Newbery Honor Books are runners-up to the Newbery Medal, which the American Library Association awards yearly to the most distinguished American literature for children. Henkes was a Newbery Honor recipient in 2004 for Olive's Ocean and a Caldecott Medal recipient in 2005 for the picture book Kitten's First Full Moon.
The Year of Billy Miller is a novel about a second grader with many worries. Over the course of a year, he develops better relationships with his teacher, his little sister and his parents.
A longtime Madison resident, Henkes was born in Racine, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Henkes received a call informing him of the honor at 5:35 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, while he was still in bed.
"It was a pleasant surprise," he says, adding that authors always know more or less when the announcements will be made for the year their books came out. "Many years you hope to get the call, and it doesn't come."
This year it did.