The Year of Billy Miller (2013), written and illustrated by bestselling and award-winning author Kevin Henkes, is a book for 7-10 year old children. In it, Billy experiences his second grade year in an ordinary way. The reader discovers that ordinary is still important, and this low-key book presents interesting characters. Different aspects of Billy’s world are provided by four distinct book sections: teacher, father, mother, and sister. This book will appeal to a wide audience.
Priscilla Gilman had this to say in The New York Times Children’s Books:
“That Billy’s anxieties and problems are typical of elementary-school boys will comfort young readers. Billy is impulsive, distractible and has ‘words in his head’ that don’t always ‘make it to his mouth.’ He gets frustrated by fine motor tasks. He worries that his diorama looks as if ‘it was made by a 2-year-old’; he decides to write a short poem ‘because that would mean fewer words he might not be able to spell.’ …Billy ultimately decides his poem should be about his mother, and the features he chooses to write about reflect Henkes’s own virtues. Mama tells Billy that ‘of all the things I like, quiet might be my favorite.’ Henkes’s delightful story is restrained and vivid in just this way: forgoing the overdramatic or zany, it shows the substance, warmth and adaptability of beautifully common family love. Mama’s “when it’s quiet you can hear so much” perfectly describes the resonant power of Henkes’s vision.”
It is important to show not only the ups and downs of daily life from a child’s point of view, but also those moments of peacefulness that never last long enough.