A subtle morality tale that will appeal to readers of all ages.

THE HEN WHO DREAMED SHE COULD FLY

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.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-14-312320-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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