“It was the first day of second grade and Billy Miller was worried. He was worried that he wouldn’t be smart enough for school this year.”
The Year of Billy Miller (Greenwillow/HarperCollins) sucked me in with that opening paragraph. Why? I totally related to it. Mine were not the same worries as Billy’s, but my worries weighed just as heavily on me. Like the first day of kindergarten. How would my mom know when to pick me up? Or in first grade. Would my friends remember me when I returned to class after a week at home with the chicken pox? Or what if I said my old lines instead of the new ones I was given for the 4th grade play?
I was Billy. Billy was me.
Always wondering and worrying about things, and often under the surface.
When Billy worried that his teacher might think he was mocking her when his actions were directed at the annoying Emma Sparks? I still cringe at my blunders … way back in school and as recently as yesterday.
When Billy wanted to try and prove he was just as good as Emma? Don’t we all?
When Billy wanted to call his father Dad instead of Papa because he was afraid of sounding like a baby? Things like that, too.
Kevin Henkes has both narrowed the focus of this coming-of-age book to the life of a second grade boy AND he has masterfully written a story that I can relate to even now.
So often people say there’s little room for quiet literature these day. The thing is, with the type of universal actions and emotions Kevin Henkes has packed into The Year of Billly Miller? There would be room for books like this every day.
This is one to read. This is one to share. With kids of all ages. Especially your inner child.
(Full disclosure: The year of Billy Miller probably came onto my radar either with a Tweet on its release day or, most likely, with an entry on the Greenwillow blog. Yes, Greenwillow is my publisher, too, but this review is totally driven by my own love for the book and not, in any way, to suck up to my publisher.:)
This review is part of Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.