The Year of Billy Miller

by Kevin Henkes

Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a mix of anxiety and excitement.... read more

Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a mix of anxiety and excitement. By the end of the first day anxiety wins out. There's a bossy girl at his table who doesn't like him. Even worse, he's worried his teacher, Miss Silver, thinks he was making fun of her (he wasn't). Billy lives with his stay-at-home artist dad, his high-school English teacher mom, and his three-year-old sister, Sal. In a novel divided into sections titled Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother, Kevin Henkes follows Billy over the course of his second-grade year by chronicling events that illuminate these four important relationships in his life. Each section follows its own arc while fitting seamlessly into the novel as a whole as Henkes skillfully relates details and events of Billy's life that will resonate with readers navigating similar social and emotional terrain. Billy wants to fit in and stand out. He wonders. He worries. He is loved, but doesn't always like what the people who love him-and whom he loves-do. Sometimes he falls short on patience as a big brother, and sometimes he excels at being wonderful. A novel substantial in every way is completely accessible to young children reading independently, or listening to it read aloud. There's plenty of white space, and occasional spot illustrations in storytelling defined by rich characterizations and fine plotting. The book is often funny, but also thoughtful and touching and serious. Life is like that when you're seven, after all. (Ages 6-9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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