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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.
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 Editorial Reviews
A shard is a broken piece of pottery, and the boy and his mentor are broken shards of people. However, both of them retain enough of the design to continue their lives. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Cliff
Exactly as expected. Product description was spot on and the product functioned as well as it should have. I would not hesitate to buy again.Published 25 days ago by MCJ
We really enjoyed A Single Shard when we read it the past two weeks. I first read it aloud a few years ago, and remember liking it then. It was even better this time! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Emma
If I could I would give this book 10 stars. It's historical, informative and interesting plus it's a good story with vivid imagery.Published 1 month ago by Joy
This should be mandatory reading for grades 5-8 and for every adult that wants a beautifully written novel that epitomizes excellent contemporary literature.Published 1 month ago by TheFamily
I think this book was a great book. One reason I thought this book was a wonderful book is because it explained everything with very good details. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Cas52
This is a wonderful story about a young orphan who follows his dream to apprentice with the town's master potter, and how persevering, even though it looks like he won't achieve... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Victory Girl
One of the best middle school books I have ever read!!! It was a required reading for a student I was tutoring, and I had to buy the book to help her understand it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by K.P.