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The Good Master (Kate and Jancsi #1)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  2,412 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Jancsi is overjoyed to hear that his cousin from Budapest is coming to spend the summer on his father's ranch on the Hungarian plains. But their summer proves more adventurous than he had hoped when headstrong Kate arrives, as together they share horseback races across the plains, country fairs and festivals, and a dangerous run-in with the gypsies.

In vividly detailed scen
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Paperback, Puffin Newbery Library, 192 pages
Published May 6th 1986 by Puffin Books (first published 1935)
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Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
I just recommended this book to a GR friend for her young granddaughter, and started reminiscing about how very, very much I loved this book when I was a young teen. I probably read this book at least 10 times.

The Good Master, a Newbury Honor book written in 1935, is set in the Hungarian countryside in the early 1900s. Think Farmer Boy set in Hungary, and then add Kate, a feisty, mischievous cousin from the big city of Budapest, who is sent to stay with her country cousin Jansci and his parents
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Starry
The story tells of a young boy growing up on a large ranch in pre-WWI Hungary. His cousin Kate from Budapest comes to stay with the family -- allegedly to recover strength after the measles but, in truth, because she is spoiled and naughty and her widower father cannot control her. (Yes, think Kate from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, though I have no idea if the author intended the connection.) Over the course of a year and many exciting adventures (saved from drowning! kidnapped by gypsies! ...more
Penelope Dreadfulle
I received this book from my father for my tenth birthday...one of three books (the other two being The Singing Tree by the same author, and The Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton). This one I finished by sundown. All three had a profound effect on my world view that has continued on into adulthood. For a kid who grew up in the middle of the Pacific ocean, these three books opened my eyes to the rest of the world in a way that hadn't happened before.

The story takes place in the early 1900s a
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Kristine
The author-illustrator Kate Seredy was born in 1899 in Hungary where she spent some youthful summers on the plains of Hungary that inspired her work of juvenile fiction THE GOOD MASTER, a Newbery Honor Book for 1935. (It was a runner-up to that year's winner CADDIE WOODLAWN, which Kate Seredy had illustrated!) NOTE: There is a follow-up to The Good Master called THE SINGING TREE, published in 1939, and that book also received a Newbery Honor Book award.

Kate Seredy, apparently, considered herse
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Marianne
A frail city girl who needs fresh country air is being sent to the Jansi's house. The "frail city girl's" name is Kate. Jansi and Kate are cousins..... and there around the same age! But Kate is not at all what uncle Sandor his name is said she was like. Truth is Kate is really a Snobby, yelling brat who sometimes looks like an angel but is just getting into more and more trouble. Fredrick, his mother, and father soon find that out! But as time goes on Kate changes. It takes a lot of time for he ...more
Phoebe
Jancsi lives happily with his parents in preWorld War 2 Hungary, on a prosperous ranch where life is busy but satisfying. When his city cousin Kate comes to recuperate after illness he is at first excited but then astounded at her headstrong, sometimes thoughtless behavior. The two children have a variety of adventures and become fast friends, under the paternal tutelage of Jancsi's father, the Good Master of the title. Except for the usual comments about girls' inferiority to boys, and the deme ...more
Megan Lengel
Jancsi and his father, Marton, don't know wha they're getting into when they pick up Kate, Jancsi's cousin from the city, at the train station. Her father had written that she was "delicate" and had "had the measles" recently. They expect a shy little girl. They don't know that Kate's father had LIED about her!
Rebecca
Great story for kids! Not a great literary work but very effectively eaches a lot about the rural lifestyle, culture and history of Hungary through the medium of engaging stories about the adventures of two cousins. Reinforces good values.
Alicia
Jan 24, 2013 Alicia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alicia by: Newbery
This sweet 1935 Newbery Honor book is about a boy and girl (around age 10) and their adventures on the Hungarian plains. I read this to my children years ago and remember loving it, so I just reread it to 11 year old Josh. I wanted to reread it because it's full of Hungarian folklore and traditions, and Hungary borders Ukraine (where my missionary son is serving). Josh loved the adventures: hiding in the rafters and eating the winter sausages stored there, racing on horses, nearly drowning, etc. ...more
Emese
Picking nits.

