Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie Book Review

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
Illustrations by Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 10, 2016

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants to have a name that is his own. They call his dad Big Thunder, which is awesome, but he doesn't like being called Little Thunder. He wants to be celebrated for something he has done. A name like Touch the Clouds, or Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder would do. It takes time, but soon Thunder Boy Jr. finds a name that it all his own, one that is sure to light up the sky.

There are times when I am in awe as to how so much story can be squeezed into such a small format as a picture book. This is one of those times. This is a story about wanting independence and identity. It is about a relationship between a father and son. It is about a Native American family celebrating their heritage and traditions. Yet, like much of Sherman Alexie's work, it is so universal in scope that many different kinds of people can enjoy it.

Yuyi Morales' illustrations are perfect, full of energy and color. She honored the Native American aspects of the story without hitting the readers over the head with it. Yuyi uses every inch of her canvas and easily draws the reader's eye exactly where she wants it to go.

There are very very few picture books featuring Native Americans that aren't some kind of historical account of something or another. This book stands apart, unique and beautiful. It may be a bit early to say this, but I am sure this one is going to win an award or two. It certainly deserved them.