Book Review: A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park

single_shard“He would make replicas, dozens if needed, until the glaze was like jade and water. And the vase would be carefully inlaided, with a design of-of…” – An excerpt from A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard is the story of an orphan, Tree-ear, in a potter’s village in Korea during the twelfth century. It was written by Linda Sue Park, who weaves a artful story of the orphan’s life and pottery.This is a fantastic book that won the 2002 Newbery Award.

Tree-ear is a 12-year-old boy who lives with a crippled man named Crane-man. They live together under a bridge in the small Korean potter’s village of Ch’ulp’o. They both scavenge and hunt for food to live. Living in such a town, Tree-ear naturally becomes attracted to the art of making pottery. Ch’ulp’o was one of many villages that were known for a be able to create beautiful pots of a rare celadon green color. Tree-ear likes especially to watch a potter named Min. Min is known to create some of the best pieces in the village, but is incredibly slow. Tree-ear by accident damages one of Min’s pieces and does work for Min to repay for the lost time. This eventually become a sort of apprenticeship. Even so, Tree-ear has to deal with Min dissatisfaction and refusals to teach him to shape a pot.   When the news of a royal commission reaches Ch’ulp’o, Tree-ears hopes to finally gain Min approval and respect. 

A Single Shard is a incredible book. This has been a favorite of mine ever since I read it several years ago– a tale that good for any age. This is a historical fiction that shows a peek into the history, art, and culture of ancient Korea. This story is also about the importance of family, and how it can change a person in both a good and bad way. Not much action or adventure, but a great book to read as a family. Read it for yourself and decide.

– Sarah J., 8th grade

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