Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales

Overview - Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.  Read more...

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More About Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; Yuyi Morales
Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.

National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son.

  • ISBN-13: 9780316013727
  • ISBN-10: 0316013722
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publish Date: May 2016
  • Page Count: 40
  • Reading Level: Ages 5-8
  • Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > Family - Parents
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Themes - Emotions & Feelings
Books > Juvenile Fiction > People & Places - United States - Native American

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-02-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

Echoes of Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian resonate in this vibrant first-person tale, illustrated in a stormy palette by Morales (Niño Wrestles the World). “I am the only Thunder Boy who has ever lived,” says the young narrator. “Or so you would think. But I am named after my dad. He is Thunder Boy Smith Sr., and I am...” Here, his mother pops in from the right lower margin to complete the sentence: “Thunder Boy Smith Jr.” The boy confides that his father’s nickname, Big Thunder, sounds impressive, while his own nickname, Little Thunder, “makes me sound like a burp or a fart.” After confessing “I hate my name!” with a chorus of screaming snakes, wolves, and bears driving the point home, Thunder Boy proposes several profound or funny alternatives, including “Star Boy,” “Old Toys Are Awesome,” and “Drums, Drums, and More Drums” because he “love powwow dancing.” In the end, his father understands his ambivalence and bestows a new name, although some readers may wish the boy, having spent several pages trying on new identities, had come up with it himself. Regardless, Alexie’s first picture book showcases his ear for dialogue and sideways sense of humor, and Morales uses voice balloons and other comics elements to complement the characters’ dynamic poses. Thunder Boy’s energy is irresistible, as is this expansive portrait of a Native American family. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Nancy Stauffer, Nancy Stauffer Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (May)

BookPage Reviews

Dedicated to Dad

No doubt about it—Dad’s pretty rad! Show him some love on June 19 with one of the stellar books featured below. These sweet celebrations of fatherhood will inspire a bit of dad-kiddo bonding.

Bertie, a floppy-eared pup, looks up to his pop—and no wonder. A builder who gets to drive big machines on construction sites, Bertie’s father works hard. In The Best Part of Daddy’s Day, Claire Alexander follows this adorable duo through their daily routines. Breakfast comes first, then Bertie goes to class with his dog pals, and Daddy heads off to construct a giant tower. At school, Bertie works on a tower made of blocks and thinks happily of his pop, but a trip-up in the cafeteria puts a damper on his day. Back at home, he tells Daddy about the mishap, only to learn that accidents happen to grown-ups, too! Alexander’s warmhearted illustrations feature delicate lines and soft washes of color, and her canine characters have loads of charm. 

Brian Lies’ oh-so-clever Gator Dad features a reptile father with a suitably wild parenting style. After rousing his three gator kids out of bed and exhorting them to “squeeze the day,” Gator Dad prepares breakfast for his brood, flipping fried fish from pan to plate with panache. Then it’s time to run errands, which entails whizzing around the supermarket in a cart and hitting the playground for a session on the swings (“I’ll help you try to touch the moon,” Papa promises). At home, the gang builds a fort from the living room furniture. But make no mistake—Gator Dad is in complete control. By story’s end, his crew is bathed and ready for bed. In his genius acrylic illustrations, Lies contrasts his characters’ gator-ness with their city surroundings, lending the story surreal appeal. This is big fun for Father’s Day—or any day.

Profound yet playful, Sherman Alexie’s debut picture book, Thunder Boy Jr., is an out-of-the-ordinary father-son story and a delight from start to finish. Little Thunder, the American Indian boy who narrates the tale, is named after his father, Big Thunder. “My dad is awesome,” he says. “But I don’t want to have the same name as him. . . . I want a name that sounds like me.” So Little Thunder brainstorms names that celebrate what he enjoys. One possibility, “Drums, Drums, and More Drums,” is prompted by his love of pow wows. “Old Toys Are Awesome” is inspired by family garage-sale excursions. The problem is solved when (surprise!) Dad gives Little Thunder a new name, one that’s just right. Yuyi Morales’ buoyant illustrations feature colors that pop, bold word balloons and textures that make you want to touch the page. This wise yet accessible story is bound to become a year-round read.


This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews