Laurel Decher's Reviews > A Single Shard

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, middle-grade

I'm not sure what took me so long to start this book. Maybe the main character being named after a mushroom--Tree-Ear--made me hesitate? If this slowed you down, go ahead and give it another try. After a very few pages, I was totally immersed.

This is the story of an orphan, Tree-Ear, who loves to watch a master potter in the village "throw" pots. But there's a catch. Only sons of potters can become potters.

His apprenticeship has much in common with the beloved movie, THE KARATE KID. Tree-Ear carts endless cartloads of wood and clay that all have to be cut and transported by hand. The only thing that keeps him at his thankless tasks is the kindness of the potter's wife, who always re-fills his hidden supper bowl. There's always enough for him and for Crane-Man, the man who's cared for him all these years.

When Tree-ear finally gets a chance to repay the potter's wife, his determination and spirit earn him what he's never dared to hope for.

It's a rich, dream-like world full of the landscape of 11th century Korea. Ch'ulp'o village is famous for celadon pots, a gray-green glaze that even masters find difficult to achieve. Unusual mythology around foxes, colorful characters, and a strong story make this a rich and enjoyable book.

Tree-Ear is an endearing and believeable character. He's got dignity even though he's a poor orphan. He uses strategy to honor his friends and his master, even when that means a long, hazardous journey. His friends' wisdom gives him the courage to go on when it seems too late to try.

A SINGLE SHARD is written all of a piece. It's all beautiful and clear. It's not a one-lined zinger sort of book. It's a book of clear images: a bridge, the vases, a boy hiding to see a master at work, and many more.

Here's one favorite quote:
"Foraging in the woods and rubbish heaps, gathering grain-heads in the autumn--these were honorable ways to garner a meal, requiring time and work. But stealing and begging, Crane man said, made a man no better than a dog."

"Work gives a man dignity, stealing takes it away," he often said.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 22, 2017 – Finished Reading
December 8, 2017 – Shelved
December 8, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
December 8, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
December 8, 2017 – Shelved as: middle-grade

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