A Single Shard
By: Linda Sue Park
Newbury" Intrigues, danger and the same strong focus on doing what is right turn a simple story into a compelling read. . . Tree-ear's story conveys a time and place far away and long ago, but with a simplicity and immediacy that is both graceful and unpretentious. A timeless jewel."
Summary: A 13 year old boy named Tree-ear is an orphan and lives under a bridge in with Crane-man, a crippled old man. Tree-ear scavenges for food most of the time, but after a full meal, Tree-ear loves to watch the potter, Min, make his pottery. One day, when no one is around, Tree-ear sneaks into Potter Min's house for a closer look at his creations. There are many objects, but one object particularly interests Tree-ear: a rectangular, lidded box. It is undecorated on the outside, but Tree-ear suspects that the inside is more spectacular. Out of curiosity, Tree-ear decides to look inside the box and finds five smaller boxes. They fit perfectly around each other. Min, the potter, shouts when he finds Tree-ear, who drops the box in fright, breaking it. To repay Min, Tree-ear then offers to work for nine days, as the box took three days to make. Min makes Tree-ear collect wood for his nine days of work. Tree-ear is dismayed, for he secretly wants to make a pot. After his work days are completed, Tree-ear offers to work for the potter for free in hope of getting to make his own pot. Tree-ear is assigned various tasks but never has the chance to make his own pot. Tree-ear eventually learns that Min will not teach him how to make a pot, due to the tradition of a potter teaching his son. Min's son is dead. One day, an emissary named Kim arrives to hire a potter for a new commission for the palace. While watching other potters in the village, Tree-ear learns of a newly created decorative technique and must decide if it is ethical to reveal the stolen information to Min. He decides not to, but Min does get a chance to demonstrate that he can use the new inlay technique and sends Tree-ear to the emperor with samples of his best work. On his long journey, Tree Ear passes through the busy town of Puyo. At the rock of falling flowers, the boy is attacked by robbers, and all of the pots are smashed, leaving him with just a single shard to display his master's skill . He continues his journey, confident that the shard demonstrates that his master is worthy of the commission. The emissary's assistant is about to throw Tree-ear out when Kim inspects the shard. Kim sends Tree-ear back via sea. Tree-ear goes to his master to inform him that Kim likes his work. Unfortunately, after sharing the news, Tree-ear learns Crane-man died. Min decides to adopt Tree-ear, and Min's wife changes his name to Hyung-pil. Tree-ear is finally able to learn how to make pottery. Tree-ear loves the fact that he now has a family.
Who would benefit from reading this book? This is such a great historical fiction book that contains many wonderful Korean traditions. The lessons that are taught with in this book are life changing. This is a very inspiring book, and I think all that take the time to read it will benefit from it.
What problems/concerns could this book potentially cause? I don't think that this book contains anything that can be a potential problems.
My reaction: I loved this book. One of my best frends is Korean-American, and I think it helped me gain more respect and understanding for his culture. Once I started reading this book, I could not lay it down. I recommend that everyone one read this book. It is educational and inspiring at the same time.