Study Guide

Papa in The Year of Billy Miller


Papa earns the title of World's Greatest Dad in this book. (By the way, we learn that his full name is Cliff Miller, but no one ever calls him that in the book, so we know him as Papa.) Not only is Papa a great hubby to Mama, he's also a seriously fun and supportive dad to Billy and Sal. He spends his days being the primary caretaker for the kiddos and making incredible art in his studio garage.

One thing we really love about Papa is how supportive he is. And he's a pretty creative guy, too. Throw those two traits together and you end up with a dad who can tackle any situation. So when Billy decides maybe he should start calling his old man Dad instead of Papa, dude doesn't miss a beat:

"Papa," he said, "can I call you Dad?"


Papa reached for his beard, tugged on it. "No more Papa." He made a sad face—a long, droopy, clown face—but Billy knew he was joking.


"Of course," said Papa, smiling. He arched his eyebrows. "Maybe one day you'll want to be called something else." (2.4.32, 34, 36)

We learn oodles about Papa here: He's funny (just check out that clown face), he's understanding, and he can see into the future. Plus, he's imaginative enough to envision a time when Billy might want to go by a new name himself. This guy sure isn't stuck in his ways. Instead, he's ready to try new things, get creative, and see what comes out—and when it comes to names, he takes the exact same attitude.

Okay, so we also have to admit that sometimes Papa can also be a wee bit of a grump. Sometimes those art projects just aren't going well and that gets him down in the dumps—he's only human, after all. But as a whole, he's a pretty chipper guy who looks on the bright side of things.