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Thunder Boy Jr. Hey book lovers! I’m Mila from milaREADS.com here to share another great title in diverse children’s literature. I emphasize that word diverse because all books features here are chosen and reviewed by how well they represent diversity in relation to the developmental value they offer. So let’s get to it! Today’s book, Thunder Boy Jr., was published in 2016 and has already won many awards. It was written by Sherman Alexie, and illustrated by Yuyi Morales. It’s ideal for young readers ages 5 to 8 years old, or up to about 3rd grade. Thunder Boy Jr. is about a boy who hates his name because it’s diminutive and he wants his own identity. However, he doesn’t want to hurt his Dad’s feelings by suggesting a change. Throughout the book Jr. explores possible names for himself based on cool things he’s done or stuff he likes. In the end Thunder Boy’s dad thinks of a new name for Jr. that they both love. It’s actually a very fitting name for his character and one that brings father and son even closer together. I won’t spoil the book for you by telling you what that new name is so you’ll just have to read to find out. REVIEW: I highly recommend Thunder Boy Jr. for several reasons: SUBJECTIVE APPEAL: First, the book has high subjective appeal. The title caught my attention and the illustrations sold me when I saw the beautiful ethnic family. It’s visually exciting and entertaining. And here’s an interesting side note about the illustrations. Yuyi Morales, who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico, actually used the remains of an antique house in Mexico to digitally create the colors and textures you’ll see throughout the book. How cool is that!? Knowing this made the illustrations all the more captivating because I’m looking more closely at each page trying to figure out what part of the antique house a design may have been. Also, the illustrations are not strictly parallel to the story so you’re also very interested to see what Thunder Boy Jr. is up to on the page. I further enjoyed Alexie’s writing style and bits of humor. He has authored several books, but he’s also a poet which I think is evident here through his use of language and text that’s often written in stanzas. DEVELOPMENTAL VALUE: I think Thunder Boy Jr. offers a decent opportunity for a child’s growth and development by questioning mainstream social norms and promoting understanding of cultural diversity. It may


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help children cultivate sensitivity toward themselves and others with names that are different or names that may be considered odd in America. Some reviewers have raised concerns that the text leads to misunderstandings and/or stereotyping of American Indian naming traditions, but I believe this book offers a good opportunity to develop greater understanding of the social value of names and cultural naming practices. For young readers, it’s a good book to encourage discussions about names and how we feel about our own names. The only thing I did not like about this book was that Thunder Boy Jr.’s father stepped in to solve his dilemma while Jr. was still working on his own solution and before he had even asked for help. Still, the appeal and value of this book outweigh its problematic aspects and overall it’s a great story to encourage discussion and promote understanding of diverse cultural practices so I’m rating Thunder Boy Jr. 4 out of 5 stars.

EXCERPT: Thunder Boy Jr. is about a boy who hates his name because it’s diminutive and he wants his own identity. This book offers a good opportunity to develop greater understanding of the social value of names and cultural naming practices. For young readers, it’s a good book to encourage discussions about names and how we feel about our own names.


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A boy who hates his name wants his own identity. This book offers a good opportunity to develop greater understanding of the social value of names and cultural naming practices. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, Illustrated by Yuyi Morales SUMMARY: Thunder Boy Jr. is about a boy who hates his name because it’s diminutive and he wants his own identity. However, he doesn’t want to hurt his father’s feelings by suggesting a change. Throughout the book Jr. explores possible names for himself based on cool things he’s done and stuff he likes. In the end Thunder Boy Sr. thinks of a new name for Jr. that they both love. It’s actually a very fitting name for his character and one that brings father and son even closer together. I won’t spoil the book for you by telling you what that new name is, so you’ll just have to read to find out. REVIEW: First, the book has high subjective appeal. The title caught my attention and the illustrations sold me when I saw the beautiful ethnic family. It’s visually exciting and entertaining. And here’s an interesting side note about the illustrations. Yuyi Morales, who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico, actually used the remains of an antique house in Mexico to digitally create the colors and textures you’ll see throughout the book. Knowing this made the illustrations all the more captivating because you can look closely at each page to try and figure out what part of the antique house a design may have been. Also, the illustrations are not strictly parallel to the story so it’s interesting to see what Thunder Boy Jr. is up to on the page.


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I further enjoyed Alexie’s writing style and bits of humor. He has authored several books, but he’s also a poet which I think is evident here through his use of language and text that’s often written in stanzas. I think Thunder Boy Jr. offers a decent opportunity for a child’s growth and development by questioning mainstream social norms and promoting understanding of cultural diversity. It may help children cultivate sensitivity toward themselves and others with names that are different or names that may be considered odd in America. Some reviewers have raised concerns that the text leads to misunderstandings and/or stereotyping of American Indian naming traditions, but I believe this book offers a good opportunity to develop greater understanding of the social value of names and cultural naming practices. For young readers, it’s a good book to encourage discussions about names and how we feel about our own names. The only thing I did not like about this book was that Thunder Boy Jr.’s father stepped in to solve his son’s dilemma while Jr. was still working on his own solution and before he had even asked for help. Still, the appeal and value of this book outweigh its problematic aspects and overall it’s a great story to encourage discussion and promote understanding of diverse cultural practices. I recommend Thunder Boy Jr. with 4 out of 5 stars.


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Los Angeles Black Parent Magazine September 2017  

Los Angeles Black Parent Magazine is a digital magazine that provides comprehensive information to readers in and around the community of Lo...