Life in Kate’s Hungarian family never seems to stop changing. They move into Kate’s father’s brother’s house, where Kate learns to live with her cousin, Jansci. They take in a spoiled girl named Lily. Kate’s father, Sandor Nagy, and Jansci’s father, Marton Nagy, leave to fight in World War I. The family takes in people suffering from the war such as their grandparents, a young woman named Mari, six Russian prisoners, and six German children.
As a young teenager, Kate is confused by the differences and language barriers at first, but she learns to accept them. She realizes that all people, no matter what nationality, are “all same,” as the Russian prisoner Grigori told her. The German child, Hans, accepts the Russians and begins to like them despite the bad but untrue things he had heard about Russians in his hometown.
When Marton Nagy returned from the war, he told his family a true story that happened while he was in the army: He and the other soldiers were tired and weary. There were no animals or other living things in sight, and they thought they would never see any again. They noticed one lone apple tree covered with singing birds. This tree, which they called the “singing tree,” gave them new hope.
This book shows the horrors of war and the power of compassion. There is suspense in finding out which characters survived the war and which did not. A kind storekeeper named Uncle Moses was a Jew who helped people to disbelieve the lies about Jews that were being spread at that time.
I really enjoyed reading The Singing Tree, sequel toThe Good Master. Kate Seredy gives the reader a clear picture of life during World War I, and this book shows how people feel when someone they love is in the military. It also shows how in a war, an individual who to some people is just another soldier or even an enemy, to someone else could be a friend or relative. I recommend The Singing Tree to anyone who is interested in war-time historical fiction or stories so realistic it feels like you are really there.
Webster Christian School student, Grade 8