Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie
It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a huge Sherman Alexie fan. And while most of his works would be considered adult, I absolutely freaking loved his young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I’ve been really hoping that he would write more works for young readers. And when I found out about Thunder Boy, Jr., I realized that my wish was coming true.
If you’ve ever hated your name, you will relate to Thunder Boy, Jr. He’s named after his dad, Thunder Boy, and he can’t understand why his little sister would have such a “normal” name, while he continually is a “little” or “junior” Thunder. He’s trying to figure out how he relates to his dad and how he can be his own self while living in his father’s shadow. It’s the story every child named for a parent or an ancestor faces—who are you, and how is your identity both tied to and separate from that predecessor?
This book is an absolutely darling read for many reasons. First, Alexie approaches a common family issue with his usual dry humor, but he makes it gentler and more appropriate for younger readers. Second, this book is beautifully illustrated. Yuyi Morales’ pictures highlight the characters and bring the text to life. I enjoyed drinking in the illustrations while reading the book. Though I am not a parent, I would recommend this to children, teachers, and parents. There’s only one problem with this book: it’s not nearly long enough. I loved the story Alexie told, but now I’m a little mad that he teased me with something so short. I’m greedy and I want more by him!!!