“The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes

The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  Billy Miller is entering second grade and is nervous that he may not be smart enough.  Sitting next to know-it-all Emma Sparks certainly isn’t helping his self esteem, but at least his teacher, Ms. Silver, seems nice.  His life at home can be problematic too as his artist father struggles with a creative block and his little sister Sal continues to annoy him.  Will Billy be able to navigate the challenges of 7 year old life?

My Take:  This is a gentle book that follows a character through his second grade year.  The challenges that Billy faces are nothing too extreme, mostly fretting about homework projects and dealing with an annoying classmate.  For those looking for a longer chapter book on making their way through the second grade, this is a strong choice.  Ages 7+

One Interesting Note About the Author:  According to his website, Kevin has been contemplating being a children’s author since at least his senior year in high school when “a public librarian introduced him to Barbara Bader’s American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to The Beast Within. ‘It was the first serious book about picture books, written for adults, that I had ever read,’ Henkes says, and he felt encouraged and emboldened by it.”