based on Thunder from the Sea
by Joan Hiatt Harlow
About the Book
This heart-warming story brings two lost souls together, Tom Campbell and Thunder, a black Newfoundland dog. Tom is a 13 year-old boy, orphaned since the age of 3 and Thunder is a dog who is lost at sea in a very bad storm. They find each other and become inseparable. Thunder is more than just a companion to Tom and his friends and family when he saves lives throughout the book because of his keen senses. Unfortunately, Tom knows that one day the real owner is going to come for Thunder, and he has to think of some way to stop him so he doesnt lose the best friend a boy could ever have!
Set the Stage
Get students ready to read by showing the front cover and discussing some of these items:
- Looking at the front cover of the book, the students can make some predictions about the characters and setting.
- There is a map located after the Table of Contents in the front of the book of where this story takes place. Discuss it while showing a large world map so the students have an idea where Newfoundland is in relation to where they live.
- Talk about its distance from the Equator and allow the students to share their knowledge of what the weather would be like in this part of the world.
- Note that there is much water in the area and what that would mean for the way the people there may make a living. What would be a plentiful resource?
- Show some pictures of what the land in Newfoundland looks like; this will be helpful in gathering some background knowledge before students begin reading.
After reading the book, allow the students to discuss the following questions:
- Why didnt Tom think he would ever be a part of anyones family?
- Tom found many reasons confirming he brought bad luck to the Murray family. List those reasons.
- Amos and Bert felt that Thunder should be their dog instead of Toms. How do you think the story would have been different if Thunder didnt live with the Murray family?
- Tom learned how to read and write at the mission. The children of Back o the Moon Island didnt. Why didnt they have a school on the island?
- What would you do if you were in Toms situation with Fiona and Thunder in the blinding blizzard? Would you go on and try to find an ice bridge or would you turn back and find another way to get help for Fiona and her baby? Explain the reasons for your choice.
Test students'comprehension of the book with this vocabulary activity.
To extend students enjoyment of the book, try these:
- Comparing Stories: Read another book of similar genre such as one of Harlows other books, Star in the Storm, and compare and contrast the two stories.
- Amazing Animals: Thunder, the Newfoundland dog, had amazing senses to warn the people of danger and to find little Rowena when she was lost. Find out about other amazing animals and their extraordinary senses. The students can research to find information and share it with the class.
- Who Is Sir Wilfred Grenfell?: Sir Wilfred Grenfell was the missionary doctor who founded the mission where Tom Campbell lived. He was a very important man in this region. Let the students research him to find out all the wonderful ways he shared his knowledge and resources to improve the region.
- Calling All Mummers: Mummery is introduced in this story. The Murrays are visited by mummers or jannies. The mummers conceal their true identity with masks and other props. Make available materials to allow the children to make mummer masks and let them put together a skit which includes the weird shouts, cries and high-pitched jannie talk.
- What Happened Next?: Students can write a summary of each chapter and use these summaries to make a flow chart or map of the important details of the story. They should begin the flow with Tom on the boat going with Enoch to Back o the Moon and end it where he is allowed to keep Thunder.