The Good Master

Book cover: 'The Good Master'
Kate Seredy
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The Good Master by Kate Seredy is a timeless tale of the goodness of the land and of the Faith. Set in Hungary before World War I, a young impish girl, Kate, is sent to the country because her father, a widower, cannot control her anymore. When she arrives she is a world class brat but she is tamed by her uncle through discipline and love. She is somewhat fearless and zealous to try everything the farm life has to offer and this leads her and her cousin Jancsi on many humorous farm adventures.

Throughout the story are beautiful vignettes on the wholesome Catholic life of the people, feast day celebrations, and traditions. There are also several Hungarian folk tales inspiringly told by the shepherds and an old miller. Kate finds a place to bloom and is able to give some back in return. She starts a school for Jancsi and the shepherds, teaching them to read. In the end her father, a school teacher comes to join them in the country and the improvement of his daughter overwhelms him. They convince him to stay in the country and reap the benefits of the the good life they have there.

There is much to be recommended in this story. The example of the "Good Master," Kate's uncle Marton, is the strongest in the story. His treatment of Kate is analogous to our "Good Master" in heaven. The story allows for much discussion of a father's love and the discipline involved in it. It is also a beautiful story to show the universality of the Church as we see the Faith practiced in another culture.

The story is beautifully written and illustrated. If you're lucky enough to find a hard cover version from the Sixties, you have some bonus color portraits of Kate and Jancsi, which as a child, I never tired of gazing over. The illustrations of authentic Hungarian costumes and folk art are a great addition to the story.

Recommended for grade 4+ (We read it to our young children, ages 3-8, and they loved it.)

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