Starry's Reviews > The Singing Tree

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
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May 08, 11

bookshelves: juvenile, fiction

In this sequel to The Good Master (a juvenile novel set in rural Hungary in the early 1900s), cousins Kate and Jancsi are now 15 years old and still enjoying a serene life rich with Hungarian traditions. However, this life ends abruptly with the outbreak of World War I. Suddenly, Kate and Jancsi must shoulder the tasks of adults, see their fathers and neighbors off to war, and share their house with neighbors, relatives, Russian prisoners of war, and German refugee children.

This novel has a happy ending and is full of warmth and strong messages of peace and brotherhood. One central character is the kindly and patriotic Jewish shopkeeper who takes care of the whole village and is loved by all who know him. The author repeats again and again that we are all essentially alike: Jew, German, Russian, and Hungarian. We all long for peace and home and family. We all feel the same emotions.

The tragedy of this novel is that it was written in 1939, just before World War 2 began. The author's happy ending cannot stay happy, and her hard-hitting messages about loving our Jewish neighbors and about peace and brotherhood will not prevent the coming atrocities. Jancsi will be the right age to fight. Hungary will be forced to join the Axis. Hungarian soldiers will help in the invasion of Russian, and Russia will invade Hungary. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews will end their lives in concentration camps, and hundreds of thousands of Hungarian soldiers and civilians will die in the war. A dark, dark cloud!
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