A long long time ago in a potters’ village in Korea there lived an orphan named Tree-ear. He lived under a bridge with Crain-man, who had taken him in as a toddler. Together they foraged for food, told stories, and kept each other company. Thirteen-year-old Tree-ear loved to watch an older potter at the wheel and to see the pieces he made. One day while examining a ceramic box in the potter’s workshop Tree-ear is startled and drops it. The potter, Min, is furious and begins berating Tree-ear. The piece is very valuable and Tree-ear agrees to work off the debt by working for Min until it is paid off. The work is hard, harder than Tree-ear ever imagined, but it is also satisfying. Tree-ear wants more than anything to learn to use the wheel and create his own pieces. But Min will not teach Tree-ear the craft, as it is passed down from father to son, and Tree-ear is only an orphan. News comes that the royal court is coming to look at the village potters’ pieces and will maybe pick one of the men and put his pieces on commission. Min hopes he is selected, but is another potter working on a new technique? What will become of Tree-ear if Min is selected? Will Tree-ear ever learn to use the wheel?
I didn’t know much about A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. What a treat it turned out to be. I loved the way the story flowed and I felt like I was being told an elaborate bedtime story every time I picked it up. The relationship between Crain-man and Tree-ear was so special that it tugged at my heart. I was impressed by how hard Tree-ear worked and how driven he was to learn the ways of the potter.Tree-ear is very respectful of others and I liked the way he thought of others and their feelings. There are a couple of scenes that broke my heart, but I truly loved the way the story unfolded. I would recommend this book to people in grades 4 and up who like historical fiction and stories with amazing characters. You will be rooting for Tree-ear, just like I did.
Has anyone else read A Single Shard? Or have you read another book by Linda Sue Park? We’d love to hear your thoughts!