The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun Mi Huang

the hen who dreamed she could flyThis is one of my most favorite books (or novellas) that I had read last year, 2013. This time, I am given a fiction book to read from Asia continent. South Korea, to be precised. It’s quite rare to read the Korean literature. According to what I read, it’s because of the  translation’s problems. The white book cover made me awe at the first sight, reminding me that simplicity is always beautiful. Well, we might need to bring ourselves back to life’s non-complicated values.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly refers to a coop hen, named Sprout who is frustrated with her caged life. As you may know, some hens spent their entire life in a coop and their only job is to lay eggs, which cannot be hatched by them. They watch their eggs roll away; taken by the farmer and his wife to be sold. She daydreams a plan to escape, seeking a life outside the barn where others animals appear to roam free and where she feels it most likely to be able to achieve her dream of nurturing an egg to life. In the first few pages, Sprout manages to lay her very last egg. The egg is soft and delicate. Sadly, it does not please the farmer. He angrily throws the egg away, making Sprout watch it break, and said that Sprout needs to be culled. And which means, to be slaughthered.

Sprout survives the cull, thanks to a duck named Straggler, who is actually a wild duck. He can’t fly and he warns her about the weasel. They have a narrow escape. Along the way, Sprout meet the old dog that guards the barn, the rooster who crows in the morning, the yard hen, a community of ducks and the lone hungry weasel. Sprout doesn’t feel she is belonged there. The rooster, who happens to be the ‘leader’ of the barn, forbids her to be part of them. With nowhere to go, Sprout goes into the fields.

Sprout is in the fields, when she hears a dying duck. Thinking it is Staggler, she tries to rush the scene. She is a second too late. There are only swishing ferns, and then, silence. Sprout finds an egg in the briar patch exactly in the spot where she thinks that Straggler had died. When no mother returns that night, she claims it as her own. She is now the protector of the egg, a nurturer, a mother-in-waiting. Her choices and wellbeing take on new vitality, even though the egg turns out to be a duck.

Like I said in the beginning, the beauty of this story lies in its simplicity. This is not just an ordinary fairy tale, this is fable at its best, reminding me of Charlotte’s Web (see my sister’s blog on Charlotte’s Web) and my favorite story of all time, Animal Farm. This story is showing me that while achieving the goal can be possible, it is a route fraught with challenges. I am still eleven (and half) years old, but I know my future is slowly unfolded. My most far-fetched dreams are worth pursuing, no matter what the odds.

The movie of this story had came out in Korea. I realize that they had changed the names, and a little bit of the plot. Its title is Leafie, A Hen Into The Wild. I watched its trailer and it is very, very… interesting.

Hwang Sun Mi is a South Korean author who is an author and a profesor, who is best known for the children book, The Hen Who Dreamed That She Could Fly. Hwang Sun Mi was born in the year 1963. Hwang Sun Mi had also won the SBS Children’s Media Award in 2001, the 36th Sejong Literature Award, in the year 2003, The Children’s Literature New Writer Award for her short story Marble, Marble in 1995, and the Nongmin Literary Award with her novella A Flower to Plant in Your Heart. In 1997, she was awarded the 1st Tamra Literary Award in the children’s book category, and in 2003, the Sejung Children’s Literary Award with Capture the Orchard.


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