The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: A Novel

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: A Novel

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by Sun-mi Hwang, Nomoco
     
 

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A Korean Charlotte's Web

More than 2 million copies sold

 

This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command, only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the…  See more details below

Overview

A Korean Charlotte's Web

More than 2 million copies sold

 

This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command, only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild—and to hatch an egg of her own.

An anthem for freedom, individuality and motherhood featuring a plucky, spirited heroine who rebels against the tradition-bound world of the barnyard, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a novel of universal resonance that also opens a window on Korea, where it has captivated millions of readers. And with its array of animal characters—the hen, the duck, the rooster, the dog, the weasel—it calls to mind such classics in English as Animal Farm and Charlotte’s Web.

Featuring specially-commissioned illustrations, this first English-language edition of Sun-mi Hwang’s fable for our times beautifully captures the journey of an unforgettable character in world literature.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/26/2013
The road of life is paved with hardships, even tragedy. Fate is implacable; we all must die. Yet it’s possible to achieve happiness, and to make a positive contribution to humanity, if one perseveres. This is the lesson of this simply told but absorbing fable, a two million–copy bestseller in South Korea, and a story that will appeal to readers of self-help. The protagonist is a philosophically restless hen who yearns to raise a chick, but her eggs are collected daily by the farmer’s wife. The hen encapsulates her longing in the name Sprout, which she gives to herself, signifying the fecundity of nature. Determined “to do something with her life,” Sprout escapes from her cage into the barnyard, but she’s shunned by all its denizens except another outsider like herself, a mallard duck called Straggler. His lifesaving friendship enables Sprout to achieve one of her dreams: she hatches an egg she discovers in a briar patch, at first unaware that her offspring is not a chick, but a duckling. The book explores the joys of parenthood and the sacrifices required to nurture the next generation, the healing bonds of friendship, and the tug-of-war between nature and nurture. Spare but evocative line drawings by the Japanese artist Nomoco add to the subtle charm of this slim volume. B&w illus. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
Los Angeles Times bestseller
New Atlantic Indie bestseller
Mountains and Plains Indie bestseller
Southern California Indie bestseller

“A very special little book. I absolutely loved it, and I find myself still thinking about Sprout. She embodies all the best characteristics of deep-hearted mother-love: loyalty, sacrifice, and courage.” —Lisa See, author of the New York Times bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love,and Shanghai Girls
 
“Sometimes the simplest character, expressed in the sparest prose, embarks upon life’s most heroic journey. Meet Sprout, a plucky hen whose modest dream to hatch a single egg will take her down a path that leads to her true place in the natural world. Heart, determination, and empathy are the only skills Sprout needs to navigate this perilous passage in Sun-mi Hwang’s lovely The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, a novel uniquely poised at the nexus of fable, philosophy, children’s literature, and nature writing.” —Adam Johnson, author of the New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner The Orphan Master’s Son and the National Book Award winner Fortune Smiles
 
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly breaks down the boundaries between the animal and the human and takes us on the intensely personal journey of a lonely hen whose simple, fierce desires guide her to surprising places. This entertaining and plaintive tale is South Korea’s Charlotte’s Web for youth and adults alike.” —Krys Lee, author of Drifting House

“Everything wonderful about the world is contained in this small gem of a novel, which brims with dream-fulfilling adventures and the longing that underlies love.” —Kyung-sook Shin, author of the New York Times bestseller Please Look After Mom

“It has the plain language of a folktale but also its power of dark suggestion.” —NPR.org, “The Best Books Coming Out This Week”

“Bewitching . . . a fabular bestseller told from the point of view of a homeless hen, which will make grown men and women cry.” —The Independent, “Books of the Year”

“A note-perfect masterstroke of a novella . . . that belongs on a bookshelf somewhere between the innocent frivolity of Charlotte’s Web and subliminal politics of Animal Farm . . . Sublime.” —Toronto Star

“Beautifully and simply written . . . Sprout [is] one of the most likable protagonists of the year. With her defiance of the rules, curiosity and tireless efforts, Sprout stays with and inspires the reader long after the slim story is finished.” —Bookreporter

“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.” —BookDragon

“An allegorical crossover hit.” —The Bookseller, “Books of the Year”

“Poignant . . . Themes of love, sacrifice, parenthood and belonging are explored through the simple but moving story.” —Audrey Magazine

“[A] simply told but absorbing fable . . . Spare but evocative line drawings . . . add to the subtle charm.” —Publishers Weekly

“An adroit allegory about life . . . in the vein of classics like Charlotte’s Web and Jonathan Livingston Seagull . . . A subtle morality tale that will appeal to readers of all ages.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Recalling Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), this slim but powerful tale will resonate with readers of all ages, who can take it at face value or delve deeper into its meditations on living courageously and facing mortality. . . . The English translation moves smoothly and straightforwardly and is aided by graceful black-and-white illustrations.” —Booklist

