Reading: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, Sun-mi Hwang

by zee

Hi there! I am also blogging at Two Weeks A Book (2W1B), a joined blog with my book-hoarder friend to clear off our reading list! After we finish our books, we will do a write-up in the blog, be it a review, reflection, discussion etc.
I will be posting my writings to this blog as well!

I got attracted to this book because of the clean and cute, minimalistic design of the cover; as well as the presence of an animal – a flying chicken, really? – on its title. Based on the first page, I thought it would be quite a humorous read.
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly (Goodreads page) started off with a hen named Sprout, trapped in a coup laying eggs for farmers, dreaming of freedom outside the coup, of hatching her own egg and taking care of her own chicks. With naive, half-baked plans and strong determination, she freed herself from the barn system – but realised the outside world wasn’t as rosy as it seemed.
Out there, she met little friends but many foes; she witnessed life and death in front of her eyes; she gave out love as generously as she possibly could. All in all, she lived graciously and elegantly.
Do not dismiss this animal fable as another children’s literature. It is as realistic and metaphorical as it gets. Despite the simple storyline, The Hen in essence is not as simple as the traditional fairy tales. It makes you ponder on life, family, morality and mother nature itself. Finishing the book left the same empty feeling I get whenever I finished a good book – so many lessons learned, so many unanswered questions left for me to contemplate.
Hwang describes well, and her language (after translation, at least) was not complicated. The many animal characters (minor & major) in the book – reminiscence of Animal Farm and Charlotte’s Web – are as human as they can get. Nomoco’s illustrations (including the cover) are raw and somehow reminded me of white, wintry North Korea. Don’t know why.
My personal taste tells me the story ended somewhat cliche and emotional, it is, nevertheless, a good way to end. When/if I have children, I will read them this story. They need to know the world is not only about happy endings.
This book is so good I will not sell it away!
Author: Sun-mi Hwang
Translator: Chi-young Kim
Illustrator: Nomoco