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The Chestry Oak

4.55  ·  Rating Details ·  221 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Young Michael of Hungary carries an acorn all the way from his castle home in Chestry Valley to the warm soil of the Hudson Valley farm in the USA where he makes a new home after WWII.

It was difficult to decide which are the most unforgettable; the scenes in Hungary, Michael's proud, valiant father and his beloved Nana, or the friendly young GI and his family who take Mich
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published 1948 by Viking Juvenile
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(showing 1-30)
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Nov 02, 2012 Josiah rated it it was amazing
"One had to be so careful...about remembering things. Thinking and remembering were something like walking along well-known paths and passageways that always used to lead to something lovely...but now, the same paths and passageways might end in something dead or frightening.
Yes, one had to walk on tiptoe, remembering to look carefully ahead and turn quickly away before one was faced with something ruined or dead. The thing to do was to make little tunnels or thoughtways, from now to once-upon
Sep 23, 2007 Grace rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I love this book. Love, love, love, love, love, love. Get it? Got it. Good.

Unfortunately, despite its grippingly dramatic (how's *that* for a cliched phrase?) story, style and illustrations, this book is quite rare and almost impossible to find for less than an arm and a leg. Which means I don't have a copy. Sadness.
Nov 18, 2012 K. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to K. by: JoDean
What a treasure! Someone please reprint this lost book!

If I paste the link to this review here:

Can you find it? I hope so, because Mr. Jones says almost everything I don't have time today to say.

If not, and if you are interested, look up Josiah Jones's review of this book.

At any rate, this was a MARVELOUS, GORGEOUS, MAGNIFICENT book. I hope it's okay with the owner of the copy I'm currently borrowing, but I'm absolutely forcing my two eldest to read th
Douglas Wilson
Nov 18, 2016 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a kid lit book from the late forties that I saw reviewed recently in a magazine, and decided for some reason to read. It is quite good and really satisfying. If you have kids who roar around the house looking for reading material, you might try this one on them. After all, it has the mother of all blurbs on the back cover -- "A masterpiece of childhood literature" -- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
On the topic of favorite books:

Finding a favorite book is a series of events for me. First, I read the book. Sometimes months or years go by. Then, I remember the book fondly. Finally, I reread the book and if it is as favorable of a read as it was the first time, it usually becomes a favorite of mine.

I started this book last Sunday and had the feeling that it could become a favorite. Finished it yesterday and I can already tell that it goes in the favorites pile. Even more, it might be my top f
Dec 12, 2010 Ben rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Amazingly stirring, adventerous, and understanding. Written beautiful voice by Kate Seredy. The Chestry Oak is a tale of good and evil, of love and family, of hardships, of horses, and of the earth. It tells the story of a young Hungarian prince's coming of age in a time of war, the German occupation of WWII, and of his eventual journey to an American home. The way it captured the hearts of its characters, especially Michael, swelled my own. Never before has a book made me feel loss so deep, and ...more
Rebekah Morris
Nov 22, 2016 Rebekah Morris rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure when I first started reading this book if I was going to like it. It was a bit different in style than I was used to. But before long I was pulled into the story and didn't want to put it down. When I reached the end, well, I wished it wasn't the end. I wanted to watch the oak grow, meet the black foal, hear from overseas and so much more. It was a look at WWII that I hadn't considered before mostly because I've never read much about Hungary during the war. I may just have to go an ...more
May 26, 2009 Diana rated it it was amazing
I love this one! An absolutely beautiful story. I read it when I was much younger and it still had the same wonderful charm that I remembered when I had the chance to re-read it over a decade later. For some reason this one always stays with me. Love it, one of my all time favorites.
Leslie Sewell
Sep 09, 2014 Leslie Sewell rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I love this book. I first read it as a child, and even today the sheer beauty of the story and Kate Seredy's writing bring me to tears. My favorite book, ever.
Dec 16, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A simple, lovely, moving tale about love and courage. This needs to be back in print so generations to come can learn from it!
Mar 17, 2017 Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love The Chestry Oak because it has a depth and profundity to it that I cannot put into words. On its surface this is a fictional novel about a young Hungarian boy but it's true substance is so much more. This books tackles the most significant issues of life; good and evil, past and future, calm, peace, and joy and hardship, suffering, and pain, and most importantly it examines how one should live in light of all those things. One of my two favorite novels of all time and one of the best and ...more
Sep 05, 2016 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone over 10
Beautiful. I read this for the second time nearly two decades after it first made me cry as a ten-year-old, and the effect it had was even more profound. The writing style is beautiful, fanciful even, at times, almost like an oral history or legend, but with such a strong dose of reality that the story feels lived (Seredy does a wonderful job of presenting war through the eyes of a child). The characters engrave themselves on your heart, and make you want to live with loyalty, honor, courage, an ...more
Feb 13, 2016 DirtRoadPrincess rated it it was amazing
The Chestry Oak is, in my opinion, the best piece of children’s literature – ever. Written and illustrated by Kate Seredy in 1948, this book has stood and will continue to stand the test of time. They say a picture is worth a thousand words – not so. This book uses words to create a masterpiece of ageless truths and ideals. Honor, courage, pride, the strength and resilience of the human spirit, boundless love, and, above all, unbreakable hope. Very few books are either beautiful or powerful enou ...more
Aug 13, 2016 Lori rated it it was amazing
I wanted to read this "childrens' book" because it was about Hungary and horses and was written in 1948 (when I was born) and because it was so influential to an author I just read. It was everything I hoped for and more - beautifully written, true storytelling in which passion and heart shine through. It made me realize how important it is to not confine ourselves to "adult" literature even though we may not have children to read to. Bringing back the classics is a new reading mission for me.
It was difficult for me to really get into the first several chapters of this book: it begins very deep and serious - and rather sad. I missed the peaceful simplicity that I have come to love in Seredy's books. If the early mood had persisted much longer, it would have made a very solemn book; but the story picked up and the second half is full of childish optimism and charm. I enjoyed it very much and feel that it was well worth the read.
Aug 03, 2015 Ladybute rated it really liked it
Beautiful story. Fascinating look at the evils of WWII through the eyes of a young boy. The pacing was a little slow for my kids when we read aloud and some of the abstractions were confusing, but ultimately they were drawn in. The pace of the story picks up in the second half. Wonderful discussion of what it means to be uprooted and how to remain true to our identities even when everything around us is changing. Very satisfying ending, ultimate triumph of good over evil.
Catherine Meza
Jul 15, 2014 Catherine Meza rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly evocative, magical book I've been wanting to read for a long time. Kate Seredy's charcoal illustrations are fantastic. One of the few books that has the power to make me cry at the end. There is little I can add to the other reviews; the 1948 edition is long out of print, and a good copy costs three figures on Amazon. Thanks to the power of inter-library loan, I have read the book as it was meant to be seen. Great experience.
Amy Wilder
Nov 16, 2009 Amy Wilder rated it really liked it
Sad, sad story. A young boy, a prince, is forced in a time of war to flee his country and leave behind the horse he loves.
Years later, in America, the boy and horse are brought together again by coincidence.
It's a simple plot but so movingly told that I remember this as one of the teariest reads of my entire life.
May 21, 2008 Harmony rated it really liked it
I hardly remember this book because I was pretty young when I read it (or maybe my mom read it to me. hmmm.) I just remember loving it a lot!! I remember the beginning pretty clearly and the end. Sorry I can't give a better review. The best thing I can say is to definitely read it, or at least read it to your kid if/when you have one.
May 19, 2012 Stacy rated it really liked it
You know when I saw this on a list several people gave it 5 stars. I think I'm just a little to old now, or had to high expectations. However I thought it would be level with "Where the Red Fern Grows" or something like that, but it was just o.k. I think a child would really love it. It was just pretty good. I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other classics.
Sep 16, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It did not draw me in quick but it did hold my attention and once it got going I had to keep reading, only wished the story had kept going.

