Thunder from the Clear Sky

Brief Description: A companion book to The Pilgrims of Plimouth and People of the Breaking Day, this book shows what happens when tensions increase between the indigenous Wampanoag and the English settlers of Plymouth Colony.

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Historical Era:

Date Range: 1675-1676

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Original Publication: 1995

Suitable for Grades: 1-6th

Target Audience: Picture Book, Chapter Book

Librarian's Review

Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of two different people, a Native American Wampanoag warrior and an old English man who was one of the original pilgrims of Plymouth Colony, this book lays out the events leading up to the conflict known as King Philip’s War in 1675-76.

The first chapters retell some of the events of the first two books in the series, People of the Breaking Day and The Pilgrims of Plymouth.  But fifty years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, tensions continually rise between increasing numbers of European settlers (Dutch and French in addition to the original English) and indigenous Native Americans.  New settlements attract more newcomers.   The Europeans break treaties and agreements, overhunt, overfish and clear the forests of lumber.  At the same time, the pilgrims are frustrated by their inability to “civilize” the native peoples.  After Chief Massasoit’s death, his son Wamsutta is summoned to Plymouth and he dies soon after.  The indigenous people believe he has been poisoned.  Massasoit’s second son, Metacomet, also known as Philip, becomes the new leader of the Wampanoags.

The sad murder in 1675 of John Sassamon, a Native Massachusetts member who had converted to Christianity and spoke English, inflames the tensions even more.  The settlers at Swansea Village convict three native men and put them to death.  Finally the various indigenous nations are ready to unite and fight against the English.  Both sides attack many villages, killing women and children.  The capture and execution of King Philip brings the war to an end.

The author’s beautiful paintings, a detailed map, and a glossary and a list of characters accompany the text.  More information about King Philip’s War can be found on the National Park Service’s website for the Roger Williams National Memorial. 

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