This book is called ‘THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER’ written by Kevin Henkes. It is based in The Year Of The Rabbit (as per the Chinese calendar) and is about an unsure boy named Billy who is just about to start Grade 2 and doesn’t have any faith in himself. Something that I noticed is that this book has 4 parts : Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother. Each is their own little story. Each story is about Billy’s relationship with the family member mentioned and each relationship helps to build Billy’s year and overcome his shyness. In one of the incidents, he is misunderstood by his teacher, Ms. Silver and he goes home and tries to think about how to clear the misunderstanding. Billy comes up with an idea and gathers all silver things like a nickel, a paper clip and a silver rabbit to give to Ms. Silver to show her that he didn’t mean to offend her. In the part of Father, Billy’s dad is still waiting for his breakthrough (an example of achieving success in a particular activity.) and Billy helps him by giving him an excellent idea. Billy has many adventures which help him to instill confidence in himself and one cute one is in the part of Sister. It is about Billy’s little sister named Sal and how Billy wants to achieve something by staying awake all night. He wakes Sal up and manages to keep her interested in staying awake and he proves to himself that he can do whatever he sets his mind on. The last part is Mother and it is about how Ms. Silver announces the learning celebration programme and Billy is asked to write a poem about a family member. Billy chooses his mom and comes up with a poem that goes like this:

Quiet Mom by Billy Miller

My mom likes a lot

She likes quiet best

Quiet can be loud if you listen

Quiet sounds like this





Quiet is a dead bird

Billy presents it on stage and that itself is a huge achievement but at the end, Billy reflects on how much he has grown in the year and picks  up all his courage to go up on stage to say, ‘This is the year of Billy Miller.’

What I like about this book:

  • I read this book as it had a medal on it and it turned out pretty good. Most of the Kevin Henkes books (e.g. Chrysanthemum and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse) are also related to this same lesson as in this book: Believe in yourself, always!
  • I didn’t have time to read it all in one go, so, I kept reading little parts but when I did finish it, I was very happy that I had chosen this book because, as a writer, I learnt a lot of interesting words that maybe I could add to my writing like ‘mesmerized’, ‘crabby’ etc..
  • In this book, the author was writing with the five senses. At one point,  he describes Billy, his sister and their babysitter in a restaurant and what they felt. In fact, I was picturing myself in the restaurant looking at lanterns and other stuff. Like a film going on in my mind.
  • I would recommend this book for children and adults alike … for those who sometimes give up really easily and don’t think they can do it. Sometimes, I feel like that too, but after reading this book, I am trying to stay positive.
  • Something that I have noticed when I read ‘The Year Of Billy Miller’ is that the author uses an animal to help explain things in the story. One of my observations in many of his other stories is that he uses a lot of animals too. He probably finds the example of animals an easy way to explain complicated things to his young readers.