Saturday, January 10, 2015

Welcome 2015!

Another year has gone by …and it’s time to welcome 2015 as the year of reckoning!  The threshold of a new year always fills one with hope and expectations!  Another year full of events and non-events, another year full of personal and professional highs and lows,  and  another year full of cherished memories to come! For most kids though, a new calendar year may not be as exciting as a new academic year…which probably best signifies their transition into higher classes, with greater freedom and not-to-forget greater responsibilities!:-) The younger ones couldn’t care less except to remember to mention the correct year in their date column of their work books and to parrot out New Year wishes to one and all.  Well, the older kids may seem a little cautious about welcoming the New year as it means that they are even more closer to the most dreaded period of their school lives….exams!!!  However, there is no dearth of expectations with us adults!!! Anyway, whether you expect 2015 to be a life-changing year or or a just another year to add to your profile, as parents ……you cannot deny that each passing year is only a reminder of how time flies and how fast your little ones become not-so-little ones anymore! Here’s wishing everyone a great and fulfilling year ahead!

For the start of a new year, we picked up “The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes, the author of famous picture books like “Kitten First full moon” or “Good day” or the “Lilly” series, etc. “The Year of Billy Miller”, for which he received the Newberry medal is a chapter book meant for young readers between the ages seven and twelve. Frankly,  what does a seven year’s old’s world revolve around? – parents whose mood swings he cannot figure out or a sibling who’s wailing he cannot take anymore, or school where he hates having to deal with his “show-off” classmate or his teacher in whose bad books he suddenly lands in……sounds like a familiar story? Well, seven year old Billy Miller is starting his second grade year and that’s exactly what he is going through or rather worried about! 
"The year of Billy Miller "  is thus divided into five parts spanning over one whole academic year that typically begins at fall and ends the following summer. Each part comprises of over five small chapters, starting with his new class teacher Ms. Silver whom he worries about having accidentally offended when poking fun at a fellow classmate,  followed by his dad whom he fondly calls as ‘papa’ but is later given to wonder (read worry) as being babyish, then his three year old sister Sal,  whom he claims to hate and cannot live with, only to realize that he cannot live without her either, and finally his mother whom he compares to a volcano when asked to write a poem on, as a part of his year end class project!:-) 

Each of these parts is beautifully written with crisp and tongue-in-cheek humour that is both funny and thought-provoking. The language is simple enough for emergent chapter book readers and yet provides plenty of scope for vocabulary improvement, though certain references to the American lifestyle may be a little confusing for someone who is not exposed to living abroad. But on second thoughts…having been fed with a continuous stream of American sitcoms or the popular children fiction series like Geronimo Stilton and alike, the kids these days have a better world view than we had while growing up. Though the illustrations are bare minimum, “The Year of Billy Miller” can certainly double up as a read aloud series for children too young to read independently, but patient enough for complex themes.   Believe me, even I couldn’t put the book down myself and particularly discovered that chapters “Father” and “Mother” made interesting parenting reads as well….loved “papa’s” easy-going parenting style and almost felt envious about the shared parenting/domestic responsibilities between  Billy’s parents! So the “Year of Billy Miller” has a little something for everyone! J   So here’s hoping your little one or not-so-little one’s coming year as fascinating as Billy’s Miller’s! 

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