Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Year of Billy Miller

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Published 2013 by Greenwillow Books.

This beginning chapter book was a real treat. Told in four parts framed by each member of Billy's family, Henke gives us a glimpse into Billy Miller's life through Billy's eyes that is neither contrived nor saccharine. We believe Billy's school worries and feel his frustration with his younger sister. We see how he navigates real issues within his family such as his father's artistic drive and wanting to feel like more of a grown boy. The language is simple, the illustrations are sparse yet complimentary and the length works well for this age group and reading level.

Interest level: Grades 1-3
Genre: School fiction, realistic fiction

Question to the Readers: When Billy thinks that Ms. Silver has caught him making fun of her chopsticks, he feels retched and makes amends by presenting her with gifts? What was a time that you felt really bad about something you said or did? What did you do to make up for it?

Read-alikes: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt (slightly older audience)