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The Year of Billy Miller
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The Year of Billy Miller

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  3,596 ratings  ·  685 reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Greenwillow Books
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
24th out of 95 books — 374 voters
Knock Knock by Daniel BeatyWords with Wings by Nikki GrimesCreepy Carrots! by Aaron ReynoldsFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamilloJourney by Aaron Becker
2014 Award Winners
12th out of 72 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

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I don't readily compare books to Ramona (now THERE'S a sentence opener, ladies and gentlemen). To compare any children's book to Beverly Cleary's classic series just leaves one wide open to ridicule. The Ramona books are classics for a very particular reason; they place a sturdy, hard-as-nails finger directly on an age that is traditionally forgotten. Kids between the ages of six and ten are nebulous creatures. Too old to be cute little itty bitties and too young to enjoy the rights and privileg ...more
I once had a teacher who said, if one of us was flummoxed as to the accolades given a particular work or writer, "Maybe you just weren't invited to the party." Though I'm a fan of a lot of Kevin Henkes's books, I was not invited to the party on this one. Two stars feels shabby, but "It was ok" is exactly how I feel. "Billy" has picked up lots of starred reviews and is widely considered a Newbery contender. The stories it tells--about the dread of feeling misunderstood by your 2nd grade teacher, ...more
Rachael Stein
Read it while getting an extremely painful tattoo and liked it anyway. Review to come.

ETA: here is the actual review!

When I attend ALA, I usually approach author signings in one of two frames of mind. Sometimes - probably the majority of times - I am diffident and humble, giving them a quick "thank you" and getting out of their hair. This year, however, I went with the other approach, which I'll call "wild-eyed fangirl." I hugged Laura Amy Schlitz and took a picture in her hat. I burbled and en
A story that captures the magic of ordinary things--a smile from your teacher, your love for an annoying little sister, or sharing a quiet moment with your mom. This book would be a perfect read aloud for second or third graders.
Susan Dove Lempke
It's very unusual to find a full-length novel about a second grader. The presumption in children's literature is that kids want to read about someone older than they are, or their same age at the most. They might occasionally want to look back with a mix of nostalgia and humor especially if a book is part of a series, like Cleary's Ramona books. But something like this, with over 200 pages about a second grader? Unheard of.

It's a very true and tender look at this particular second grader, Billy
Can you come of age as a second grader? Yes -- in small but meaningful ways. Kevin Henkes captures a perfect handful of them in this heartwarming and utterly wonderful book about a boy named Billy Miller who has normal kid worries as he starts (and, some months later, ends) his second grade year. He worries maybe he's not smart enough for the second grade. He worries that his teacher doesn't know he's a nice kid. But he hopes a lot too -- hopes he can succeed at staying up all night for the firs ...more
The Henk, man - The Henk.
Destinee Sutton
I really wish that, instead of a 229-page novel for 2nd graders, Henkes had written four 70-page novellas for 2nd graders. Seriously.

Newbery update: I actually had a dream last night that Billy Miller won the Newbery Medal and I was so disappointed. Turns out, it won an Honor, and I'm not so disappointed. It's nice for the Newbery committee to recognize a book for younger readers, even if I still believe this is really four books crammed into one too-long book. I will continue to think that, wh
This story of a second grader's school year, related through his experiences with the key people on his life: Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother, is just right. Billy, his sister, friends and the caring adults that inhabit his small orbit are rendered darn near perfectly and provide a rich, warm portrait of a child's inner life. The short, meaty sentences are thoughtfully constructed, and it feels like not a word is wasted in this just over 200 page beginner novel for young fans of Ramona or Clemen ...more
Billy is going into second grade, and he's a little worried he won't be able to handle it. Both his parents assure him he'll do great and will love his teacher. The year starts out a little rough: he's certain Ms. Silver doesn't like him, there's a new girl in class (Emma--a bit of a Bossy Pants) and the school work load is much higher than in first grade. But as the year progresses, Billy does find that it *is* his year, just as his mom said at the start of school. The year ends with the whole ...more
I don't normally read around this age range, and this book was a very simple read so it is fine for grades 1+, but I thought it was kind of boring. The main character goes through his second year of school in this book, and the length of the book might be intimidating to readers under second grade, but the writing style is definitely simple enough for 1st graders. So it has that going against it. Also, as I mentioned, it was boring. This book looks pretty long and intimidating, but most of that ...more
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Every once in awhile you need to pick up a book that makes you feel good. The Year of Billy Miller is certainly one of those books. Henkes use of language in this book is superb. Readers will identify with Billy, his younger sister Sal, and even his father. And where most books feature mom prominently and dad takes a more backseat role, this book is reverse. Dad is an artist who stays at home while mom works as at teacher in a high school. And thought it is the relationship that Billy has with h ...more
Chris Go
Clearly I have been reading a lot of Lemony Snicket of late. I'd say too much, but I don't think that is possible. As I read "The Year of Billy Miller", I kept waiting for the big bad thing to happen.

