The Christmas Surprise
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Christmas Surprise
Author: Ruth Nulton Moore
Major Themes: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; French and Indian War; Indians; Moravians; Pennsylvania
Synopsis: After the Indian raid at Penn’s Creek, Kate’s parents were dead, her brother was a captive of the Indians, and she found herself living with the Moravians in Bethlehem.
I wonder how many times I have read The Christmas Surprise aloud? I know it’s been several; I found a few penciled-in notes that indicate I read it to a class of 5th-graders once, and I have read it to my own children at least twice now. I still enjoyed it; this is a wonderful story! We have just reached the French and Indian War in our journey through American history, so this was a perfect time to read this book.
Kate has frequent nightmares. They are always the same, and all too real for the 15-year-old. Every time, she would see dark shapes slipping out of the woods, then her family’s log cabin in flames, and she would feel herself being thrust into a dark hole in the ground. She would wake up screaming, and find herself safe in the women’s dormitory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
After the Indians had burned the cabin, killed and scalped Kate’s parents and taken her little brother captive, her uncle had found her still hiding in the root cellar and took her to safety in the Moravian town of Bethlehem. Here, Kate tried to forget her fears, but she couldn’t bring herself to forgive the Indians—and then, just before Christmas, the town was threatened with an attack! Would the children be able to enjoy the Christmas surprise that Kate, along with all the other adults in the town, had been preparing for them—or would they all be massacred during the night?
My boys love this story. The main characters are girls—but there is so much action and suspense that they wanted more and more each time I read. I appreciated that the level of suspense wasn’t overly high; it’s actually very realistic. Ruth Nulton Moore has done an excellent job of making this account interesting and readable, while still sticking pretty close to the actual facts. She has also done a good job of introducing her readers to the nonresistant stand of the Moravian brethren, and has drawn a beautiful picture of forgiveness and healing from painful experiences in one’s past.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12
Links to buy The Christmas Surprise:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; French and Indian War; Indians; Moravians; Pennsylvania