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2018 BMJ Award Nominees

We are excited to announce the nominees for the 2018 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.

Always Remember
by Cece Meng

After Old Turtle swims his last swim and breathes his last breath, his friends lovingly remember how he impacted each and every one of them. As the sea animals think back on how much better Old Turtle made their lives and their world, they realize that he is not truly gone, because his memory and legacy will last forever. 

Illustrator: Jago
Copyright: February 16, 2016
Age Range: 3-7 years
Publisher: Philomel Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-16809-3


Chicken Story Time
by Sandy Asher

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to story time at the library, of course! The children like the chicken, the chicken likes the children, and everyone loves story time. So it’s no surprise that more children (and more chickens!) get in on the fun.

Illustrator: Mark Fearing
Publication Date: December 13, 2016
Age Range: 3-5 years
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-803-73994-4


Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range
by Michael Allen Austin

Cowpoke Clyde is plumb confused. An ad in his favorite catalog says he oughta buy a bike. He orders one, and when it comes, he mounts up and sets right off, wibble-wobblin’ down the road.

Illustrator: Michael Allen Austin
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Age Range: 4-7 years
Publisher: Clarion Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-544-37030-2


Daniel Finds a Poem
by Micha Archer

What is poetry? Is it glistening morning dew? Is it crisp leaves crunching? Could it be a cool pond, sun-warmed sand, or moonlight on the grass? Maybe poetry is all of these things, as it is something special for everyone—you just have to take the time to really look and listen.

Illustrator: Micha Archer
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Age Range: 5-8 years
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-16913-7


The Gingerbread Man Loose at the Zoo
by Laura Murray

Is there anything more fun than a class trip to the zoo? The Gingerbread Man and his classmates don’t think so, and they get to solve riddles on a WILD scavenger hunt. They meet giraffes, monkeys, and even a fox (especially scary for a Gingerbread Man!).

Illustrator: Mike Lowery
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Age Range: 5-8 years
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-16867-3


My Friend Maggie
by Hannah E. Harrison

Paula and Maggie have been friends forever. Paula thinks Maggie is the best—until mean girl Veronica says otherwise. Suddenly, Paula starts to notice that Maggie is big and clumsy, and her clothes are sort of snuggish. Luckily, when Veronica turns on Paula, Maggie’s true colors shine through.   

Illustrator: Hannah E. Harrison
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Age Range: 4-8 Years
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-525-42916-6


Plants Can't Sit Still
by Rebecca Hirsch

Do plants really move? Plants might not pick up their roots and walk away, but they definitely don't sit still! Whether it's a sunflower, a Venus flytrap, or an exotic plant like an exploding cucumber, this fascinating picture book shows just how excitingly active plants really are.

Illustrator: Mia Posada
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Age Range: 5-8 Years
Publisher: Millbrook Picture Books
ISBN-13: 978-1-467-78031-5


Shh! Bears Sleeping
by David Martin

A lilting read-aloud text and stunning pictures combine to follow these fascinating animal friends through the cycle of the year. A page of facts about bears will answer young readers' questions as they begin to explore the wonders of the natural world.

Illustrator: Lou Fancher
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Age Range: 3-7 years
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 978-0-670-01718-8


The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles
by Michelle Cuevas

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him.

Illustrator: Erin E. Stead
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Age Range: 4-8 Years
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-803-73868-3


The Water Princess
by Susan Verde

With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. She rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water.

Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Age Range: 5-8 years
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-17258-8


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.

Printable BMJ Handout

DOWNLOAD and print our 2-page 2018 BMJ Nominee Handout. It is a great resource full of pertinent information about each nominee.

2018 BMJ Bookmark

DOWNLOAD our 2018 BMJ Bookmarks so that you can help us spread the word about these amazing and newly nominated 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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