A Single Shard Paperback – Jan 1 2011
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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 the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In this tale of courage and devotion, a single shard from a celadon vase changes the life of a young boy and his master. In 12th-century Korea, the village of Ch'ulp'o is famous for its pottery. The orphan Tree-ear spends his days foraging for food for himself and Crane-man, a lame straw weaver who has cared for him for many years. Because of his wanderings, Tree-ear is familiar with all of the potters in the village, but he is especially drawn to Min. When he drops a piece Min has made, Tree-ear begins to work for him to pay off his debt, but stays on after the debt is paid because he longs to learn to create beautiful pots himself. Sent to the royal court to show the king's emissary some new pottery, Tree-ear makes a long journey filled with disaster and learns what it means to have true courage. This quiet story is rich in the details of life in Korea during this period. In addition it gives a full picture of the painstaking process needed to produce celadon pottery. However, what truly stands out are the characters: the grumpy perfectionist, Min; his kind wife; wise Crane-man; and most of all, Tree-ear, whose determination and lively intelligence result in good fortune. Like Park's Seesaw Girl (1999) and The Kite Fighters (2000, both Clarion), this book not only gives readers insight into an unfamiliar time and place, but it is also a great story.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Oct. 18 2007 by Nicola Mansfield
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 morePublished on March 3 2007 by Kris Finkenbinder
His name, Tree-ear, was given to him because it was the name of a mushroom that grew without a parent seed. Read morePublished on March 8 2004 by Gail Cooke
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 morePublished on March 6 2004
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 morePublished on Feb. 18 2004 by Nathan
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 morePublished on Feb. 3 2004 by spacedog
This Newberry winner is set in 11th century Korea and is about a young orphan pottery apprentice called Tree-ear. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2003 by H. Cross
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