Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caldecott Contender

I have a dismal track record of picking Caldecott winners, the Oscars for Picture Books.  Now the Newbery is a different story, but the Caldecott just shows me no mercy.  So while I will tell you that the book I am profiling today should probably be on the Caldecott short list, don't hold your breath.  My track record speaks for itself.

However, if you want a book that absolutely touched me in both a sentimental and a humorous way, then this is the one.  If those judges don't at least give it serious consideration, well that's on them.  Although now that picture books are winning Newbery awards, perhaps this one has a better shot  at some hardware than I thought.

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Title: Thunder Boy Jr.

Author: Sherman Alexie

Target: Preschool - Grade 3

What this book is about: 
Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad.  His dad is Big Thunder and he is Little Thunder.  But Little Thunder has a secret ….. he hates his name!  He attempts to come up with new names that represent the things that he has accomplished in his life such a touching the nose of a wild orca or climbing mountains.  But he has no idea how to broach the subject with his dad.  As luck would have it, his dad comes up with a new name for Little Thunder that is more than perfect, proving this father/son duo will “light up the sky.”

Why I love this book:
  • I was a child of the ’60/‘70s in California with a name that represented my Norwegian heritage.  It was a name that NO ONE had heard of, I felt I had no connection to and I hated it.  But you don’t have to be named Freya or Little Thunder to come to the conclusion that there are times growing up that you will hate your name or the responsibly of a family name.  Alexie Sherman has taped into this universal truth and given kids a voice when they are fed up with the poor decisions their parents have saddled them with.  (For the record I now love my name, although still few people have heard of it.)
  • I love the imagery in this book.  As Little Thunder tries to come up with new names, his accomplishments, wishes and personality are revealed with humor and a sense of delight.
  • When his dad comes up with a new name for Little Thunder my favorite line in the book is revealed “My dad read my heart!”  I know, I know, I hate touchy feely stuff but what a gift when someone can read your heart!  Love it!
  • This book is funny.  While touching and sentimental, this book never loses its sense of humor and that is what nailed it as a must read for me.

Who this book is for: 
Great for all kids.  Wonderful way to show Native Americans in a contemporary light.

Final thoughts: 
I have not touched on the illustrations by YuYi Morales.  I was not initially drawn to them, but after reading the book several times, I couldn’t imagine a more vibrant and expressive artist to make this story come to life.  She is constantly playing with perspective, shape and color and her work is striking.  These illustrations definitely grew on me.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Thunder Boy Jr.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

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