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Good Master (Kate and Jancsi #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,884 Ratings  ·  135 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

Hardcover, 196 pages
Published May 6th 1986 by Turtleback Books (first published 1935)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I'm reposting this review because this book ends with Christmas! It's set in Hungary in the early 1930s, and if you like nostalgic, heartwarming children's fiction or want ideas for Christmas presents, this book is so good. I read it so many times when I was a 10-15 year old bookworm that I'm surprised my copy of the book stayed in one piece.

Full review:
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 whe
Apr 27, 2011 Starry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile, fiction
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
Jan 06, 2016 Dianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1936 Newbery Honor book. This is like the Little House books, except set in Hungary. I loved everything: the folk tales, Kate's antics, the details of everyday living. Why is this book not better known today? It deserves to be read.
Penelope Dreadfulle
I received this book from my father for my tenth 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
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
Feb 20, 2008 Emese rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: k-12-books
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
Aug 30, 2009 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 12, 2010 Phoebe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2016 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in seventh grade and loved it. I love books that have stories within stories, like this one. And I love books that aren't really about anything, but just mosey along!

Kate is a problem child, but I like how The Good Master parented her and for pete's sake can I throw this book at some parents I know?!

My favorite story was the rooster one. I used to tell that to all the little kids I knew, and then I completely forgot it! But now I know it, so I'll tell it again :D

I loved this boo
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!
Apr 22, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 26, 2016 Karyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, children-s
This is a beautiful story! I love the message of hard work and good character that comes from it. We read this in our homeschool and I am so glad. My kids adored it, too! There are so many funny parts that kept them laughing.
Feb 12, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book for the whole family.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Back in elementary school, an edited version of parts of chapters 1 and 2 of this book was in my guided reading book. For some reason our teacher didn't use it in class, but I remember reading and enjoying the story of wild Kate who climbed up in the rafters and stole the sausages. I had never heard of Hungary, or Budapest, but it sounded interesting.

Fast forward 45 years and I came across a copy of the book the story was taken from. Unfortunately the beautifully-drawn illustrations are in blac
Jan 24, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 25, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2010 Gloria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
Heidi Willis
Mar 29, 2016 Heidi Willis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool
Although this takes place in Hungary, it reminded me very much of the Little House on the Prairie books. There is not a lot of conflict in this, and most of it is fairly upbeat, but it gives a good perspective of living on a farm in a time when living on a farm meant harvesting your own food, slaughtering your own pigs, growing your own flax to weave and make your own clothes, and getting up before dawn to milk the cows by hand. The characters were likeable, each in their own distinct way.
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
Jan 12, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 21, 2013 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Diana Glyer
Sep 12, 2014 Diana Glyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 17, 2014 Hessie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 knees to thank the Lord for another gift!"'

This story has some
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
Jan 15, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ma'lis Wendt
Oct 13, 2015 Ma'lis Wendt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book multiple times as a kid and loved it. It's still good after all these years. Cousin Kate is sent to the farm on the Hungarian plains to recover from the measles. She and Jancsi have many adventures during her first year there. A great picture of pre-WWI Hungary with many folk tales in the text.
Jun 05, 2015 Marcy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This 1936 Newbery Honor book is a sweet reminder of gentle storytelling. Children exposed to the history and traditions shared in this book will have a deeper experience of life than those who never get to read it. It would be a good family read aloud. The talented author also wonderfully illustrated the book.
Catherine Gillespie
The Good Master makes an excellent read-aloud, although my older kids kept taking the book to read ahead, so I suppose it’s a good read alone as well! The book tells the story of a family on the Hungarian plains in the early 1900s (pre-World War I). Their old fashioned life is interrupted by a cousin from the city (where there are cars and radios and people don’t wear traditional Hungarian clothes) but rhythyms of the animals, food production, and seasons carry on and are showcased beautifully a ...more
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Seredy (Serédy Kató) was a gifted writer and illustrator, born in Hungary, who moved to the United States in 1922.
Seredy received a diploma to teach art from the Academy of Arts in Budapest. During World War I Seredy travelled to Paris and worked as a combat nurse. After the war she illustrated several books in Hungary.
She is best known for The Good Master, written in 1935, and for the Newbery Aw
More about Kate Seredy...

Other Books in the Series

Kate and Jancsi (2 books)
  • The Singing Tree

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