The book is divided into sections called Teacher, Father, Sister, and Mother. As I finished one, I would thing, oh wow, nothing bad happened in that section, does the next character have something terrible happen? When nothing bad happens to the sister, I was going crazy thinking the author was goi
When Billy suffers a head injury right before the start of his 2nd grade school year, he and his parents are worried that he is going to under-perform, or exhibit memory problems. Billy internalizes his injury and worries, is he smart enough for second grade? As he navigates through the school year, all of his different relationships are showcased in their own official sections of the book: teacher, father, sister, mother. His father is an unemployed artist looking for his big break...meanwhile ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Joan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not sure. Suggestions accepted!
This is the type of book I haven't seen for a while, and it is wonderful to read! I read the book all in one day. My one problem with the book which is why it lost the fifth star, is the question of audience. In terms of reading level, it is about a grade 3-4 book. In terms of length, it is about a grade 5-6 book. In terms of the main character, it is for second graders. My experience is that usually kids don't really want to read about kids younger than themselves. So I am not sure this would b ...more
I was pretty curious about The Year of Billy Miller because I’ve long been a fan of Kevin Henkes’s picture books and because I don’t see very many books written about or for children of this age (second grade). On the whole, I found the novel to be a really warm, gentle, and satisfying read.

The Year of Billy Miller follows Billy for a year. Billy is a little insecure going into the second grade because he hit his head pretty hard during his summer vacation and doesn’t know if there will be any
I liked this better than I've liked any of Kevin Henkes's non-picture-books. This is saying exactly nothing. (I've read three others and didn't like them.) It's okay, the writing is good, but two main problems for me: one, it didn't have any incidents that I found particularly interesting or memorable, which completely dashes the comparison to Ramona for me. There's no squished owl or doll baked in a cake or raw egg on a head or game of Brick Factory, and nothing whatsoever is dyed blue. No matt ...more
Aug 24, 2013 Jenny rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: ARC
Shelves: character, elementary
I started reading this book because sps received an ARC copy and I was bored last night and it was lying right next to me. It's about second grader Billy Miller who has a stay-at-home dad who is a struggling artist, a 3-year-old sister, and a mom who is a teacher. Billy Miller is starting a new year of school and it tells the story of his year through 4 chapters, each one focused on his relationship with the important people in his life.

Billy definitely thinks and acts like a 2nd grader and I li
Chris Murray
Kevin Henkes and I have a history. I was first introduced to his books when my daughter’s first grade teacher read Chrysanthemum to the class. She loved the book and so did I. We were hooked on Henkes. Together we read Owen, Julius the Baby of the World, Chester’s Way and Lilly’s Plastic Purse. They were all great books, with sweet illustrations, a story with a message and usually an “ah hah” moment. They also had pattern, repetition and rhythm, just like a song. I was sad when she moved on to b ...more
I was afraid to read this book because a few others' words said it was a 'teary' book, and I wondered what that meant. It's not that I'm afraid of tough topics, it's just that I couldn't imagine how an author could write something that would bring tears for younger readers. I shouldn't have worried! The Year of Billy Miller is a lovely story that started so beautifully that I read most of it last evening, then had to leave the final part until this morning. This is about a family, a mama, a pap ...more
Billy Miller worries that a lump on his head from a fall after an impulsive action over the summer leaves him not quite smart enough for second grade. His new teacher, Ms. Silver, writes a welcome letter about the Year of the Rat. His parents assure him this will be the Year of Billy Miller.