A young prince in Hungary, Nazi's using his father's castle as a secret stronghold, the boys majestic stallion and his journey to a new future.
Sep 06, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book sat for years on my bookshelf as I thought the cover looked boring (slap me now!!!). When I did finally pick it up and read it I must have been about 15, and I SOOO fell in love with the characters ( trying not to give anything away lol). And EVERY time I read it I cry at the end
Apr 17, 2016 Lmichelleb rated it it was amazing
The beauty of this book has stunned me, and I don't believe I yet have words to give a hint of the deep waters of this story. Honor, courage, determination, hope: it's all here, made more startlingly beautiful against the backdrop of a twisted darkness. Do read and see for yourself!
Oct 21, 2008 Annette rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Annette by: my mom
This is one of my very favorite children's books--beautifully written! It's not a happy story, but it is very hopeful because it demonstrates the incredible strength of the human spirit to overcome incredible obstacles and to begin anew.
Sep 10, 2008 LaLine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Almost historical fiction. I read this book after living in Hungary and many aspects sounded very familiar. A touching look at what happens to a boy torn from his family, his home, and his country, and the family that adopted him.
Aug 14, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing
I just finished The Chestry Oak. Satisfying, rich, and full of goodness, it celebrates everything that is good and right about humanity. It is remarkably authentic and reminded me of what we can have when we choose character over vice and courage over despair. Moving and touching. I loved it.
Sep 29, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is just so wonderful. It broke my heart but when my heart healed I'm confident it had grown three sizes. If I were in charge I'd make it a law that all mothers would read this aloud to their children.
Feb 03, 2011 Logan marked it as to-read
Shelves: historical, cultural
WHY: Excellent WWII story about a Hungarian boy who is forced to flee Hungary and leave behind his beloved horse. Very hard to find and the library doesn't have it, so the hunt is on! I love this kind of challenge.
Jan 07, 2011 Marlene rated it liked it
Liked The Singing Tree more.
Mar 21, 2016 Tracie rated it really liked it
This is a great book with a wonderful story. The characters are so real and easy to love!
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Chestry Oak--Any big fans? 1 5 Feb 08, 2013 04:38AM  
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Seredy (Serédy Kató) was a gifted writer and illustrator, born in Hungary, who moved to the United States in 1922.
Seredy received a diploma to teach art from the Academy of Arts in Budapest. During World War I Seredy travelled to Paris and worked as a combat nurse. After the war she illustrated several books in Hungary.
She is best known for The Good Master, written in 1935, and for the Newbery Aw
More about Kate Seredy...

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“(W)hen a load is too heavy for one horse to pull, what do we do? Hitch another to it, don't we? That's just common sense. Well, son, things that sort of weigh on a man's mind and heart may be too heavy for him to make much headway with alone.” 6 likes
“One had to be so careful...about remembering things. Thinking and remembering were something like walking along well-known paths and passageways that always used to lead to something lovely...but now, the same paths and passageways might end in something dead or frightening.
Yes, one had to walk on tiptoe, remembering to look carefully ahead and turn quickly away before one was faced with something ruined or dead. The thing to do was to make little tunnels or thoughtways, from now to once-upon-a-time, each leading to a lovely thing to remember.”
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