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2017 BMJ Award Nominees

We are excited to announce the nominees for the 2017 Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award. We hope that you will familiarize yourself with these picture books between now and February. We will open up voting for your favorite BMJ Picture Book among the nominees. The winner of the 2017 Award will accept the award and speak at the 2017 Fall Conference on Oct. 30, 2017, in Topeka, KS.

As An Oak Tree Grows
by G. Brian Karas

This inventive picture book relays the events of two hundred years from the unique perspective of a magnificent oak tree, showing how much the world can transform from a single vantage point. From 1775 to the present day, this fascinating framing device lets readers watch as human and animal populations shift and the landscape transitions from country to city. Methods of transportation, communication and energy use progress rapidly while other things hardly seem to change at all.

Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Publication Date: September 11, 2014
Age Range: 5-8 years
Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books
ISBN-10: 0399252334

Beneath the Sun
by Melissa Stewart

When the sun is shining brightly, people put on sunscreen or scurry inside to cool off. But how do wild animals react to the sizzling heat? Journey from your neighborhood to a field where an earthworm loops its long body into a ball underground, to a desert where a jackrabbit loses heat through its oversized ears, to a wetland where a siren salamander burrows into the mud to stay cool, and to a seashore where a sea star hides in the shade of a seaweed mat. In simple yet informative language, Beneath the Sun shows young readers how the animals who live there survive the hottest time of the year.

Illustrator: Constance Bergum
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Age Range: 5-8 years
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
ISBN-10: 1561457337

Flight School
by Lita Judge

A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled. Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.

Illustrator: Lita Judge
Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Age Range: 4-8 years
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 1442481773

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears
by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear know how to rock! But they need a new singer, so they audition everyone—the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and more. To their dismay, no one seems just right. Could the perfect lead singer be the mysterious girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard? This mash up of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Voice is a surefire storytime hit.

Illustrator: Nate Wragg
Publication Date: February 6, 2014
Age Range: 5-8 years
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0399256851

I Am Yoga
by Susan Velde

An eagle soaring among the clouds or a star twinkling in the night sky . . . a camel in the desert or a boat sailing across the sea—yoga has the power of transformation. Not only does it strengthen bodies and calm minds, but with a little imagination, it can show us that anything is possible.

New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and author and certified yoga instructor Susan Verde team up again in this book about creativity and the power of self-expression. I Am Yoga encourages children to explore the world of yoga and make room in their hearts for the world beyond it.

Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
Age Range: 4-8 years
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
ISBN-10: 1419716645

Nerdy Birdy
by Aaron Reynolds

Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd. One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle. When he's at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Illustrator: Matt Davies
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Age Range: 4-8 Years
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
ISBN-10: 1626721272

A Nest is Noisy
by Dianna Hutts Aston

From the award-winning creators of An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient, and A Rock Is Lively comes this gorgeous and informative look at the fascinating world of nests. From tiny bee hummingbird nests to orangutan nests high in the rainforest canopy, an incredible variety of nests are showcased here in all their splendor. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this carefully researched book introduces children to a captivating array of nest facts and will spark the imaginations of children whether in a classroom reading circle or on a parent's lap.

Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Age Range: 5-8 Years
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 1452127132

The Night World
by Mordicai Gerstein

One night, a little boy is awoken by his cat, Sylvie. Everyone in the house is sleeping, but outside, the Night World is wide awake! Beginning with a beautiful black-and-white palette, the shadows of the Night World come to life: lilies, sunflowers, rabbits, deer, and owls are all revealed as Sylvie and the boy explore the world outside his door. But the animals all know something new is coming--what could it be? Finally, in an explosion of color, the dawn arrives.

Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Age Range: Preschool-Grade 2
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316188227

by Eileen Spinelli

Thankful, by bestselling and award-winning children’s author Eileen Spinelli, combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman, for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives. Spinelli exhibits her endearing storytelling with this engaging poem, reminding children how blessed and special they are.

Illustrator: Eileen Spinelli
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Age Range: 4-8 Years
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN-10: 0310000884

What Do You Do With an Idea?
by Kobi Yamada

This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

Illustrator: Mae Besom
Publication Date: February 1, 2014
Age Range: 3 and up
Publisher: Compendium, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1938298071

The Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award was established in 1996 by the Kansas Reading Association. The purpose of the award is to promote an appreciation of quality literature in young children across Kansas. The award is named for Bill Martin Jr, an internationally renowned author. We honor the outstanding authors and illustrators who produce outstanding literature for this audience.

The titles are suggested by teachers, parents, communities, and librarians. A committee of KRA members choose nominations from the list of suggested titles. Then the nomination list is presented to the body of KRA members to vote on, the title with the most votes wins the year's award.

Please contact Roger Caswell, BMJ award chairperson, with any questions.

2017 BMJ Bookmark


Download our 2017 BMJ Bookmarks so that you can help us spread the word about these amazing books.

Electronic Book Bag project unveiled

KRA's new Electronic Book Bag project was unveiled at the 2016 Fall Conference. Parents, students, and teachers can utilize these free electronic resources to help students engage and explore BMJ nominated and award winning picture books. Currently there are 5 book bags online with more set to be released in the coming weeks. The new website is located at www.electronicbookbags.org.

Exciting news

Bill Martin Jr.’s book Listen To Our World is being published posthumously and is available for pre-order on Amazon and at other book sites. Bill Martin had worked with Michael Sampson to complete the book before his death. Melissa Sweet illustrated the book. Plans are also set to release the book Spunky Little Monkey at a future date.

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