The Singing Tree

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The Singing Tree
The Singing Tree cover.jpg
First edition cover
Author Kate Seredy
Illustrator Kate Seredy
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Viking Books
Publication date
1939
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 247 pp
ISBN 0-670-64700-4
Preceded by The Good Master

The Singing Tree is a children's novel by Kate Seredy, the sequel to The Good Master. Also illustrated by Seredy, it was a Newbery Honor book in 1940. Set in rural Hungary four years after The Good Master, it continues the story of Kate and Jancsi, showing the effect of World War I on the people and land.

Plot Summary[edit]

( none )

Critical reception[edit]

The Singing Tree was well received when it came out. Horn Book Magazine included it on its Fanfare list of the best books of 1939.[1] Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review for "books of remarkable merit", saying it "might well be a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Peace. It has all the charm in text and pictures of its predecessor, The Good Master, and more mature technique. Story movingly told, skillfully interweaving incident and idea."[2] In 1940 The Singing Tree was named a Newbery Honor book.[3]

More recently, children's literature expert Anita Silvey singled out the book's "strong and moving narrative".[4] A review in the Fresno Literature Examiner is more qualified in its praise. "The Singing Tree, like The Good Master, is a memorable tale for children to learn from by evoking powerful ideas of love and friendship through its text... However, Seredy’s display of political correctness somehow hurts the novel’s content".[5]

Themes[edit]

Seredy was not afraid to tackle social issues in her books.[4] She suffered physically and emotionally from the effects of nursing on the front during World War I, and she drew on her experience in several of her books, including the Singing Tree.[6] It appeared in 1939, at the beginning of World War II, but Seredy did not write a patriotic story. Instead, war and the damage it does to people and the land is her theme.[6] While the farm becomes a place of refuge for people from both sides of the conflict, leaving it to join the fighting almost destroys Uncle Marton. Seredy did not confine her story to showing only the problems of war for one side. According to Ann Bartholomew in Twentieth-Century Children's Writers Seredy was "one of the first children's writers to have dealt with the problems of the alien" during war times.[7]

The Singing Tree Project[edit]

Inspired by Kate Seredy's book, artist Laurie Marshall founded the Singing Tree Project in 2000 when 8 year-old Meredith Miller asked her "What if the whole world made a painting together?" Having no clue how to undertake such an exciting and daunting project, Marshall read Kate Seredy's central story of a single tree left standing in World War I with birds who are not usually together singing a song that had never been heard before. She saw that the earth is like the Singing Tree of the galaxy, surrounded by no life for billions of miles. Humans can choose to destroy each other and the planet, or create something beautiful that has never been heard before. The model of a tree on the earth in space became the underlying structure for the collaborative Singing Tree mural process.

Over 15,000 people from 50 countries have created an international Singing Tree Forest of 38 murals so far. Singing Trees are a visual model of democracy and a vehicle for peace building. The project adheres to three principals of nature: It is replicable. It has a clear goal with local conditions determining the form. It is based on interdependence. Each Singing Tree is a different conversation about an issue that is of importance to the community. They have ranged from autism, freedom from addiction, homelessness, peace, sustainability, innovation, the gift of femininity, gratitude and appreciative.

The Singing Tree Collaborative Mural Methodology is based on the consciousness that:

  • Humans occupy a rare and precious planet
  • Trees and nature are essential for human survival and the model for our flourishing
  • All the leaves of the tree work for the benefit of the tree and have an important role
  • Humans can create prosperity, health and beauty for all

The collaborative mural process is a vehicle for conversation that transforms the greatest challenges an organization or community is facing, drawing upon the genius and wisdom of the community to envision a shared vision of success and spark innovations. Anyone is free to create a Singing Tree in their community. Kate Seredy's novel has spawned a flowering of the opposite of war - an inclusive invitation for all people to create together.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Book awards: A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book". LibraryThing. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
  2. ^ "The Singing Tree". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  3. ^ "Newbery Awards". Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  4. ^ a b Silvey, Anita, Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton Mifflin, 1995, pg. 588;
  5. ^ Gorna, Natalie (8 September 2011). "Part 3: Kate Seredy was a storyteller of unknown legends". Fresno Literature Examiner. 
  6. ^ a b Cech, John, Dictionary of Literary Biographies, Gale Research, 1983, Vol. 22, pg. 300.
  7. ^ Chevalier, Tracy (editor), Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, St. James Press, 1989, pp. 871;