“Thunder Boy Jr.” by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99

Review by David Steinberg

Thunder Boy Smith Jr.  was named for his dad, Thunder Boy Smith Sr.

Junior is only a kid but he’s had it with his name. He hates his name. He wants his own, one-of-a-kind name.

Sherman Alexie’s charming children’s book relates Junior’s search for a new name.

Junior considers a bunch of possibilities.

How about “Touch the Clouds” because he once climbed a mountain?

Or “Mud in His Ears” because he loves playing in dirt?

Or “Star Boy” because  he dreamed that the sun and moon were his mom and dad.

His dad’s nickname is “Big Thunder” so Junior certainly doesn’t want to be known as “Little Thunder.” “That nickname makes me sound like a burp or a fart,” he says.

Junior declares his love for his dad but he doesn’t want to be just like him. “I want to be mostly myself,” he says.

Just when he’s thinking about how to raise the issue with his dad, dad jumps in, saying it’s time to give his son a name of his own. Really! What timing!

Dad proposes this name: “Lighting”! 

Junior loves it. What a pair, what a duo he and his father will be.

“Together, my dad and I will become amazing weather. Our love will be loud and it will be bright,” Junior decides.

Yuyi Morales’ bold, brilliant colors give the book a special dimension, a dimension that will brighten the eyes of children and adults alike.

What a treat!

Alexie, a prize-winning author/poet/filmmaker, wrote “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He is a resident of Seattle.

Morales, who divides her time between Mexico and California has illustrated many books including “Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez.”


Sherman Alexie will give a talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26 at the KiMo Theatre, Fifth and Central NW.

Tickets are available in several price categories – $50 for priority seating and signing line preference; $25 for one general admission and a signed copy of “Thunder Boy Jr.”; $5 for one general admission.

Each ticket includes a donation to the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Alexie will also sign copies of “Thunder Boy Jr.”