post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Distant Thunder
Author: Ruth Nulton Moore
Major Themes: Moravians, Pennsylvania, American Revolution
Synopsis: When the Continental Army brings prisoners to the Moravian village of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and one escapes, two cousins must figure out how to protect him.
When I offered my children a choice of several titles about the American Revolution, the majority vote was for Distant Thunder. We had read Christmas Surprise several months ago, and ever since, they have been looking forward to hearing me read this sequel. There are about 20 years between the two stories; Christmas Surprise is set during the French and Indian War, while Distant Thunder happens during the American Revolution. I remember being a little confused the first time I read this story, some 25 years ago, because one of the names is the same, but the person is in a different generation. My children didn’t seem to have that problem, though.
Kate lives with her aunt, uncle and cousins in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a Moravian town. Her cousin startles the whole family when he announces he is leaving to join the militia, against the teachings of his upbringing. Soon after he leaves, the Continental Army brings Hessian prisoners to town to keep them, and one escapes. Kate and another cousin find the young man and protect him.
A short time later, the army brings their sick and wounded to Bethlehem to be cared for again. Next, the army’s supplies are brought there for safekeeping and the town is stretched to its limits. With all these soldiers around, is there any hope for concealing the escaped prisoner? Throughout the year in which this story takes place, the family experiences tragedy as well as reunion—including a reunion they never expected but had been wishing for for many years.
This story shows a side of the Revolution that isn’t in very many books. Rather than glorifying the soldiers and the fighting, it shows the other side of the picture, and what the people who didn’t want to fight endured. I felt like it didn’t bring out the belief of nonresistance very well, but it did show how a true Christian will treat those who are wounded or sick because of war. The Moravians definitely did treat others as Jesus would have!
WARNING: Chapter 3 mentions that the Hessians ran their prisoners through with bayonets instead of taking them alive. A prisoner is killed while trying to escape in chapter 4. Kate told a lie in chapter 12. Kate’s cousin died in chapter 13.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12
Links to buy Distant Thunder:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Moravians, Pennsylvania, Family Read-alouds, Historical Fiction, American Revolution