Review: Thunder Boy Jr.
Title: Thunder Boy Jr.
Author: Sherman Alexie
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 40 pages
Ages: 2 – 5
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie is book about a Native American child who has the same name as his father. Problem is the little boy wants to have his own name. Thunder Boy Jr. comes up with several new names: Touch The Clouds, Gravity's Best Friend, Star Boy, and Full of Wonder.
He really loves his dad, but he wants to be his own person. Thunder Boy Sr., known as Big Thunder, tells his son that it is time for him to have his own name. Thunder Boy Jr. rejoices. He chooses the name Lightning!
I had a great time reading this book with my daughters. The little one loved Yuyi Morales' bold and explosive illustrations. My oldest daughter, on the other hand, had so many questions and thoughts about the story.
"Why the dad decided to gave his son the same name?" I explained to her that many people have this tradition. I told her that I could have gave her or her sister my own name. She said that would have been strange.
"Thunder Boy Jr. wants to be his own person! His dad can't see it?" I told her that we had to keep reading the book to get the answer. She insisted that children have the right to be their own self. I agreed with her.
She was very happy with the end of the story because the dad lets his son pick his own name. She was also excited about the father and son having different but similar names. She thought that now each one was his own self, but together they were strong.
About the author
I was impressed with this book because it had my daughter thinking about identity. I searched for information about the author and why he wrote this book.
Sherman Alexie is of Native American descent. In an interview with NPR Books, Alexie explains that he wrote the book because his dad gave him his same name. When his dad died, he saw his name on the tombstone. He always had issues with having the same name as his father. I guess he also wanted to be his own self. The author explains further that their relationship was not easy because his father was an alcoholic who could have done much more with his life.
Alexie also wanted to write a picture book that portrayed a stable Native American family. Clearly, the author understands the need for minority children to see themselves in books.
Read the full interview of Alexie Sherman with NPR Books.
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