also love to speak to older students, teachers, parents, and librarians about the visual language of picture books. Becoming familiar with elements of visual language adds a new dimension to our understanding of the meaning of picture books, and helps us read them to children in a way that encourages their critical thinking and observation.

My fees are $500 for a half day and $1000 for a full day, plus travel expenses if applicable. My presentation is most effective for classroom-sized groups. Shool visit and event list.

for more information, email me: mary(at)marynewelldepalma.com

 Click the picture to see a sequence about editing. Teachers will identify with my poor editor! I give him credit for always believing in my ideas, even when they are garbled and unintelligible.

Illustrations are not just decoration in picture books, they are essential for making meaning.
Watch my
Read Pictures! video

Strategies for reading picture books vary; sometimes it is best to read through and then go back and look at the pictures, while another book may require close looking as you read. Always encourage young listeners to comment and question.


Picture books promote the habit of 'close reading' because students enjoy multiple readings. Read once for the story, other times for context and detail in the illustrations, vocabulary, mood, theme, etc. Picture books are ideal tools for teaching visual literacy as well. Both of these skills are part of the Common Core curriculum. Read my Learning & Picture Books Essay

Link to blog post about writing Bow-Wow Wiggle-Waggle

Bow-Wow was a puzzle to write! Click the book to read my blog post about how I put it all together.

Click the book covers to read classroom discussion guides.

Link to A Grand Old Tree classroom discussion guide by Mary Newell DePalma

The life cycle of a tree, told as a simple and beautiful story.
Scholastic Teacher's Store

A Grand Old Tree is featured in lesson 3.1 of Perfect Pairs, Using Fiction and Non-Fiction Books to Teach Life Science by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley.

link to classroom discussion guide for Two Little Birds for Mary Newell Depalma

Two plucky little birds hatch, grow, and launch into their first journey.
Two Little Birds
was a nominee for the Florida Reading Association's 2015-16 Children's Book Award.
Project Beak is a wonderful resource for teachers, parents and students--it may answer some of the questions you have after reading Two Little Birds.

Link to classroom discussion guide for Bow-Wow Wiggle-Waggle by Mary Newell DePalma

A game of fetch becomes a wild goose chase! Giggle and wiggle with a 'syncopated soundscape' of alliteration, action verbs, rhyme, and onomatopoeia.

Link to classroom discussion guide for Uh-Oh! by Mary Newell DePalma

In this nearly wordless book, a hapless little dinosaur leaves a trail of mayhem behind him as he jumps from one disaster to another.


link to classroom discussion guide for The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma

A very young dancer achieves her goal of performing in The Nutcracker Ballet.

Link to the classroom discussion guide for The Strange Egg by Mary Newell DePalma

A young bird uses his five senses, his past experience, and a friend to figure out the things that puzzle him in this story of wonder, discovery, and friendship.

Spanish Edition

link to classroom discussion guide for My Chair by Betsy James, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma

Children gather their chairs and their imaginations to welcome a new neighbor. The neighbors are nonchalantly diverse; one of the chairs is a wheelchair. Scholastic Teacher's Store

Link to classroom Discussion guide for The Perfect Gift by Mary Newell DePalma

Hip! Hop! Plop! Lori's gift for her grandma is lost, so she and her friends work together to create a happy ending.



Link to classroom discussion guide for Rembrandt's Hat by Susan Blackaby, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma

Rembrandt the bear loses his favorite hat and searches for just the right replacement.

Coloring pages and activities related to my books can be found on my fun page.

I made a Little Free Library! #Portholelibrary. Find it on my Odd Objects Page


Happy 100th Day by Susan Milord, illustrated by Mary Newell Depalma

Does your school celebrate 100th day? Read Happy 100th Day by Susan Milord. In addition to a wonderful story, there are 100 things to count on each page.
Scholastic Teacher's Store

Dear Mary,
Thank you again for your visit. My students have been searching out your books to read! We've also had the students do some writing pieces by starting with a picture and adding details before writing. This has been VERY successful.

Patti Hoke
second grade teacher, Groton MA


Visual Thinking Strategies, (VTS), during my presentations. It is also useful when reading picture books. For more information on this method of developing visual literacy, visit these links:

Visual Thinking Strategies

The Whole Book Approach/Eric Carle Museum