Friday 21 July 2017

The Singing Tree

Over the next year, one of our history topics will be the First World War so I have been looking for some child friendly historical fiction about this time.

Earlier in the year, the book club read The Good Master which is set in Hungary in the years preceding the First World War. Most conveniently, there is a sequel, The Singing Tree which is set in the First World War.
The book starts with arrangements for a wedding in traditional Hungarian style, however, the wedding takes place on 28th June 1914 and as the villagers go home, the men hear the news of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Of course, over the next few weeks, war starts. No one, on the Hungarian plain really knows why they are fighting but the men gradually disappear to war. The farm work is increasingly left to the old and young men and the women. In particular, thirteen year old Jancsi has to run a large farm, as the Little Master. 

As time passes, Jancsi's uncle becomes a prisoner of war in Russia and his father is missing. The farm acquires Russian prisoners of war as farm hands and then hungry German children as evacuees. 

The book has themes

  • the pointlessness of war
  • ordinary people on both sides are much the same
  • people are worthy of respect regardless of race.
  • the psychological effects of war
An interesting motif, in view of what happened latter, is the important role of the Jewish shop keeper in the village. There are points when there is some foreshadowing both of Jewish persecution and of communist sentiment. 

This is a fascinating and sensitive book which should cause some thought. Ideal for children aged 8 to 12. There are no vivid descriptions of fighting in the book although some minor characters die and a major character is in a military hospital.

Highly recommended.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterestInstagram or e-mail.


  1. My children really enjoyed both those books. She has another set in WW2 - 'The Chestry Oak.' It was oop for many years but was re-published a couple of years ago.

    1. Carol, thank you. I will look out for that especially, as we hope to end the year, learning about WW2.

  2. We have the Good Master, incredibly well written. I would love to read the sequel!