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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
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****Hanne's Quest

by Olivier Dunrea

Reviewed June 30, 2006.
Philomel Books, New York, 2006.  95 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF DUN).

This book is in an unusual format, so I hope it finds its audience.  It’s the size of a picture book, but it’s definitely a chapter book, and not an easy-to-read.  There are beautiful full-page pictures, but only one for each of the nine chapters, with one highlight of that chapter’s painting at the beginning of the chapter.

I’d call this an original fairy tale, with a young hen (Hanne) as the indomitable hero on a quest.

Mem Pockets, the good-natured owner of a small farm, has a dog and a flock of speckled hens.  “She loved her speckled hens with all her heart.”

One day, Mem Pockets learns that her back taxes must be paid, or she will lose her farm.  She is distressed and sad, because she doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know what will become of her dear hens, who lay the most beautiful eggs in the islands.

The hens decide they must do something to help Mem Pockets.  Only one hen, Old Pegotty, the oldest and wisest hen in the flock, knows of something they can do.  Her great-great-great-great-grandmother Hembry Myn told her the secret that only a handful of Scaldy hens know.

Long, long ago, the Dragons possessed great magic and gave the hens one Great Mystery—the Secret of Laying Golden Eggs.  However, only a hen hatched during the darkest phase of the moon can be chosen to lay the golden eggs, and she must prove her worthiness and pass three trials.  Then she can lay three golden eggs, which would be enough to save the farm.

The only hen hatched during the New Moon is Hanne, the youngest hen, who hasn’t even laid one egg in her life yet.  So Hanne is taught an ancient rhyme giving her directions and sets off to help Mem Pockets save her farm.

This story is charming, adventurous, and completely heart-warming.  I was absolutely captivated.  A wonderful story about someone small accomplishing big things.

Review of another book by Olivier Dunrea:
Gossie and Gertie

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.
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