And Don't Call Me Junior! Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie
"I HATE MY NAME!
MY NAME IS THUNDER BOY. THUNDER BOY SMITH. THAT'S MY REAL NAME.
MY MOTHER WANTED TO NAME ME SAM."
Thunder Boy's name is hard to live up to. His dad looms larger than life in his eyes, a strong, powerful man with a booming voice whom everyone calls Big Thunder and who calls his son Little Thunder.
Little Thunder loves his dad, but he wants to make a name for himself, one that fits him well. He daydreams about new names that suit him.
He is brave, at least, he tries to be, so maybe he could be called NOT AFRAID OF A THOUSAND TEETH! He can climb a mountain. His name could be TOUCH THE CLOUDS. And he dreamed one night that his parents were the Sun and Moon, so maybe his name could be STAR BOY! He loves to dance at pow-wows. His name could be DRUMS, DRUMS, AND MORE DRUMS.
All those names sound a bit too grandiose, though. He remembers teaching himself to ride his little bike when he was three. Maybe he earned the name GRAVITY IS MY BEST FRIEND, or even MUD IN HIS EARS.
But in the Native American tradition, there are times when a new name is given, and somehow Dad seems to understand how his son feels.
"SON, I THINK IT'S TIME I GAVE YOU A NEW NAME, A NAME OF YOUR OWN."
National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie carefully crafts his story, building tension as Little Thunder seeks a new name that honors his father but feels like his own, in his just published Thunder Boy Jr. (Little, Brown and Company, 2016), and his wise father comes through the with perfect pairing for them both.
Artist Yuyi Morales, winner of the American Library Association's Pura Belpre' Award, (for Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards)) skillfully uses contrasting colors and perspectives to convey the way Little Thunder sees his dad as a monumental force of nature and as a loving dad who helps his son find his own best name. The New York Times Book Review calls Sherman's story " ...a story that feels both modern and timeless, a joyous portrait of one boy's struggle to (literally) make a name for himself in the world, and Kirkus Reviews adds, "An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity,culture, and the bond between father and son."