The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang

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This story tells about Sprout, the bravest hen you will ever know. All her life she has been living in a coop. Every time Sprout lays an egg, the farmer collects and sells it for profit. She never got to take care of it till it grows into a chick. Sometimes she would catch glimpses of the barn – where the animals were able to roam freely and live as they want – and wishes she was there instead.

One day, she managed to escape her coop. Next thing she knew, she found herself in the barn. She got close to Straggler, a mallard duck, and Sprout’s dream of taking care of an egg came true thanks to her. What she did not know was that a cruel and dangerous world exists out there. The weasel was about to become her biggest enemy, threatening to kill her and her baby, as Sprout’s quest for survival begins.

We can’t help but to be reminded of Animal Farm and Charlotte’s Web – classic children’s fables – thanks to the believable lot of animal characters (hen, duck, dog, rooster, and weasel) in this book. Themes like family, dreams, unconditional love, and finding oneself, are central in this story. Sprout embodies the qualities of a mother’s love and the sacrifices she makes for her child.

The expression “the grass is always greener on the other side” also rings true in this story, where Sprout thought that the world outside is much better than the world she is in. There are bound to be dangers and uncertainties. We just don’t know it. Like Sprout, we naively think that somewhere out there is able to offer us better opportunities or a better life than the one we are currently living. We learn to appreciate the life we have even more, and stop thinking that other people are living a better life than we do. The lens we are looking through only lets us see half of how things really are.

This is one of the rare, pleasant finds I’ve chanced upon in the bookstore. Put this book under your read list now. Everyone’s got some time for a page-turning and poignant story about a hen’s love for her baby. The evocative narrative and spare prose makes it a smooth read, and the vibrant bunch of animal characters just seals the deal – making this one of the best contemporary to-read classics for all ages.

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