The Year of Billy Miller
by Kevin Henkes
HarperCollins, 2013. 229 pgs. Intermediate.
The Year of Billy Miller is a Mr. Rogers kind of book. Nothing too wild or off the wall. You can just walk into this book, put on your sweater and your slippers, and step into Billy's life at the beginning of his second grade year. Billy is afraid he will not be smart enough because at the end of the summer he fell over a railing at the amusement park and landed on his head. But he is smart enough. With his father's help he creates a bat cave diorama; he figures out how to get back into his teacher's good graces when she thinks he is making fun of her; he tries to stay up all night but doesn't quite make that trip. Kevin Henkes' latest is gentle reading which tells the truth about young boys, their annoying little sisters, their guaranteed-to-get-you-in-trouble friends, and the snotty, superior girls who torture them in class. Plus, this is one of the few contemporary fiction books with two loving, supportive parents in the cast. Billy is very lucky, and so is his sister Sal.