A Newberry Honor Book with lots of small, but annoying inaccuracies about Hungarian culture, myths and folklore.

Kate Seredy uses Hungarian names of everything like coat=suba, prairie=puszta, and names like Jancsi and Árpád without giving notes on pronounciation or origins. I would think this confuses the young reader.

The only character with a name with an Americanized spelling, "Kati" is actually "Kate", a name that could never be a Hungarian name, not even in the capital city. Wh
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Stephanie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gloria
Feb 18, 2010 Gloria rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ages 7-11
Recommended to Gloria by: Teacher
Shelves: junior-high
This story just did not resonate for me, and I have to say that I do not think many children today would list it as a favorite. It is soundly constructed, but it is simply outdated. The book jacket says it is a story that 9- to 12-year-olds should not miss, but I think today’s pre-teens in many ways are “older” today and as such this book would probably stop appealing to any child over 10 years old.

There are references that, if left unexplained, would not have the same impact with today’s youth.
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Gale
THE PRAIRIE CURE!

Returning to her roots (THE WHITE STAG,1938 Newbery Winner) Kate Seredy shares a nostalgic portrait of the Hungarian plains in this Newbery Honor book. The relatively peaceful lifestyle of Jancsi and his farming parents is shattered by the arrival of Kate, a whirlwind from Budapest. City clashes with country as the cousins verbally battle it out; this tomboy in skirts creates turmoil both indoors and and out, in private and in public.

Yet as the seasons melt into each other unt
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Angela Alcorn
This was a charming book, with lots of good lessons for kids on how to be a decent person. The day to day life of the farm was idyllic and peaceful - yes there's work involved, but it's a simple sort of work with real importance and value.

There are several times where value is placed on quality of life, working for love and building things that last rather than just being a part of the daily grind. Certainly worth recommending to someone with a work-life balance issue.

Throughout the book are lo
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Bonnie
Jan 12, 2011 Bonnie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Zoli, Ditta, Kata and Sharon
Recommended to Bonnie by: Jean Hinckely
After reading the author's book, Peter and the Tree, and saw that this book, The Good Master, was a Newbery Honor book, I thought I'd give it a look-see. Liking what I saw, I whizzed through this beautiful little book in no time at all. Having a dear Hungarian friend for some 14 years or so now, and knowing very little of his country, I fell in love with the idyllic countryside from where this book hales.

The author introduces a citified spoiled and somewhat mean-spirited girl cousin into the li
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Melissa
Longer review coming later, but I just wanted to jot down a quote I like:

'"You know, Jancsi, I think something wonderful has happened," said Father thoughtfully. "It's such an everyday story to us. We know that seeds will grow into plants. But how? Why? What makes them? To Kate it's a miracle--and so it is. Look at those tiny seedlings. See how they struggle up through heavy clumps of earth to reach the light and sun. We are so used to it that we take it for granted, instead of getting on our kn
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Deb
Sometimes a reader comes across a book that makes a deeper mark than the usual just by blessed luck. I found my beautiful old copy of The Good Master in a bookshop that I don't frequent. I picked it up for it's gorgeous dust jacket...and set it back. I actually left the store, and hours later, at a coffee shop a short walk away decided I *had* to go back for that book. I'm so glad I did...not only is it a visual treat with the above mentioned dust jacket and endearing illustrations throughout bu ...more
HeavyReader
Here's a blast from my past!

I had totally forgotten about this book until the other day when I overheard my 67 year old friend describing it to a third party. "I read that book too!" I piped in. I was super excited that she and I had read the same book as girls (at least twenty years apart) and super impressed that she remembered its name.

I totally love (and remember) this cover.
Diana Glyer
Yes, it is quaint, charming, sweet, and rather old-fashioned. It is also one of my all-time favorite books. When I was a child, I read it over and over and over again. I loved the story, and I loved the line drawings, too. All of the characters seemed very real to me; in fact, Kate absolutely inspired me with her strength and courage and reckless joy in life. A wonderful book, and wise.
Hessie
This is such a gem of a book! I read this 1935 honor book aloud to my four and nine year old boys and they really enjoyed it. The characters are well written and the story starts off with some really fun events that made my boys want to keep reading. It is such a unique story of culture and life in Hungary almost one hundred years ago yet the characters are written so that even my modern American kids can relate. We loved learning about some of the stories and traditions of that region. Another ...more
Kelsey
Age: 4th-5th grade, for advanced readers
Awards: Newbery

"Jancsi is overjoyed to hear that his cousin from Budapest is coming to spend the summer on his father's ranch on the Hungarian plains. But their summer proves more adventurous than he had hoped when headstrong Kate arrives, as together they share horseback races across the plains, country fairs and festivals, and a dangerous run-in with the gypsies" (Goodreads featured review).

Seredy provides a unique female character that remains true to h
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Sara
A sweet, wholesome children's story. Set in the plains of Hungary, very authentic! Strong underlying Christian themes.

Highly recommended, esp. for younger children. The tone may seem a bit saccharine for older children or adult reading. I understand the sequel THE SINGING TREE is also an excellent book, with more mature themes.
Matildaatwar
I read this book to prepare for my upcoming trip to Hungary. This is clearly written in a different era and intended for a younger audience. The story seems pretty cliche but it was still a fun adventure.

It provided some insight of what life is like in a village on the great Hungarian plains.
Susan Hatch
This morning I was thinking about the books Jocelyn had listed for Easter and my mind suddenly remembered this marvelous book. I can't tell you why I have loved it over the years but I have. It's an overall tender and sweet and funny story...touching in it's simplicity. It's a book that ought to be read with the family...a chapter at a time...or just quietly curled up by yourself.

I had a neighbor who was from Hungarian descent. And one Easter time we were all chased by the dad who sprinkled us w
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Nancy
I love it that my kids read so much that they "make" me read a book that they love, but I have not yet read. Over the years, I've collected various Kate Seredy books at library sales over the years, and the kids have read and loved all of them.

Best-loved of all was The Good Master, and I agree it's wonderful. This would be a nice nighttime read-aloud for younger kids (under 10?) whose attention can hold for the longish chapters. Lovely stories and sketches of Hungary.
Jessie
I had to read this book for school and I really liked it. Then I learned that it was written in the early 1930's! I couldn't tell a difference from modern literature! So definitely a good read and I'm going to read the sequel!
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
The children's book from the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read list was, happily, time better spent than time spent reading adult books this week. The Good Master is the story of a boy who lives with his family on a farm in Hungary. His city cousin comes to stay with the family to recuperate from illness and the boy and his cousin have a number of adventures, including a kidnapping by gypsies. The copyright date of 1935 brings a feeling of authenticity to the story of a boy who genuinely plans ...more
Christiana
This is a very sweet book, with magical illustrations (done by the author).

A simple tale of childhood in Hungary a century or so past, this book offers nothing indelible to the adult reader, but I would happily give this to a child who liked Little House on the Prairie or Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. (The later has emotional weight, I think, but is similarly a glimpse into the traditions of another culture and time.) Cute and heartwarming.
Laurie
Jul 25, 2008 Laurie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Preteens
Shelves: juvenile
Someone recommended this book to me as one of their most favorite horse stories growing up. While I wouldn't call it a horse story (it has horses in it, but it is not about the horses), I enjoyed reading it. The Good Master is an old-fashioned children's chapter book. In the story, which takes place in Hungary just before WWI, a city girl, Kate, is sent to live with her uncle's family out in the country. She and her cousin Jansci have many adventures and, over the summer, Kate learns some life l ...more
Jodi Smedley
Overall, this story is about a city girl, Kate, who comes to live with her Uncle Marton and his family in the country. It's a coming of age story as a spoiled city girl confronts a harder side of life and grows from it. She becomes a very capable "farm hand" to Uncle Marton, alongside her cousin Jansci.

Amidst this story are several short stories, ranging from the tale of Santa Claus to cowboys. Each of those stories stand alone, while still adding to the overall theme. As Kate stays in the count
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Seredy (Serédy Kató) was a gifted writer and illustrator, born in Hungary, who moved to the United States in 1922. She is best known for The Good Master, written in 1935, and for the Newbery Award winner, The White Stag.
More about Kate Seredy...

Other Books in the Series

Kate and Jancsi (2 books)
  • The Singing Tree
The White Stag The Singing Tree The Chestry Oak A Tree for Peter Philomena

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