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2021 Bill Martin Jr., Picture Book Award Winner Announced

Book cover, "Not Your Nest" by Gideon Sterer

A story about a bird having to rebuild and share her home with others is the winner of this year’s Bill Martin Jr., Picture Book Award.

“The selection of this book is a welcome relief as we move beyond the current environment of social distancing,” said Dr. Roger Caswell, chair of the Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award Committee. “After Bird builds her nest, one perfect for her needs, she discovers others also think it meets their needs: a warthog, a giraffe, a zebra — just to name a few.”

The Bill Martin Jr., Picture Book Award aims to promote an appreciation of quality literature in young children across Kansas.

Gideon Sterer, the author of “Not Your Nest!,” has written six children’s books. His parents owned a wildlife discovery center near their house when he was growing up, so he is well acquainted with strange animal behavior. Sterer lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Andrea Tsurumi, the illustrator of “Not Your Nest!,” is an author, illustrator and cartoonist originally from New York who now lives and draws in Philadelphia.

“Not Your Nest!” was published by Dial Books.

Nominees for the 2022 award, along with previous years’ winners and nominated works can be found at

Each year, books are suggested by teachers, parents, communities, and librarians. A committee chooses nominations from the list of suggested books. The annual nominations are announced in the spring and, during the following winter, Kansans vote for the winning title. This provides time for children and adult interaction before voting for a winner.

The Bill Martin Jr., Picture Book Award was established in 1996 by the Kansas Reading Association. Since March 2018, the award became a statewide award presented by Emporia State University. The purpose of the award is to promote an appreciation of quality literature in young children across Kansas. The award is named for Kansas native Bill Martin Jr., American educator and author of more than 300 children’s books.

Martin graduated with a teaching certificate from Emporia State University. He worked as a teacher and principal before starting his career as a children’s book author. Through the years he gave children some of their favorite books, including “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?” (illustrated by Eric Carle), “The Ghost-Eye Tree,” “Barn Dance,” “Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom” and many more.