The Singing Tree
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Singing Tree
Author: Kate Seredy
Major Themes: Family Life, Farming, Hungary
Synopsis: As clouds of war gather on the horizon and then break, Jancsi and Kate go on with life on the farm.
About five years ago, I read The Singing Tree to my children. Just recently, we read its prequel, The Good Master, together, and followed with a reread of this one. We enjoyed the sequel as much as the first book! One of my boys, who must have been only about six when we first read this book, was tickled when we read a scene set in a military hospital, because he remembered it. It is rather a memorable scene!
Jancsi and Kate are only a year or two older now than in The Good Master, but both are much more mature. Kate no longer screams like she did when she first came to live with her uncle’s family, although she is still just as determined to get her own way. Both love Uncle Moses, the Jewish shopkeeper in the local village, who has an amazing way of driving bargains that leaves Jancsi nearly speechless. However, clouds are threatening the peace of Europe—and soon the storm breaks as World War I begins.
When Hungary is plunged into war, everyone must do his part. The fathers end up going off to fight in the army, and Jancsi has to run the ranch, with the help of his mother and Kate. When they discover the book Father wrote, telling what needed done each day of the year, Jancsi took the advice given and got six Russian prisoners-of-war to help with the farm work. We loved reading about them, as well as the trip to rescue Mother’s parents, which ended up with extra surprises. The six German orphans made for a heart-warming story, as well.
I appreciated the way Mother helped Kate grow up and become a lady. Kate had been a tomboy, doing everything Jancsi did, and was rebelling at the thought of being restrained—but Mother had a wise way of helping her to accept and love her role in life. The transformation of a selfish, spoiled, whiny girl who came to live with the family was wonderful, as well.
We also appreciated the way war was portrayed. It was made abundantly clear that war is not glorious; it is horrible. The Singing Tree is told through the eyes of those at home, hearing from their men on the front. Very little is told of the battles, but the waste of life is shown clearly. We also enjoyed more glimpses into rural Hungarian life in 1914; the wedding was fascinating!
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Links to buy The Singing Tree:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Family Life, Farming, Hungary