Thunder and Lightnings

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Thunder and Lightnings

Thunder and Lightnings cover.jpg

Front cover of 1978 Puffin edition
Author Jan Mark
Illustrator Jim Russell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's realist novel
Publisher Kestrel Books
Publication date
April 1976
Media type Print
Pages 174 pp (first edition)
ISBN 0-7226-5195-3
OCLC 16292884
LC Class PZ7.M33924 Th 1979 [1]

Thunder and Lightnings is a realistic children's novel by Jan Mark, published in 1976 by Kestrel Books of Harmondsworth in London, with illustrations by Jim Russell. Set in Norfolk, it features a developing friendship between two boys who share an interest in aeroplanes, living near RAF Coltishall during the months in 1974 when the Royal Air Force is phasing out its English Electric Lightning fighters and introducing the SEPECAT Jaguar.

Realism (arts) artistic style of representing subjects realistically

Realism, sometimes called naturalism, in the arts is generally the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, or implausible, exotic, and supernatural elements. Realism has been prevalent in the arts at many periods, and can be in large part a matter of technique and training, and the avoidance of stylization.

Jan Mark was a British writer best known for children's books. In all she wrote over fifty novels and plays and many anthologised short stories. She won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject, both for Thunder and Lightnings (1976) and for Handles (1983). She was also a "Highly Commended" runner up for Nothing To Be Afraid Of (1980). She has won the Carnegie Medal twice, and no one has won three Carnegies.

Harmondsworth village in west London

Harmondsworth is a village in the London Borough of Hillingdon with a short border to the south onto London Heathrow Airport. The village has no railway stations; however, it adjoins the M4 motorway and the Bath Road. Harmondsworth is an ancient parish which once included the large hamlets of Heathrow, Longford and Sipson. Longford and Sipson have modern signposts and facilities as separate villages, remaining to a degree interdependent such as for schooling. Its Great Barn and its church are well-repaired medieval buildings in the village. The largest proportion of land in commercial use is related to air transport and hospitality. The village includes public parkland with footpaths and butts onto the River Colne and further land in its regional park to the west, within Colnbrook.


Mark won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject. [2] She also won a prize for children's novels by new writers, sponsored by The Guardian newspaper. [lower-alpha 1]

The Carnegie Medal is a British literary award that annually recognizes one outstanding new book for children or young adults. It is conferred upon the author by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). CILIP calls it "the UK's oldest and most prestigious book award for children's writing" and claims that writers call it "the one they want to win".

The term British subject has had a number of different legal meanings over time. Currently the term 'British subject' refers, in British nationality law, to a limited class of different people defined by Part IV of the British Nationality Act 1981. Under that Act, two groups of people became "British subjects"; the first were people from the Republic of Ireland born before 1949 who already claimed subject status, and the second covered a number of people who had previously been considered "British subjects without citizenship", and were not considered citizens of any other country. This second group were predominantly residents of colonies which had become independent, but who had not become citizens of the new country. The status cannot be inherited, and is lost on the acquisition of any other citizenship; it will therefore cease to exist on the death of the last remaining subjects.

Atheneum Books published the first U.S. edition in 1979, retaining the Russell illustrations. [1]

Atheneum Books was a New York City publishing house established in 1959 by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn. Simon & Schuster has owned Atheneum properties since its acquisition of Macmillan in 1994 and it created Atheneum Books for Young Readers as an imprint for children's books in the 2000s.


Jan and Neil Mark moved to Norfolk in 1969 and lived "directly under a flight-path, with Lightning fighters from RAF Coltishall taking off 200 feet above the roof". [3] According to her obituary in The Guardian, she wrote her debut novel Thunder and Lightnings for "the Kestrel/Guardian prize for a children's novel by a previously unpublished writer", and won it. [4] [lower-alpha 1]

Debut novel first published by an author

A debut novel is the first novel a novelist publishes. Debut novels are often the author's first opportunity to make an impact on the publishing industry, and thus the success or failure of a debut novel can affect the ability of the author to publish in the future. First-time novelists without a previous published reputation, such as publication in nonfiction, magazines, or literary journals, typically struggle to find a publisher.

Plot summary

Andrew Mitchell moves to Tiler's Cottage in East Anglia. He goes to his new school and meets Victor Skelton in General Studies class. The two slowly become friends and do things together, including going to RAF Coltishall to see the aeroplanes, which are English Electric Lightnings. Victor is devastated when he discovers that his beloved Lightnings are to be replaced with Jaguars.

East Anglia region of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

East Anglia is a geographical area in the East of England. The area included has varied but the legally defined NUTS 2 statistical unit comprises the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including the City of Peterborough unitary authority area. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a tribe whose name originated in Anglia, northern Germany.

See also


  1. 1 2 This was not the venerable Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (1966 to present), which annually recognises a book by someone who has not yet won the award; Jan Mark never won that. Evidently it was co-sponsored by a publisher; 2006 obituaries in The Guardian and The Independent named it "Kestrel/Guardian" and "Penguin/Guardian" respectively.

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  1. 1 2 "Thunder and lightnings" (first U.S. edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  2. Carnegie Winner 1976. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  3. "Jan Mark: Prolific and distinctive children's writer who found her voice with her first book, Thunder and Lightnings" (obituary). Nicholas Tucker. The Independent 18 January 2006. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  4. "Jan Mark: Leading children's writer with a soft spot for cats and a robust view of the book trade" (obituary). David Fickling, Philip Pullman, and Jon Appleton. The Guardian 23 January 2006. Retrieved 2012-09-08.

Thunder and Lightnings in libraries ( WorldCat catalog) —immediately, first US edition

WorldCat is a union catalog that itemizes the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories that participate in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) global cooperative. It is operated by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. The subscribing member libraries collectively maintain WorldCat's database, the world's largest bibliographic database. OCLC makes WorldCat itself available free to libraries, but the catalog is the foundation for other subscription OCLC services.

Preceded by
The Machine Gunners
Carnegie Medal recipient
Succeeded by
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler