Early Thunder



Brush with danger changes a boy's life forever.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
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The protagonist is subjected to a cruel stepmother and intense conflict over his political allegiance.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the character's emotional state and physical activities are described in vivid detail using simple sentences.

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What's the story?

When fourteen-year-old Daniel West is forced to choose between allegiance to England and support of the rebellious American colonists, he makes a stunning public declaration that goes beyond mere words. Travel back to a volatile time when political conflicts raged throughout the colonies, in this historical novel by Jean Fritz. Discover how one boy's brush with danger changes his life's course forever.

Is it any good?


As in other Jean Fritz books, the historical details in EARLY THUNDER are authentic, and overall the book is absorbing and dramatic. Unlike most of Fritz's books, however, it does not rely on humor to convey its message, and its tone is generally serious. The title refers to the specter of war looming over the colonies in 1775: Daniel must decide whether he's a Tory, like his father, or a Whig, like his peers.

Embedded in this solid history lesson is a poignant and timeless coming-of-age story. Like many children today, Daniel is a small boy with big burdens. Daniel takes a significant step toward adulthood in the book's climax, in which he fights heroically to save the town's boat, engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a British soldier.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about rebellion. In siding with the rebellious colonists, Daniel rejects his Tory upbringing. Younger readers: Have you ever taken a position on a major issue that's very different from your parents' point of view? Was it difficult to reach that decision?

Book details

Author:Jean Fritz
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:January 1, 2000
Number of pages:255
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old July 10, 2012

not a regrettable read.

Parents, if your child is vaguely interested, if not confused about our American history, I'm pretty sure this book'll answer any questions and provide a useful perspective on the Revolutionary Period. Course, it's not Shakespeare, but definitely a time passer.
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
Kid, 12 years old November 1, 2011

a perplexing adventure

The year is 1774, in Salem town. The Tories and Patriots are bickering, and a war is likely to break out. 14 year old Daniel was a full bred Tory. Now, he questions his loyalty to the king and is wondering which side he really should fight for. This engaging story of Early Thunder is a wonderful perspective of the complicated bit of American history known as the Revolutionary War.
What other families should know
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