Carolynne's Reviews > A Single Shard

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
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Oct 26, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: newbery-honors, historical-fiction
Read in October, 2009

Would you be drawn to a book about the making of Celadon pottery? No? Well, how about a book about a poor youngster with no future in 12th century Korea? Still no? I invite you to think again, because that is exactly what this Newbery award winning book is about--but it is so much more than that. It well deserves more attention than it has received (it is #395,836 in Amazon). Tree-Ear (named after a tree fungus that grows without benefit of parents, just like the orphaned boy who bears its name) is cared for by Crane-man, who walks with the aid of a crutch, who must scrounge for their food in garbage heaps--and in this thrifty society of Ch'ulp'o that is incredibly difficult. Tree-Ear finds himself drawn to the work of the master potter Min, whom he surreptitiously watches. He longs to learn how to throw pottery himself, but fears he never will when as Min's assistant he is only assigned menial tasks.
The book deals with so many values: loyalty, persistence and hard work, craftsmanship, harmony between man and nature, generosity and sharing, survival, courtesy, compassion, hospitality, conquering impatience, all in an exquisitely written little (150 pages) book that is above all a compelling story. This quiet story is one of the most deserving selections of the Newbery Committee in the last decade.
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