Billy Miller Makes a Wish

Billy Miller Makes a Wish cover
Billy Miller Makes a Wish by Kevin Henkes

By Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2021
192 pages

Ages 7-10

On his eighth birthday, Billy Miller blows out the candles on his cake and makes a wish that something exciting would happen. A few minutes later there are sirens in the street outside; Billy’s 92-year-old neighbor, Mr. Tooley, has died.  In the week that follows, while Billy’s artist dad is away at an art camp, Billy, his little sister Sal, and his start cleaning the basement, a project soon abandoned, but not before a bat in the basement complicates Billy’s admiration for the animal, and the discovery of his parents’ old love letters make him cringe. Mom naps a lot, and Sal is a force to be reckoned with, whether asking Mr. Tooley’s family to give back the sympathy cards she drew, using Billy’s new birthday markers to draw butterfly tattoos all over her legs (they don’t wash off), or playing post office and delivering their parents’ old love letters to the neighbors. The week unfolds in a string of events ranging from poignant to comical in their authenticity. Through it all, as he was in The Year of Billy Miller, Billy, who is white, is patient, thoughtful, slightly anxious (wondering if his birthday wish is why Mr. Tooley died, worrying about his dad being away) and both very much singular and very much eight in a story that, like its predecessor, gives perfect weight to the interior life of a child, and is perfect for newly independent readers.  ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center