Sunday, May 1, 2016

FNG Review: Thunder Boy Junior by Sherman Alexie

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 10, 2016. 9780316013727. (Review from FNG provided by the publisher.)

Prepare to fall in love at first sight of the cover of Thunder Boy Jr. The dynamic illustration features an adorable boy clad in yellow overalls triumphantly astride his huge father's shoulders. Lightning streaks from grey clouds in the background. But the cover belies the Junior's sentiments.

Who hasn't hated their name? I know I went through a phase several times in my youth where I wished my father (my father named the girls (5) and my mother named the lone boy) had chosen a more common name for me, like Nancy or Sharon or a really uncommon and exotic name like Heather.

One of my own sons renamed himself at age four. He didn't like his name and preferred his cousin's name. We all thought it was a passing phase. It stuck. I gave him permission to change it legally but he opted instead to abandon it when he entered the workforce upon college graduation. Names are important. Names can be fraught. 

Poor Thunder Boy. His mom wanted to name him Sam. "Sam is a good name. Sam is a normal name." Luckily for Thunder Boy he has a little sister, Lillian, who gleefully rubs it in. Even his mother has a normal name!

Because his father is huge and imposing, folks call him Big Thunder, leaving Junior with the nickname, Little Thunder, which sounds like, "a burp or a fart." Little Thunder breaks the fourth wall to let the reader in on a little secret. "I HAT MY NAME!"

He wants his own name so he tries on a variety of monikers, such as, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth or Touch the Clouds or Full of Wonder. Anything by Little Thunder. Little Thunder loves his dad but wants his own identity. Leave it to Big Thunder to find the perfect name. What a joyous solution!

And what a magnificent marriage of text to illustration. Yuyi Morales' painting burst from the page with energy and humor and wonder. The palette is vibrant. Little Thunder is a force to be reckoned with, as is his sister, Lillian. The love between father and son is exquisitely palpable. 

I'm purchasing this for my home collection as well as my school. Don't miss it! 

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