Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Sun-Mi Hwang Makes a Hen’s Dream Come True
An egg laying hen named Sprout can’t lay eggs anymore. She’s tossed aside and left to die, but her survival instincts are strong. With the encouragement of Straggler, the wild duck, Sprout avoids death and plans to live the rest of her life as a free bird. It’s not an easy life, death is around every corner: starvation, disease, weasel, or farmer. When Sprout finds an egg, she sees a way to make her biggest dream come true, to raise a chick of her own.
For those of you who like your anthropomorphized animals on the realistic side, like Watership Down or Charlotte’s Web, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is for you. Sprout’s reality is a harsh one. The farm animals are unkind (with the exception of Straggler) and being a hen on her own is dangerous business. Sprout’s thoughts and dreams are quite human. She wants to raise a chick of her own. When it turns out Baby isn’t quite the chick she expected, she has to adjust her thinking. It’s not easy.
There is a human element to The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly. Sprout wants to be free, she has dreams. The challenges she faces in raising Baby can be compared to human families, especially multi-cultural families. There’s even a pearl-clutching “Won’t someone think of the children moment” from the other animals. In the end, Sprout does what’s best for Baby, even at great cost to herself.
The Hen That Dreamed She Could Fly is a simply told tale. It’s charming, but not saccharine. Sun-Mi Hwang herself is a bit of a Sprout. She was unable to go to school as a child, but went on to sell over 2 million copies of this little book.
Translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim, illustrations by Nomoco.