The Year of Billy Miller By: Kevin Henkes
Genre: Fiction – Realistic
Published: Harper Collins Publishers – New York, NY, September 17th , 2013
Awards: Newbery Honor Book – 2014
Themes and Topics: A lovely story of a 2nd grade boy, Billy, explores his life and his various encounters along the way. The themes addressed in this children’s novel are – family, identity, and growing up.
Summary: This four chapter book covers the the interactions that Billy Miller, a 2nd grade boy, has with the three most important people in his life – his mother, father, and little sister. As the story begins Billy has been in an accident, potentially impacting his abilities in the upcoming school year – so he thinks. The school year starts out pretty rough, and along the way Billy encounters some very difficult situations, assignments, and interactions between his friends and family.
Reflection: What was the main problem that the main character faces? How is this problem similar to a problem that most children have faced before? In what way could elementary children relate to this character?
To be quite honest, Billy experiences four problems through out the book. Each chapter is dedicated to a person – mom, dad, and sister – and also a problem. Billy begins dealing with the issue of growing up, and based off a classmates rude remark he decided to switch from a “babyish” papa to dad. Within this change comes a lot of heartache as Billy is not sure how his father will take the sudden change. In the second chapter Billy battles the issue of being scared, and seeks safety and comfort from his three year old sister in the midst of the night. Lastly, in relation to his mom, he has to complete a school assignment in which he dealt with an internal battle choosing between her and his father. As well, the assignment comes with a performance and detailing information about his mom. In comparison to most children of the age, all of them go through these very similar stages. They want to grow up and be older. They do not want to be “scared,” yet somehow it occurs and somehow they must find refuge. They struggle in school – battling nerves, hurt feelings, and pressure. This book is very relatable to children in elementary school given the main characters age and the situations he goes through.