ABOUT THE BOOK
When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white art by the author, this is a perfect short novel for the early elementary grades.
Billy Miller struggles with finding his way through the sorts of problems one would expect for a second-grader. He starts school on a wrong note and seeks to remedy the problem with his teacher. His father's artistic block causes tension in the family until Billy finds a way to help. Billy wants to stay up all night and hopes his little sister can help him do it. But who is he supposed to write his special poem about when he loves both his mom and dad? It's a puzzle, but Billy addresses the problem with his typical aplomb.
Strengths: Billy is an adorable character, very believable and endearing. Henkes demonstrates once again his superb understanding of childhood and the sorts of things that most kids worry about. The book would be a wonderful read-a-loud as it is full of character, heart, and beautiful writing.
Weaknesses: The only problem I had with the book was the length. The book is rather long (229 pages) for the target audience which would have to be first through third grades. I'm not sure older children would pick up the book.