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Thunder from the Sea

Reading Group Guide

    Tom Campbell, a thirteen-year-old orphan, travels to Back o'the Moon Island to live with Enoch and Fiona Murray in 1929. After he rescues a young Newfoundland dog, Thunder, during a storm, his life seems nearly perfect until trouble with his neighbors and the impending birth of a new baby threaten to change everything.
    Orphans; Dogs; Family life; Newfoundland and Labrador
    • Why did Enoch and Fiona like living on this remote island? What did it offer that they couldn't find in town?
    • Why would Enoch want to be in partnership with Amos? Why was it difficult? How would you deal with a partner like Amos?
    • What is "jannie talk"? Why do Mummers use it? What is "cheek music"? What is it used for?
    • Why did the earthquake cause a tidal wave? How might Thunder have sensed it before the people?
    • This is a fictional story of a dog who is a hero. Find some examples of real animal heroes and report on the ways dogs can help people. How can a dog's senses make a difference in detecting an emergency or saving a person?
    • Look at an atlas of Canada and look for small islands like Back o'the Moon. Where are some real islands? What can you discover about the people that live there?
    • Research real earthquakes and tsunamis and the current attempts to create early warning systems.
    This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
    Prepared by Arlene Wiler
    © William Allen White Children's Book Award
    Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

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Secret of the Night Ponies
Blown Away!

About the Author

Joan Hiatt Harlow
Photograph courtesy of the author

Joan Hiatt Harlow

Joan Hiatt Harlow is the author of several popular historical novels including Secret of the Night Ponies, Shadows on the Sea, Midnight Rider, Star in the Storm, Joshua’s Song, and Thunder from the Sea. Ms. Harlow lives in Venice, Florida. For more information, visit her at