Billy Miller Makes a Wish
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Billy Miller Makes a Wish is the follow-up to Newbery Award-winning author Kevin Henkes' chapter book The Year of Billy Miller. In this story, Billy wishes on his birthday candles that "something exciting" will happen. Soon after, first responders arrive at an elderly neighbor's home, and Billy worries that his wish may have gone wrong. Billy expresses his concern, and others, to his parents, and they're great at soothing him. When the neighbor passes away after a long illness, Billy's mom encourages the children to make sympathy cards, and they deliver them along with home-baked brownies to the neighbor's family. When a fire starts in the chimney, Billy's mom calmly shepherds her children outside, and the incident is quickly over. Otherwise, this book is full of sweet and funny family moments, and there's a delightful surprise at the end.
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What's the Story?
BILLY MILLER MAKES A WISH starts at the beginning of summer, and the Millers are celebrating Billy's birthday. Billy makes a wish on his birthday candles for "something exciting" to happen. Just afterward, he hears sirens as an ambulance and firetruck speed up the street. Billy and his dad see their elderly neighbor, Mr. Tooley, taken from his home on a stretcher, and Billy gets a sinking feeling that his wish could be the cause of the emergency. However, his dad's very reassuring; he senses that Billy is unsettled and he manages to sooth his fear. The next day, Billy's dad, who's an artist, leaves for several days to attend an adult art camp. While Dad is away, Billy's mom navigates parenting challenges small and medium. Mr. Tooley passes away, and she encourages the kids to make sympathy cards. She enlists the kids' help to clean the basement and then runs out of steam. When she asks Billy to watch his sister, Sal, so she can take a rest, Sal gets into a pickle with magic markers. Later, a small chimney fire starts, and Billy's mom gently herds her kids out of the house so that firefighters can resolve the problem quickly. The whole family is relieved when Dad comes home, and they relish sharing stories about funny and exciting events that occurred when they were apart. In the end, the real excitement comes in the form of a surprise.
Is It Any Good?
Author Kevin Henkes pokes fun at sibling strife in this fun family story. He has a wonderful way of wonderful way of portrating family life in his books, and even amid momentary crises, they remain warm and calm in a way that's soothing to parents as well as kids. Young readers will get a lot of laughs out of Billy's embarrassment over his sister's babyish pretending, but at the same time, they'll sense lots of love and kindness in the Miller household. Henkes' spot illustrations are minimal in Billy Miller Makes a Wish, so it's really for readers who can enjoy an age-appropriate chapter book with relatable kid feelings and sibling situations.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how, in Billy Miller Makes a Wish, Billy's parents seem always to calm his fears. What's something you used to be scared of but you're not anymore? How did you get over your fear?
Billy is sometimes embarrassed of Sal, his little sister. How common is it for siblings to feel this way? Do you think he's nice to her?
Billy's really interested in bats. What animal would you like to learn more about?
- Author: Kevin Henkes
- Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: April 6, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 26, 2021
Our Editors Recommend
The Year of Billy Miller
Warm, funny story of a year in the life of a second-grader.
Sun & Spoon
Boy seeks something to remember his grandmother.
Sweet coming-of-age story teaches empathy, kindness.
For kids who love family stories and games
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