Release Date: 9/17/2013
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About the Book: Billy Miller is about to enter second grade-and that means a lot of new things are on the horizon. Billy is growing up and he's not quite sure what to think about it or how to navigate elementary school. He wants to be a responsible member of the family, help his younger sister and his working mom and stay at home dad. Second grade is going to be quite the year for Billy Miller.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Every summer it seems like the early chapter books fly off the library shelves. As young beginning readers are starting to branch out and read chapter books on their own, books like Junie B Jones and Magic Tree House can't stay on the shelf. Yet every once in awhile I get a young reader who isn't interested in reading about girls-and there are oh-so-many titles about spunky, creative, engaging girls. So when I first read The Year of Billy Miller, I knew this was going to become my go-to book suggestion for those readers.
Billy Miller deserves a spot next to Ramona, Junie B, Clementine, and Judy Moody. He navigates his second grade year with the excitement and trepidation that comes with that age. Kevin Henkes masterfully draws on Billy's emotions to make him a relateable and realistic character. Billy wants to help out at home and enjoy "kid-ish" activities, but is also wondering if maybe it's time to grow up. He's always called his dad Papa, but isn't sure if that's really okay anymore and thinks he should try calling him Dad. He has a nemesis at school that he's just not sure what to think of. He doesn't know if his teacher really likes him or not and he's nervous about it.
Billy's little sister Sal is the perfect foil for Billy and they have the type of sibling relationship you would expect. Billy alternates between finding Sal cute and annoying and getting along and fighting with each other. Their relationship reminded me of my own siblings and Billy is your usual first born-he wants to be responsible, wants Sal to listen to him, but he always realizes that Sal is a good ally and friend.
I recently gave this book to one of my avid readers who has flown through all of the other early chapter books I've given him and he was excited to pick up a book that looked like a bigger chapter book. While the text is still simple, the length of this one is longer than your typical beginning chapter book, so it's sure to please those readers who want a longer book.
I was so excited to see The Year of Billy Miller chosen as a Newbery Honor. It's a wonderfully charming, heartfelt, funny beginning chapter book that is perfect to read aloud or read on your own. It's destined to be a classic.
Book Pairings: Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary, Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy I checked out from my local library