Billy Has a Birthday is the first volume in the Billy Growing Up series. The story follows Billy, a young boy who turns 10 on the tenth October - 10, 10, 10 - a once in a lifetime occasion. Billy's excitement at his 'big' birthday perfectly captures that of a child who is bordering on adolescence - each birthday seems so much more important than the last, and the move from single to double figures is one of the greatest of all.
©2014 James Minter (P)2016 James Minter
On Billy's birthday, he is over the moon to be given a £20 note by his granddad. No more silly children's toys, he can finally buy what he wants. At the age of 10 this seems like a huge amount of money - more than Billy has ever owned. Things take an unpleasant turn when the local bully hears about Billy's birthday present, and forces him to give it up - or else. Billy, like many other children his age, agrees to the bully's demands.
Billy is devastated to have lost his special birthday present, but he attempts to keep the situation a secret from his mum and granddad. He has nothing to be ashamed of, but has convinced himself that the adults in his life will be cross if they find out what has happened. Like many bullied children he feels he cannot turn to anyone for help. Fortunately, luck is on Billy's side, and his best friend's little sister finds out about the bully and tells Billy's granddad. Together they are able to hatch a plan to get the note back and to ensure the bully gets what's coming to him!
Billy Has a Birthday is a wonderful example of a story that young children can enjoy listening to together with their parents. Using traditional storytelling, it is entertaining while dealing with a serious issue that affect many children as they grow up. Bullying can be a difficult subject for children to talk about, and many feel frightened or embarrassed if they fall victim to bullying. This book acts as the perfect icebreaker for adults and children to begin discussing these issues.
The message in the book is clear - you can't rid the world of bullies but you can do something about how you deal with them.