The Old Woman and the Hen

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The Porcupine's Quill, 2009 - Juvenile Fiction - 31 pages

A bedraggled hen is rescued from certain starvation by an old woman. The old woman leads a meagre existence, but willing and generously shares food and water with the hen. The hen, it turns out, is capable of laying crystal eggs which reveal within their shells visions of future disasters. The woman attempts to warn her neighbours of an impending flood, but is ridiculed and mocked by the whole village. The woman faces further threats from a young hoodlum who imagines that the hen might provide him with riches garnered by selling its crystal eggs.

Unwilling to lose the hen -- her only friend -- but also rather unwilling to give up the egg, the old woman again sees another vision in the egg which helps her determine that the best course is to give up the egg.

In spite of her now homeless state, the old woman never loses faith. She believes firmly in the ability of the hen to bring her luck. And indeed the folktale ends with the fulfilment of the old woman's dreams.


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About the author (2009)

P. K. Page 1916-2010 P. K. (Patricia Kathleen) Page was born in Dorset, England on November 23, 1916 and moved to Canada in 1919. She was a founder of the magazine, "Preview" and a scripwriter for the National Film Board. Her work "the Metal and the Flower," won her the Governor General's Award. She has also won the Oscar Blumenthal Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Award, the Canadian Authors' Association Literary Award and the Hubert Evans Prize for "Brazilian Journal." In addition, she was the recipient of the Banff Centre of Fine Arts National Award in 1989 and she is a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets. Although most known for her writing, Page is also an artist. She exhibits her paintings under the name P. K. Irwin (as she is the wife of diplomat Arthur Irwin). Her works are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. She died on January 14, 2010

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