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A Single Shard [Paperback]

Linda Sue Park
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 8.99
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Book Description

Jan. 10 2011
In this Newbery Medal-winning book, Tree-ear, an orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters' village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.

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From Publishers Weekly

Park (Seesaw Girl) molds a moving tribute to perseverance and creativity in this finely etched novel set in mid- to late 12th-century Korea. In Ch'ul'po, a potter's village, Crane-man (so called because of one shriveled leg) raises 10-year-old orphan Tree Ear (named for a mushroom that grows "without benefit of "parent-seed"). Though the pair reside under a bridge, surviving on cast-off rubbish and fallen grains of rice, they believe "stealing and begging... made a man no better than a dog." From afar, Tree Ear admires the work of the potters until he accidentally destroys a piece by Min, the most talented of the town's craftsmen, and pays his debt in servitude for nine days. Park convincingly conveys how a community of artists works (chopping wood for a communal kiln, cutting clay to be thrown, etc.) and effectively builds the relationships between characters through their actions (e.g., Tree Ear hides half his lunch each day for Crane-man, and Min's soft-hearted wife surreptitiously fills the bowl). She charts Tree Ear's transformation from apprentice to artist and portrays his selflessness during a pilgrimage to Songdo to show Min's work to the royal court he faithfully continues even after robbers shatter the work and he has only a single shard to show. Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices. Ages 10-14.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Linda Sue Park's 2002 Newbery Award-winning story (Clarion, 2001) about Tree-ear, a 12th century Korean orphan who finds his future through his intuitive interest in the potter's trade, is nicely rendered by Graeme Malcolm. Tree-ear's early years have been spent in the care of the homeless but inventive Crane-man, who has taught him to find a meal among what other villagers have rejected as scrap and shelter beneath a bridge or in an old kimchee cellar, as the season dictates. Now about 12 years old, Tree-ear extends his social and labor habits to an elderly and idiosyncratic potter, first because Tree-ear must repay Min for a pot he damaged when he touched it without permission, and then as Min's helper, a job for which he is paid in food and the motherly affection of Min's wife. In a village renowned for its pottery, those in the trade eagerly anticipate a visit from the representative of the Korean court, each potter hoping that his designs will be selected for royal use. Tree-ear discovers a rival potter's invention of a new surface design technique that he knows Min could use to better effect than does the inventor. Eventually, the technique is revealed and Min is able to adapt it to his excellent work, sending Tree-ear on a long and dangerous journey to court with two sample pieces. By the time Tree-ear arrives, he has but a single shard to show the court's pottery expert. Malcolm's light British accent is clear and adds a sense of "another place, another time" to this tale. However, many of the issues transcend centuries and cultures: What is home? Can one own a creative idea? How much of an art object must be seen in order to judge its quality? This book will engage both individual readers and discussion groups; the audio version makes it accessible to a broader audience, while giving style and substance to those who have read the print version.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical novel April 10 2004
By Amelia
Format:Hardcover
This historical novel about twelfth century Korean potters tells the tale of a young homeless boy named Tree Ear and his friend Crane Man who live together under a bridge. While making restitution for an accident, Tree Ear becomes the assistant of one of the village's most esteemed potters, Min. Tree Ear wants nothing more than to become a potter himself.
When an emissary from the king comes to their village to view the works of the potters, Tree Ear is constantly busy helping Min produce the best pieces possible. The king wishes to see more, so Tree Ear agrees to transport the pieces overland to the king's palace. On his way he is beset by thieves who smash the beautiful vases Tree Ear and Min worked so hard to make.
Tree Ear is heartbroken until he realizes that one shard of a vase, about the size of his palm, is still intact. Although he fears that it is hopeless to do so, he carries the shard with him to the palace because he cannot bear to return and reveal his failure.
Along with Tree Ear, the reader learns about the ancient and fascinating art of pottery. Park tells just enough about the creation of celadon pottery to explain it without overwhelming the reader. Details of Korean life and culture are included where appropriate, but not in a dull manner.
Personally, I liked this novel very much. Tree Ear is a great kid and I couldn't help but care about what happened to him. The story may be a bit too slow moving for some readers - it's not written in the reach-out-and-grab-you style of so much Western fiction. Those readers who are willing to be patient will discover an excellent tale.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Looking for a satisfying read? April 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Looking for a satisfying read?
A Single Shard is a well-written book by Linda Sue Park. The book relates to many middle school students like myself, and has meaningful incidents.
This book had many dry scenes as well as some exciting ones. My most favorite scene (the one I think is the most enthralling) was when Tree Ear (the main character) is trying to deliver pots when he comes upon two robbers. The robbers search him for his money but he has none so they smash his pots instead. Tree Ear is devastated because he has just earned his master's trust. It is very exciting because it seems that the characters are more interested in saving the objects than themselves. I would say this is the most exciting part of the book.
