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Early Thunder

Book review by
Tanya Smith, Common Sense Media
Early Thunder Book Poster Image
Teen boy chooses sides in dramatic Revolutionary War tale.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Stand up for what you believe in, even if the cost is high. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Daniel is brave and has integrity.


Daniel faces a cruel stepmother and intense conflict over his political allegiance. Some hand-do-hand fighting.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Early Thunder, by Jean Fritz, is the story of a teen boy who must choose between allegiance to England and support of the rebellious American colonists. His emotional state and physical activities are described in vivid detail using simple sentences.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old March 23, 2009


need a book report
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

When 14-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, where 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, 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about rebellion. In siding with the rebellious colonists, Daniel rejects his Tory upbringing. 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?

  • What's fun about reading historical fiction? Why do you think it's so popular? 

  • What did you learn about the American Revolution in Early Thunder that you didn't know?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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