I love giving presentations about sea creatures and writing nonfiction books. The ocean is full of surprises, and so are my programs!
I emphasize the excitement and challenges of doing science, using examples from my own experiences and those of the scientists I interview. Imagine dancing with an octopus, looking into the jaws of a great white shark, accidentally annoying an aggressive Humboldt squid, or tracking Adelie penguins across the Antarctic landscape.
I also share the challenges (and fun) of writing. I use PowerPoint slides with amazing images by my underwater photographer collaborators, props, samples of my books in progress, and lots of anecdotes.
“Thank you for coming to our school to share your intelligence! I learned a lot from you. It’s not every day that a person with as much experience as you comes along to share it! You are also a good example for children who think they won’t be successful in following their dreams. – Student
“I have read your book City Fish, Country Fish. That is the best book I have ever read in my life. It inspired me to read and write about sea creatures. You are the best author ever.” -Student
Mary Cerullo was wonderful! The combination of research, nonfiction, writing and photography was perfect for our upper levels students. – Brenda T., 4th grade teacher
FAQs What do you get when you bring Mary Cerullo to your school?
What does a typical school visit look like?
I usually start with an assembly program where I discuss the subjects of my ocean books. Then I do follow-up discussions with up to four smaller group sessions, where we may focus on the writing process or on a particular topic of interest. See a list of programs at Presentations.
I can do writing workshops in the smaller group gatherings, using a variety of different prompts.
I would be delighted to have lunch with students (and teachers) who may want to talk about writing or ocean life.
Sometimes, the school librarian teams up with the community librarian to share costs. I am happy to do an afternoon program at the town library as one of my workshop sessions.
Do you modify your presentations to fit the needs of the school?
I want to try to fit my programs to the curriculum, if possible, and I will highlight the topics that you and other teachers want.
What age levels are best for your presentations?
I adapt my presentations to the audience, ideally, from K-8. My books are primarily written for 3-8th grade, but I often do programs for adults, too!
I’ve found that K-2 students who are familiar with–or excited about–the topics in my books can be amazing!
What kind of set up do you prefer?
I bring published books, books in progress, props, and my own PowerPoint projector (PC) and laptop (or just a thumb drive). If it’s possible for me to set up in one room for the day, that would be ideal, as I bring a lot of stuff. If not, a wheeled cart would be very helpful.
I bring books and props, so having a long table or two to spread out is great. I will use a flip chart or white board if it’s available.
I come with my own PowerPoint projector and laptop (PC) or just a thumb drive.
When I am talking to the whole school, I may need a microphone. I do like a lavalier mike, as I move around a lot.
What “extras” do you offer?
Once I am at your school, I will do whatever you need. I’d be delighted to do an afternoon/early evening presentation for families or brainstorm with teachers at no further charge. Sometimes schools link up with the local library to offer an after-school program, where I usually do a presentation about one of my books.
Of course, I am happy to do a book signing!
What pre-visit services do you provide?
I generally correspond with the teacher/librarian who is making the arrangements, in order to learn what you are looking for and how my visit can complement the curriculum.
What post-visit service do you provide?
If individual students write to me with follow-up questions, I try to answer (I prefer email). If it’s the whole class, I may have to send a group response! I love getting students’ art or writing projects in the mail at 129 Christopher Road, North Yarmouth, ME 04097.
What do you charge for a school visit?
I request an honorarium of $800 for a full day of programs, one of which could be an afterschool presentation for families, either at the school or at your community library (which could help you share expenses!). Occasionally, if the school is not far from my home, I will do a half-day program.
I do ask for mileage at the school’s reimbursement rate. If you are farther than 75 miles one-way from North Yarmouth, I may need overnight accommodations.
You may know of other schools in neighboring districts that might want to arrange for me to do a day in their school on either side of your selected date and split travel and lodging expenses.
ALL FEES ARE NEGOTIABLE. If your school has limited funds, or if you are bringing in guest speakers through a grant, please do not let these fees deter you from contacting me about a visit, so that we can make an arrangement for a workable fee.
How far will you travel?
While travel in the short term will be restricted to my computer, I hope to resume in-person visits when it’s feasible. I can travel throughout New England. I live in North Yarmouth, Maine–12 miles from L.L. Bean! School systems that are a few hours distant have found that by arranging visits to other schools in the region, they can share the costs of my travel and lodging. I often present to 2 or 3 schools over a few days.
I am also happy to present at conferences and special events that bring together librarians, teachers, aspiring writers, and students!
How do I get in touch with you?
Call me at (207) 233-3917 or email me at email@example.com. I will try to get back to you within a day or two. Weekends are fine.
Who are you?
If you need a bio: Mary Cerullo started teaching and writing about the ocean at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Her career as a science interpreter, translating research to make it accessible for non-scientists, has allowed her to indulge her curiosity about many aspects of marine biology, oceanography, and maritime history. She likes to immerse herself in her research, as she did on a dive off Freeport, Bahamas, among 10 Caribbean reef sharks. She is the author of 21 non-fiction children’s books on the ocean. For over 20 years, she worked for the conservation organization Friends of Casco Bay, in South Portland, Maine, protecting her hometown ocean.
Do you bring books to sell?
I generally don’t keep many in stock (I have to buy them myself!), so you should order directly. Below is a list of my titles with ISBN numbers for those that are still in print. In the Books section of my website, you will find brief descriptions, and you can link to them through Amazon. A few of my other books are available as e-books or used.
Shark Expedition: A Shark Photographer’s Close Encounters, 2015, North Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books (144 pp., paperback) (Ph. 800-747-4992)ISBN 978-1-62370-156-7
Also as single volumes: Searching for Great White Sharks: A Shark Photographer’s Quest for Mr. Big (paperback or hardbound) ISBN 978-0-7565-4884-1
Seeking Giant Sharks: A Shark Photographer’s Quest for Whale Sharks, Basking Sharks, and Manta Rays ISBN 978-0-7565-4885-1
Sharks of the Deep: A Shark Photographer’s Search for Sharks and Ray at the Bottom of the Sea ISBN 978-0-7565-4886-1
Journey to Shark Island ISBN 978-0-7565-4885-8
City Fish, Country Fish, 2017, Gardiner, Maine: Tilbury House (Ph. 800-582-1899) ISBN 978-0-88448-529-2
Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster, with Clyde F. E. Roper, 2012, North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press and Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (Ph. 800-747-4992) ISBN 978-1-4296-7541-3
Life Under Ice, 2019, Gardiner, Maine: Tilbury House (Ph. 800-582-1899) ISBN 0-88448-747-0
Sea Soup: Zooplankton, 2001, Gardiner, Maine: Tilbury House (Ph. 800-582-1899) ISBN 0- 88448-219-7
Sea Secrets: Tiny Clues to a Big Mystery, with Beth Simmons, 2008, Lafayette, CO: Moonlight Pub (National Book Network, Ph. 1-800-462-6420) ISBN 978-1-63076-075-5
Other questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.