Told in 4 parts over the course of the school year, the story shows Billy's relationship to his teacher, father, sister, and mother. In each section, Billy learns something about himself and the people around
I liked some things about The Year of Billy Miller. I did. But. I didn't quite "love, love, love" The Year of Billy Miller. I liked that it balanced school stories with family stories. There would be scenes set in the classroom, with the teacher, perhaps, or with his classmates. There would be scenes set at home with Billy interacting with his dad, his mom, his sister, his best friend. I thought Henkes did a much better job with the home scenes, the family stuff, than the school stuff. I did get ...more
The Library Lady
Beverly Cleary wrote about Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins. Judy Blume wrote about Peter and Fudge and also wrote the books about Deenie and Margaret. Most of their books were written long before the Internet, cable TV or cell phones.

Henry Huggins and his coonskin cap, Margaret and Deenie and their issues, all their books are all pretty much sitting on the shelf, seldom read. But Ramona, Peter and Fudge flourish year after year, decade after decade. Why?

Because kids were kids in 1950, 1960, 1970
This was an interesting book to read as a writer, because the writing style felt surprisingly old-fashioned, with language well above what would usually be aimed at 6 or 7-year-old readers nowadays. Honestly, in terms of the style, it could easily have been published in the same year as Michael Bond's first Paddington book.

However, what really matters is how it works for the target readership - and my nearly-six-year-old really, REALLY loved it! He was totally absorbed from beginning to end. The
3.5 stars for content; 4 stars for the fact that this is long overdue for the early reader boy market. Sweet, sweet story that is perfect for early readers who are ready for something longer but aren't yet ready for something too challenging. This one is broken into four parts that could be read as separate books to make it more "doable" for the younger set. It's a sweet realistic fiction story true to the great timeless style of Kevin Henkes about a year in the life of second grader Billy Mille ...more
This book didn't wow me. I am not sure why. It is a sweet, affirming book for lower-grade kids - almost too sweet. I like the way the author deals with a lot of real issues for second graders, but sometimes they felt tied up a bit too neatly.

But, now, in writing this, I am thinking that on the surface, the issues are tied up neatly, but just below the surface, real life still goes on. The bossy girl is still bossy and difficult to deal with; the dad still worries about his work; Billy still isn
From working with elementary students for thirteen years, I can't think of a more heartwarming, true-to-life depiction of a second grade boy than readers find in The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. The personalities of Ms. Silver, Papa, Sal and Mama developed by Henkes make you wish they were in your world. Small black and white drawings sprinkled throughout the text highlight memorable points of time. This title is one to be enjoyed over and over. Whether you share it with a few or many, ...more
Another book that will be fun to read with the boy in a few years. Billy seemed like an every kid, and I mean that in the best way. I wish the conflict with Emma had been addressed more, though I did like that they didn't end up being friends; not everyone is going to be your friend and that is just fine. Probably my favorite of the newbery winners this year.
I really liked this book. I can see why it won a Newbery Honor. I loved how Billy Miller's problems were such second grade problems. I guess I was never suppose to leave elementary school, because I could see so many of my second grade students as Billy Miller. I'm going to be recommending this book to all of my second grade teachers for a read aloud.
I've read some reviews that refer to The Year of Billy Miller as a quiet book, and I agree with that description. I was really excited to read this book and I enjoyed it very much. Because I most often read middle grade fiction, at times I found myself waiting for the action; however, I do appreciate this "quiet" story for younger readers.I think Henkes' novel would make a wonderful read aloud for first or second graders; the school story, the family relationships, and the friendships will provi ...more
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Kevin Henkes became an author/illustrator when he was nineteen years old, working on a card table in his bedroom.
Today he's the author of many award-winning picture books and novels.
More about Kevin Henkes...
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“he could manage. Ms. Silver happened to be walking by” 1 likes
“Papa?” she repeated. She rolled her eyes dramatically. “That is so babyish, I can hardly believe it.” 0 likes
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