Biography – Bill Martin Junior

Bill Martin Jr is best known for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Martin wrote this book in just 15 minutes. It was published in 1967 and went on to become one of the most important and popular short children’s books in the world.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?   by Bill Martin Jr

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
by Bill Martin Jr

Bill Martin Jr. was born in 1916 and died in 2004.
Over the course of his career, Martin wrote more than 300 children’s books. He focuses on the text, and collaborates with illustrators to make cheerful, bold and colorful picture books. He attributes his rhythmic, almost song-like style to the way he creates his books. He said that he doesn’t “write” books, rather he talks them. In his own words, “I write a melody”. This is quite clear when you read his books out loud. They have a strong pace and clear rhythm that many other children’s stories lack.
Martin had a lot of experience in working with children. He worked as a a schoolteacher and a principle as well as an author. This is impressive when you consider that he did not learn to read himself until he started college. He managed to keep his illiteracy a secret while he was at school, but his inability to read was found out as soon as he went to college. He learned quickly, however, and went on to successfully earned both a Master’s Degree and a Doctoral Degree in early childhood education.
Martin wrote his most popular book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”, while he was riding the train on the way to work. He scribbled the full text for the book into the margins of his newspaper, and as it needs illustrations he chose a young but talented illustrator, Eric Carle, to work with him on the pictures for the book. Since then Carle and Martin have worked together on two other “bear books”, titled “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” and “Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?”

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