Happy New Year!
January’s Book Pick is Thunder Boy Jr., written by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales.
Thunder Boy Smith Jr. loves his dad but hates that they share a name. Why can’t he be Sam, the way his mom had wanted? People call his dad Big Thunder, like "a storm filling up the sky." Jr. gets called Little Thunder, which sounds “like a burp or a fart.” He wants a name of his own, one that celebrates his own life and accomplishments. There are so many possibilities! Finally, Big Thunder reads his son’s heart, and Little Thunder gets a new name that celebrates both their love AND individuality.
Alexie’s text is lyrical without wasting words. His narrator, Little Thunder, is appealing and full of life, with interjections in speech bubbles adding humor to this heartfelt story. And Morales uses textures scanned from wood and brick in her art, to build an appealing, stylized world. On every page, this team’s efforts combine to portray the pride and silliness, but most importantly, the affection that binds this family.
It’s a terrific package, and has landed on many Best of 2016 lists. Headed for a Caldecott or Golden Kite? Regardless, it should find its way to many story times.
Have you read Thunder Boy Jr.? What do you think?