Reviews for The Year of Billy Miller

by Kevin Henkes

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Billy Miller starts off on the wrong foot with his second-grade teacher; his seat isn't next to his best friend; and he worries he may not be smart enough for school. Henkes divides his nuanced novel into four parts, each with a focus on someone in Billy's life: Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother. Together they offer a vivid portrait of a boy coming into his confidence. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.