The Year of Billy Miller

Overview

A 2014 Newbery Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller

Award-winning, nationally bestselling author Kevin Henkes introduces second-grader Billy Miller in this fast-paced and funny story about friendship, sibling rivalry, and elementary school. The Year of Billy Miller includes black-and-white art by Kevin Henkes and is perfect for fans of the Ramona books; Frindle, by Andrew Clements; and the Clementine series....

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The Year of Billy Miller

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Overview

A 2014 Newbery Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller

Award-winning, nationally bestselling author Kevin Henkes introduces second-grader Billy Miller in this fast-paced and funny story about friendship, sibling rivalry, and elementary school. The Year of Billy Miller includes black-and-white art by Kevin Henkes and is perfect for fans of the Ramona books; Frindle, by Andrew Clements; and the Clementine series.

The New York Times declared: "Henkes's delightful story is restrained and vivid . . . forgoing the overdramatic or zany, it shows the substance, warmth and adaptability of beautifully common family love." When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. This is a perfect short novel for the early elementary grades.

A 2014 Newbery Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book (starred review)
“A vivid yet secure portrait of a boy coming into his confidence . . . [with] a comfortable rhythm perfectly suited to young readers. . . . Nuanced and human.”
Booklist
“A story with a lot of heart.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Thoughtful kids able to tackle a book of this length will enjoy reading this on their own, but it would also make a fine choice for reading aloud in the classroom or home.”
New York Times
“Henkes’s delightful story is restrained and vivid in in just this way: forgoing the overdramatic or zany, it shows the substance, warmth and adaptability of beautifully common family love.”
The New York Times Book Review - Priscilla Gilman
The adults in the novel help Billy and his younger sister, Sal, in the same way that Henkes helps his child readers, not didactically but organically, by recognizing their vulnerability, sanctioning their anxiety, and encouraging them to face challenges with confidence and ingenuity…That contemporary novels for elementary school aged boys about ordinary family life are so rare makes this one all the more welcome…Henkes's delightful story is restrained and vivid…forgoing the overdramatic or zany, it shows the substance, warmth and adaptability of beautifully common family love.
Publishers Weekly
It’s the Year of the Rabbit, according to Billy Miller’s new second-grade teacher. It’s also the year of several dilemmas for the boy, including the fear he might “start forgetting things” due to bumping his head while on vacation over the summer. Then there’s the habitat diorama that Billy is assigned—the bat cave he creates doesn’t turn out quite like he’d hoped. Henkes’s (Junonia) gentle slice-of-life novel, divided into four sections, humorously examines these and other plights while capturing the essence of Billy’s relationships with four significant figures in his life: his teacher (who he accidentally insults on the first day of school); his stay-at-home, struggling-artist father; his sometimes annoying, sometimes endearing three-year-old sister; and his mother, about whom Billy must compose a poem to be presented at the end of the school year. Each segment introduces a new conflict that Billy manages to resolve without too much fuss or torment. The book’s clear structure, concrete images, and just-challenging-enough vocabulary are smartly attuned to emerging readers, and its warmth, relatable situations, and sympathetic hero give it broad appeal. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Kevin Henkes once again shows a masterful understanding of a child’s inner life in this gentle, meticulously observed chronicle of one boy’s second grade year. Billy starts second grade worried that the lump on his head, leftover from a tumble during summer vacation, may make him “not smart enough for second grade.” Soon, other worries emerge as well: that his teacher will think he was making fun of the chopsticks anchoring her hair when he mimed devil horns on the head of insufferable Emma; that his artist father’s crabbiness will persist while waiting for a creative breakthrough; that his sister Sal will continue to annoyingly and endlessly dote on the wonderfully named “Drop Sisters,” a family of five nearly identical plush whales (Raindrop, Dewdrop, Snowdrop, Gumdrop, and Lemondrop, soon to be joined by Coughdrop); that he will hurt Papa’s feelings if he writes his assigned poem about Mama instead. The small events of Billy’s life--that is, the kind of events that seem small to most adults but impossibly large to the children who experience them--are honored in Henkes’s clear-eyed, compassionate gaze. Henkes knows that when a usually good-natured parent raises his voice it feels “as if something in the universe had shifted.” He knows that a child believes he can will himself to stay up all night long, and in the morning he’ll be “a different person.” Kevin Henkes knows, and children can be grateful to have him as their chronicler and champion. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D. AGERANGE: Ages 7 to 10.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—The beginning of a new school year brings anxious moments for Billy Miller, a typical second grader at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School in a small Wisconsin town. His new teacher, Ms. Silver, uses chopsticks to hold her hair in place and know-it-all Emma Sparks is unfortunately one of his desk mates. Just as a school year is divided into quarters, the book is divided into four parts-"Teacher," "Father," "Sister," and "Mother"-each offering a new perspective on Billy's personality and development through his interactions with these well-developed characters. He begins the school year with a lump on his head from a family-vacation incident and navigates glitter homework fiascos, canceled sleepover plans, and sibling annoyances as readers see the year unfold through funny and often poignant situations. Billy himself might have been daunted by a book with more than 200 pages, but eager young readers will find this a great first chapter book to share or read solo.—Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Billy Miller's second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way. Billy's year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections--Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother--offer different and essential focal points for Billy's life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving. The wonderfully self-possessed Sal, his 3-year-old sister, is to Billy much as Ramona is to Beezus, but without the same level of tension. Her pillowcase full of the plush yellow whales she calls the Drop Sisters (Raindrop, Gumdrop, etc.) is a memorable prop. Henkes offers what he so often does in these longer works for children: a sense that experiences don't have to be extraordinary to be important and dramatic. Billy's slightly dreamy interior life isn't filled with either angst or boisterous silliness--rather, the moments that appear in these stories are clarifying bits of the universal larger puzzle of growing up, changing and understanding the world. Small, precise black-and-white drawings punctuate and decorate the pages. Sweetly low-key and totally accessible. (Fiction. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062268143
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/26/2015
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 458,903
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author of Junonia, Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Books The Year of Billy Miller and Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers Little White Rabbit, My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including the Penny books for beginning readers, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kevin Henkes is the author of Junonia, Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Books The Year of Billy Miller and Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers Little White Rabbit, My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including the Penny books for beginning readers, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

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    1. Hometown:
      Madison, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 27, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Racine, Wisconsin
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin, Madison
    2. Website:

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