Mary Newell DePalma illustrated A Grand Old Tree, which has sold more than 50,000 copies, as well as The Nutcracker Doll and My Chair. Her latest book is Happy School Year!, written by Susan Milord.
The Nutcracker Doll was written for her daughter Kepley. "When my daughter Kepley was 8 years old," Mary explains, "she auditioned for the Boston Ballet Nutcracker, and she got the role of flower doll. Boston Ballet's casts several hundred children in its production of The Nutcracker each year. All of the children are students at the Boston Ballet School. Kepley loved being in The Nutcracker so much that she auditioned each year until she was a senior in High School!"
Mary's love of drawing helped create the story of My Chair. "I like to draw, I always draw, I practice drawing a LOT," she says. "The story of My Chair began with practice drawings. I decided to practice drawing children. Using chairs as a theme, I drew children reading, cuddling, daydreaming, hiding, eating, and playing in, on, and under their chairs. I compiled them into a picture book dummy with simple descriptive sentences. I painted this postcard and sent it to some editors and art directors.
Mary worked a number of different jobs. She has knitted designer sweaters, interpreted for the deaf, painted signs, and worked as an apprentice engrosser and medical illustrator. "But writing and illustrating children's books is the best," she says.