(Buy it HERE.)
“The important thing is to understand each other. That’s love!”
This book follows Sprout, a pathetic old laying hen with a big heart and a dream. She survives a terrifying coop cull and embarks on a new life in the fields as a free hen. Her lowly circumstances don’t keep her from fighting to reach rather lofty goals–more than anything, she wants to be a mother. She wants to hatch an egg, safely raise her baby, and then fly away. Does she do it? Well, yeah–but not in any way you’d expect.
I read a whopping 11 books in February (not normal! Blame coronavirus and bad weather). I have to admit, ending the month with this was kind of a downer. It’s so sad, even in its most hopeful moments. There’s a harshness to the lives of Sprout and her animal friends that really puts the reader on emotional edge–some bits of this book make Watership Down look like Pororo.
But ultimately, the story is very good, and comes to a sad and beautiful conclusion. I never knew a sickly little hen could keep me so near tears! Out of all the lives we get to live through the magic of the printed word, perhaps Sprout’s is one of the most unlikely and affecting. I won’t forget her or her huge and motherly heart in a hurry.
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is translated from the original Korean by Chi-Young Kim, and I have to be honest, it’s not an amazing translation. It gets us from point A to point B, and when it’s good, it’s very good. Unfortunately there are a few points where odd vocabulary choices take us out of the story– for example, when Sprout compares a ducklings’ and a chick’s “fur”–isn’t the fuzz on baby birds called down? There’s a few moments like that, and I’m not sure why it wasn’t caught in editing.
One more thing–this is a book you’ll want to own a physical copy of, if you decide to own it. The paperback edition is really beautifully made, with gorgeous minimalist illustrations by Japanese artist Nomoco and deckled edges. It’ll look lovely on your bookshelf and would make a nice gift.
4 out of 5 stars to Sprout the hen and her passionate little life.
(Thanks for reading, fellow readers! Quick reminder that this blog is a Bookshop affiliate and if you click and purchase anything from a link, commission will be paid. Peace!)