01 Jan / The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang, translated by Chi-Young Kim, illustrated by Nomoco
This new year couldn’t start off with a better title. At a mere 134 pages, it’s perfect to read in a single sitting, although the story’s loving spirit is sure to linger. It’s also the ideal gift to share with anyone and everyone who holds a place in your heart.
“Sprout was the best name in the world. A sprout grew into a leaf and embraced the wind and the sun before falling and rotting and turning into mulch for bringing fragrant flowers into bloom. Sprout wanted to do something with her life, just like the sprouts on the acacia tree. That was why she’d named herself after them.”
Confined to a tiny space all her life, Sprout simply decides one day she will not lay another egg. She is soon culled from her coop, but survives the “Hole of Death,” even escaping the murderous weasel with the help of her duck friend Straggler, another less-than-accepted animal in the farmyard. In spite of her initial fear and worry, Sprout is newly empowered on her own. Out in the”vast fields” in which she can roam free, “Sprout stood tall and proud, clucking joyfully.” And then her wildest dream comes true when she finds another animal’s still-warm egg, protects and nurtures it, until Baby arrives to make her world wondrous and tragic, joyful and wrenching, and everything in between.
An international bestseller with over two million copies sold around the globe, Hen arrives Stateside more than a decade after its native South Korean publication. The author of over 40 Korean titles, Sun-mi Hwang makes her English debut via Chi-Young Kim, who has quickly become the lauded, in-demand, Korean-to-English translator since her rendition of Kyung-sook Shin’s 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize-winning Please Look After Mom. London-based Japanese designer Nomoco adds just enough haunting whimsy with black-and-while line drawings that introduce each chapter.
In straight-forward, simple sentences, Hwang manages to create a multi-layered tale of the most improbable connections that make up a family – and the surrounding community. Powered by the deepest emotions, strengthened by immeasurable bonds, Sprout proves to be a conduit for every kind of love … for her child, for her friend, and even her fiercest enemy.
As we ready ourselves for the many challenges we’re certain to face in the new year, may Sprout be our beacon for enduring inspiration and unconditional love for us all.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2000, 2013 (United States)