The Singing Tree

There are lots of good lines in this children’s book by Kate Seredy, but this is my favorite. It comes after Jancsi’s father joined the army without telling anyone and Jancsi had to return home to his mother without him.

Under that gentle smile she was hiding the same fear, smiling so we wouldn’t be frightened. Just as she was smiling when I came home without him and she said: I know, Jancsi. He kissed us good-by… So women were not all gentle, helpless softness, either; they too had a steel armor that would not let them show the tears inside.
The last shred of harsh, small-boyish pride in his new manhood left Jancsi then; he was all man now, bowing his head to the strength of a woman.

— from The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy, 1939

A powerful book. I haven’t read it to my kids yet. They’ll appreciate it more when they are older, I think. It’s a rare find: a World War I story which takes place in Hungary and focuses on the strength of goodness and equality.


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