The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly
This is a story about a hen called Sprout. She’s an egg-laying hen, kept in the coop where she cannot wander around or even flap her wings. She watches as the farmer takes her eggs away every morning; she yearns to be able to sit on one and hatch out her own little chick. She catches glimpses through the barn door of the world outside: the family of ducks waddling up the hill, the old dog guarding the gate, the tall, handsome rooster digging through the compost pile hunting for food for the barnyard hen and her adorable chicks. This is where she wants to be. She starts to hatch her plan. The animal characters in this barn are reminiscent of those in Charlotte’s Web, where everyone knows their place and knows who is in charge. We meet Straggler, a mallard duck who is partly instrumental in Sprout gaining her freedom, and a one-eyed weasel who is always hungry for tasty fresh meat.
But the utter beauty and simplicity of the story reminds me of another book I loved: Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Like Jonathan, Sprout is also lonely, and she has the same driving desire to live a better life. In trying to achieve this better life, her passionate individuality and a mother’s love that even surpasses concerns for her own safety shine through. This beautiful little book with its simple line drawings has recently been translated from Korean into English. It’s now on my bookshelf awaiting the next person who would appreciate it.
Reviewed by Merle Morcom
Born in 1963, Sun-mi Hwang first published The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly in the Korean language in 2000. It became an instant hit and stayed on bestseller lists for a decade. It has deeply touched many people, and it has since been adapted into a comic book, a musical.