The book showed me a lot of things. It showed me to stick with my creativity. Tree Ear tried to be like his master when he was fine with the way he did things. It also showed me that hard work pays off. That can relate to any kid and school. Hard work equals good grades. This book has some situations that you can relate to.
I thought this book was well written yet rather dry and boring. The story was also a little too slow for me. The book is a good read if you like to read slower moving books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another hit for Park April 13 2004
Format:Paperback
I have read Linda Sue Park's other novel, When My Name Was Keoko, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think she is an excellent author because she really makes the reader feel like they are part of the story. In this nover, Tree-Ear is a young boy who lives under a bridge, colleceting garbage for food. The book opens up with a story of Tree-Ear collectiong grains of rice from the dirt that have been dropped by a passoing farmer. Even though Tree-Ear lives a life of poverty, throughout the novel he continues to aspire for something greater. In the nearby village, there is a potter named Min, whom Tree-Ear idolizes. He spends his extra time watching Min. After breaking a pot, Min reluctantly allows the boy to help out around the shop to pay the debt. Tree-Ear is awarded the task of bringing two delicate pots to royalty, but the plan goes awry, and the potas are destroyed. All he has left is a single piece of the once-beautiful pots to show the royals. Like Linda Sue Park's other novel, A Single Shard doesn't fail to be entertaining yet historical. I really enjoyed the story. I feel as though I am no longer ignorant to the Korean culture and history after reading these two novels and seeing all that the nation has suffered through and all they have to be proud of. I am fascinated with Korean culture after reading these two great novels by Parlk. I recommend them both highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet. March 25 2004
By tvtv3
Format:Hardcover
A SINGLE SHARD tells about a young orphan boy named Tree-ear who lives under a bridge with an old man called Crane-man in late 12th century Korea. Tree-ear was brought to Crane-man by the monks at the temple several years ago. Perhaps they felt that the child would help the crippled man in his old age. Whatever the case, the two have lived together for ten years, living off of scraps from rubbish piles and fallen rice. One of Tree-ear's favorite activities is to secretly watch the master potter, Min, create works of art. Eventually, Tree-ear becomes Min's apprentice and sets forth on a journey that changes their lives forever.
A SINGLE SHARD is a wonderful book. It is full of messages about honestly, heroism, and honor. It also illustrates the difficulties an artist has in being an artist and remaining true to the creativity within. Because it takes place in a different country (Korea) and at a different time (1300's), the novel is a great book to read as part of an interdisciplinary unit or just to learn some interesting information about the history of Korea. The story is told in a very easy-to-read style, yet the simplest words are often filled with depth. This is a wonderful book and won the 2002 Newbery Medal. After reading it, it's not difficult to see why.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant But Not Much for a Newbery Winner
An orphan boy in 12th century Korea lives under the bridge with a crippled man. He is fascinated with the pottery made by the craftsman in the nearby pottery village. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2007 by Nicola Mansfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Review from a sixth grader
I started reading this book for a book project in language arts. I thought it was kind of boring at first, but as I kept on reading, it got more and more interesting. Read more
Published on March 3 2007 by Kris Finkenbinder
4.0 out of 5 stars RICH IN HISTORICAL DETAIL
His name, Tree-ear, was given to him because it was the name of a mushroom that grew without a parent seed. Read more
Published on March 8 2004 by Gail Cooke
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Assignment
Hi, I'm thirteen years old, and I read this book assigned to me by my teacher (required for eighth grade students in my school). Read more
Published on March 6 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazed
I won this book in a competition at my school. Usually they give books to the winners that are boring and educational books. But, wow, I was blown away by A Single Shard. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Nathan
5.0 out of 5 stars deserved to win the newbery medal
at first i was suspicious that this book won the newbery medal just to be politically correct, but it turned out to be very well-written and in the end quite moving. Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by spacedog
4.0 out of 5 stars solid, if not terribly suspenseful
This Newberry winner is set in 11th century Korea and is about a young orphan pottery apprentice called Tree-ear. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003 by H.S. Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Mom loved it!
My son brought this book home, assigned to him for a book report. In helping him read (it has a new and challenging vocabularly for a 9 year old! Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A Single Shard
The book I am reviewing is called A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. It's about an orphan boy raised by a beggar named Crane Man under a bridge on the west coast of Korea. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2003
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