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
Published to great success in Korea, Hwang's short novel is an adroit allegory about life. Sprout's a caged laying hen on a small farm. Sprout yearns for freedom, for a chance to mother one of the eggs taken from her. She has given herself the name Sprout because she "wanted to do something with her life, just like the sprouts on the acacia tree," something she only sees in her rare glimpses of the world outside flourishing in the barnyard. In her discontent, Sprout grows morose, frail, only to find herself culled from the flock and tossed into the "Hole of Death." Sprout, near suffocation, hears a warning from Straggler, a stray mallard duck tagging along with the farm's other ducks. She's in danger of being scavenged by a weasel. That night, Sprout slips into the barn with the other farm animals, but she's shunned. The lonely Sprout decides to follow Straggler and one of the other ducks out beyond the farm. The other duck is killed, but Sprout finds her egg. With brave Straggler standing watch for the deadly weasel, Sprout broods the egg, thinking, "My dreams are coming true." But after the egg hatches, she begins to comprehend that Baby, as she calls him, will grow to become Greentop, a duckling with his own destiny. Hwang has penned an anthropomorphic allegory with allusions to prejudice, to sacrifice and to the recognition of destiny, a fable in the vein of classics like Charlotte's Web and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Hwang's story of Sprout also speaks of family and love, of courage and loss, and of the value of the individual in the face of mindless conformity. Translator Kim does stellar work in rendering the tale into colloquial English, and the narrative is decorated with minimalist pen-and-ink drawings from the Japanese artist Nomoco. A subtle morality tale that will appeal to readers of all ages.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101615966
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/26/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
456,594
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A very special little book. I absolutely loved it, and I find myself still thinking about Sprout. She embodies all the best characteristics of deep-hearted mother-love: loyalty, sacrifice, and courage.” —Lisa See, author of the New York Times bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love,and Shanghai Girls
 
“Sometimes the simplest character, expressed in the sparest prose, embarks upon life’s most heroic journey. Meet Sprout, a plucky hen whose modest dream to hatch a single egg will take her down a path that leads to her true place in the natural world. Heart, determination, and empathy are the only skills Sprout needs to navigate this perilous passage in Sun-mi Hwang’s lovely The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, a novel uniquely poised at the nexus of fable, philosophy, children’s literature, and nature writing.” —Adam Johnson, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestseller The Orphan Master’s Son
 
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly breaks down the boundaries between the animal and the human and takes us on the intensely personal journey of a lonely hen whose simple, fierce desires guide her to surprising places. This entertaining and plaintive tale is South Korea’s Charlotte’s Web for youth and adults alike.” —Krys Lee, author of Drifting House

“Everything wonderful about the world is contained in this small gem of a novel, which brims with dream-fulfilling adventures and the longing that underlies love.” —Kyung-sook Shin, New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mom

“It has the plain language of a folktale but also its power of dark suggestion.” —NPR.org, “The Best Books Coming Out This Week”

“Bewitching . . . a fabular bestseller told from the point of view of a homeless hen, which will make grown men and women cry.”—The Independent, “Books of the Year”

“A note-perfect masterstroke of a novella . . . that belongs on a bookshelf somewhere between the innocent frivolity of Charlotte’s Web and subliminal politics of Animal Farm . . . Sublime.” —Toronto Star

“Beautifully and simply written . . . Sprout [is] one of the most likable protagonists of the year. With her defiance of the rules, curiosity and tireless efforts, Sprout stays with and inspires the reader long after the slim story is finished.” —Bookreporter

“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.” —BookDragon

“An allegorical crossover hit.” —The Bookseller, “Books of the Year”

“Poignant . . . Themes of love, sacrifice, parenthood and belonging are explored through the simple but moving story.” —Audrey Magazine

“[A] simply told but absorbing fable . . . Spare but evocative line drawings . . . add to the subtle charm.” —Publishers Weekly

“An adroit allegory about life . . . in the vein of classics like Charlotte’s Web and Jonathan Livingston Seagull . . . A subtle morality tale that will appeal to readers of all ages.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Recalling Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), this slim but powerful tale will resonate with readers of all ages, who can take it at face value or delve deeper into its meditations on living courageously and facing mortality. . . . The English translation moves smoothly and straightforwardly and is aided by graceful black-and-white illustrations.” —Booklist

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Meet the Author

Sun-mi Hwang is a beloved writer in South Korea, where she has won many awards and published more than forty books enjoyed by adults and children alike. Born in 1963, she was uanble to attend middle school due to poverty, but thanks to a teacher who gave her a key to a classroom, she could go to the school and read books whenever she wanted. She enrolled in high school by taking a certificate examination, and she graduated from the creative writing departments at Seoul Institute of the Arts and Gwangju University, and from the graduate school of Chung-Ang University. She lives in Seoul, South Korea.

Upon its publication in 2000, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly became an instant classic, remaining on bestseller lists for ten years and inspiring the highest-grossing animated film in Korean history. It has also been adapted into a comic book, a play, and a musical, and has been translated into over a dozen languages.
 

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