Monday, February 17, 2014

The Year of Billy Miller (Kevin Henkes)

I picked up this book because others had blogged about it and because it is by Kevin Henkes. I love his book, Chrysanthemum and also the Penny books for beginning readers.  This is another great one. It was also a Newberry honor book this year.

The story is about Billy Miller, a boy who is in grade 2. There are four sections: teacher, father, sister, and mother. Each section is a number of chapters with a story that brings him and that person closer. It is really a story about ordinary things, but told in a way that is touching and rather magical.

I think this would make a good read aloud for grade 2 or even grade 3. I like that the main character is a boy, but it is still heart warming and soft, like little boys are down deep inside. He tries to do what he's supposed to do, but is still silly and boy-ish:  At the end of the book he needs to write a poem and has chosen to write one about his mom. Billy had trouble getting started. He opened his poetry journal to the first page and wrote: My Mom.  He could not think of anything else to write, so he drew a series of volcanoes in progressive stages of exploding.

He has a little sister that drives him crazy, but still he has good times with her. He moves from calling his dad Papa and his mom Mama to mom and dad, because Papa and Mama just seems so baby-ish. His best friend, Ned, and he navigate through his year of grade two together in a way. Billy declares it definitely is the year of Billy Miller.

Goodreads summary:

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 was named a 2014 Newbery Honor book by the American Library Association. 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.
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.

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