Bill Martin Jr. was born on March 20, 1916 in Kansas. Bill’s full name was William Ivan Martin Jr. after his father William and his mother Iva. He grew up in the small town of Hiawatha. When it came time to learn to read Bill really struggled. Mr. Martin once said he did’nt read his first full book until he entered college.
After graduating high school Bill went on to Emporia State University and was accepted into their Teaching College. Although Mr. Martin really struggled to read he truly loved books. He graduated from Emporia and went on to teach high school journalism as well as english. The beginning of Mr. Martin’s career was put on a hault when he went and fought in World War II. He was a member of the United States Air Force and during his tour with them he worked as a newspaper editor.
Bill Martin wrote his first book while he was serving in the U.S. Air Force. “The Little Squeegy Bug” was written by Bill because his brother had wanted a book to illustrate. The Little Squeegy Bug was the Martin brothers first book together but it was not their only one. They went on to write and illustrate several more books together.
In 1942 Bill married Betty Buchmann. They had two children Gary and Danielle together before they divorced in 1979. Mr. Martin never married again. Instead he focused on his career. During his lifetime he wrote over three hundred books. He worked with many illustrators but a lot of his books were illustrated by Eric Cale . Cale and Martin became good friends over the years. Bill worked close with many illustrators but none as close as Michael Sampson. Sampson and Martin collaborated on many books. They lived only one hundred yards from each other in the community that Martin named “Woodfrost.”
Bill Martin Jr. died in 2004 at his home in Commerce, Texas. Although he is no longer living his legacy will live on forever. Before he died in 1996 the Kansas Reading Association established the Bill Martin Jr. Book award. It is awarded...
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