May 31, 2016
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie
illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Thunder Boy’s name may be unique but it is also a big pain. His mom, Agnes, has a normal name. His sister Lillian has a normal name too — it’s even a little fancy. But he’s stuck with Thunder Boy.
And it isn’t just the name that bugs him. It’s the fact that it is his father’s name. It isn’t that he doesn’t adore his father, because clearly he does. But he wants a name of his very own. And it doesn’t help when they call him Little Thunder. That sounds like something else altogether (think poot).
Instead he wants a name that celebrates who he is. A grass dancer who loves to run, shop at garage sales, play in the dirt and ride his bike. He wants a name that celebrates who he is.
Fortunately, Dad’s a pretty perceptive guy and now that he’s gotten to know his son for a couple of years, he has the answer — a new name. Yes, I’m going to make you read the book to find out what this amazing new name is.
I have to admit that I really “got” this book. My first name is my mother’s and great-grandmother’s. My middle name is my aunt’s and my godmother’s. I wanted a name of my own too. This character definitely worked his way into my heart and I think he will have the same appeal to young readers who are very used to be second to parents, older cousins and older siblings.
I loved how much culture Alexie worked into the story without screaming “look at me!” The whole idea of earning a name will have great appeal to young readers who are trying to hammer out who they are and what they like, independent of their parents and siblings.
Yuyi Morales digital art work is full of rich colors and detailed textured. She created them by scanning boards and bricks from an antique home that stood on the location of her studio. The old building was too far gone to save, but Morales has given it new life in this artwork. The life and vigor that she has given this young character will pull you into the story.
Share this with the young reader in your life and also consider giving it as a Father’s Day gift. This is a great “Dad and Boy” story.