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Thunder Boy Jr.
Cover of Thunder Boy Jr.
Thunder Boy Jr.
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Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.

National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son.

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.

National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 8, 2016
    Echoes of Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian resonate in this vibrant first-person tale, illustrated in a stormy palette by Morales (Niño Wrestles the World). “I am the only Thunder Boy who has ever lived,” says the young narrator. “Or so you would think. But I am named after my dad. He is Thunder Boy Smith Sr., and I am...” Here, his mother pops in from the right lower margin to complete the sentence: “Thunder Boy Smith Jr.” The boy confides that his father’s nickname, Big Thunder, sounds impressive, while his own nickname, Little Thunder, “makes me sound like a burp or a fart.” After confessing “I hate my name!” with a chorus of screaming snakes, wolves, and bears driving the point home, Thunder Boy proposes several profound or funny alternatives, including “Star Boy,” “Old Toys Are Awesome,” and “Drums, Drums, and More Drums” because he “love powwow dancing.” In the end, his father understands his ambivalence and bestows a new name, although some readers may wish the boy, having spent several pages trying on new identities, had come up with it himself. Regardless, Alexie’s first picture book showcases his ear for dialogue and sideways sense of humor, and Morales uses voice balloons and other comics elements to complement the characters’ dynamic poses. Thunder Boy’s energy is irresistible, as is this expansive portrait of a Native American family. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Nancy Stauffer, Nancy Stauffer Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine Author Sherman Alexie's son, David, energetically portrays the dynamic Thunder Boy Jr., a boy who believes his name makes him sound "like a burp or a fart." He imagines all kinds of imaginative name alternatives with quirky rationales--"Old Toys Are Awesome," for example, would depict his penchant for garage sales. Alexie's playful reading adds emphasis to Yuyi Morales's animated illustrations (included in a PDF). His rhythms emphasize the poetic writing. Sherman Alexie joins forces with his son at the audio's end. His deep, sonorous voice reflects the powerful caring of a father who seeks happiness for his son. The two voices harmonize in a perfect climax, mirroring the shared love of two protagonists who together make "amazing weather" that "lights up the sky." S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2016
    Thunder Boy Smith Jr. hates his name. The Native American boy is named after his father, whose nickname is Big Thunder. Thunder Boy Jr. says his nickname, Little Thunder, makes him "sound like a burp or a fart." Little Thunder loves his dad, but he longs for a name that celebrates something special about him alone. He muses, "I love playing in the dirt, so maybe my name should be Mud in His Ears....I love powwow dancing. I'm a grass dancer. So maybe my name should be Drums, Drums, and More Drums!" Little Thunder wonders how he can express these feelings to his towering father. However, he need not worry. Big Thunder knows that the time has come for his son to receive a new name, one as vibrant as his blossoming personality. Morales' animated mixed-media illustrations, reminiscent of her Pura Belpre Award-winning work in Nino Wrestles the World (2013), masterfully use color and perspective to help readers see the world from Little Thunder's point of view. His admiration of his dad is manifest in depictions of Big Thunder as a gentle giant of a man. The otherwise-muted palette bursts with color as Thunder Boy Jr. proudly enumerates the unique qualities and experiences that could inspire his new name. An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and son. (Picture book. 4-7)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2016

    K-Gr 4-An enchanting and humorous picture book about a little boy frustrated with his name. Readers are drawn into the story narrated by Little Thunder, who is named after his father, Big Thunder. He works through his angst at the indignity of the name, presenting his case like a seasoned lawyer as he goes in search of a better, cooler moniker like Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth or Touch the Clouds. The dialogue is humorous yet profound in the simple truths it imparts. His dad eventually helps him find the perfect name. Morales uses vibrant colors and textures to bring this joyful American Indian father and son to life. Collage elements and mixed media lend the artwork an almost three-dimensional effect. This has all of the qualities of a classic story like Goodnight Moon and is destined to be a modern classic, with youngsters wanting repeated readings. VERDICT Highly recommended for all picture book collections.-Naomi Caldwell, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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