The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes is a great realistic fiction that Kindergarten and 1st Grade teachers will love to read aloud. Parents with kids the same age would enjoy reading this book with his/her child as well.
Fans of Beverly Cleary and Andrew Clements' books will enjoy this realistic fiction with a strong school setting and very relatable characters and situations.
If you are looking for a book after the Magic Tree House books this would make a great read for boys and girls alike.
This children's novel is not an early reader, but it's large type and characters make it a great chapter book for a good independent reader in First, Second, or Third grade. Though, I would say third grade would be the max since Billy Miller, the main character, is in second grade. Most young readers do not like to read books with main characters that are younger than he or she.
Overall, I give The Year of Billy Miller 4 out of 5 stars. It's a good book in which young readers will be able to make many Text to Life Connections. For example, Billy has a sister he loves, but he doesn't tell her. He has a Mom and Dad that care for him. Billy has similar situations with other characters at school, and he has a teacher that he likes and wants to impress. For the most part these are all relatable which is a great beginning readers.
Young readers will also enjoy the little illustrations that pop up here and there throughout the book. The illustrations add a bit to the story, and they do not take anything away from the story. Henkes did a great job with the illustrations.
All in all the story is great. It doesn't leave a huge impact or lasting impression, but it is still great. The Year of Billy Miller does not really have a big conflict, but the content and storyline is appropriate for the age level. However, the lack of depth to the storyline is the reason I took off a point.
Amazon had the following book review:
"The beginning of a new school year brings anxious moments for Billy Miller, a typical second grader at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School in a small Wisconsin town. His new teacher, Ms. Silver, uses chopsticks to hold her hair in place and know-it-all Emma Sparks is unfortunately one of his desk mates. Just as a school year is divided into quarters, the book is divided into four parts-"Teacher," "Father," "Sister," and "Mother"-each offering a new perspective on Billy's personality and development through his interactions with these well-developed characters. He begins the school year with a lump on his head from a family-vacation incident and navigates glitter homework fiascos, canceled sleepover plans, and sibling annoyances as readers see the year unfold through funny and often poignant situations. Billy himself might have been daunted by a book with more than 200 pages, but eager young readers will find this a great first chapter book to share or read solo."
Do you have a favorite Kevin Henkes book? Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Chrysanthemum may be my favorite.