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A Single Shard (2001)

by Linda Sue Park

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,9011492,258 (4.06)1 / 80
Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself.
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English (147)  English (Middle) (1)  French (1)  All languages (149)
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
Another newberry winner and justifiably so. I enjoyed the plot and characters and what I learned about ancient Korea and pottery. I was somewhat upset at the ending… will leave it at that as don’t want to do spoiler. ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
This book snuck up on me, the first few pages were not an approachable start, it took a while for me to get some context. After that I was hooked. The characters were living crafted, the environment lovely, the work and toil real, hard, and worth the effort of Tree-ear, the 12 year old at the center of the story. ( )
  mslibrarynerd | Jan 13, 2024 |
READING LEVEL: 6.6 AR POINTS: 6.0
(Ages 10-12, grades 5-7)

What a great way to introduce your child to historical fiction. The base of this little 152 page story regarding the value of the 12th century Korean celadon pottery is true. The artwork on the front cover of the book is a celadon prunus vase, with the inlaid crane, as talked about in the story and is Tree-ear’s, the main character, dream to one day make. The processes used throughout the story to make this pottery is also true. In fact, even with today’s precision in technology, the beautiful colors of the celadon pottery cannot be replicated from that time period. Have your child read the Author’s Note at the back of the book first, which will provide all the facts. This story has a lot of positive lessons on good morals, such as honesty, perseverance and selflessness, and what comes of hard work...lessons many kids definitely need today.

Tree-ear, now about 12 years old, had become an orphan at age 2 when his parents died. Crane-man, an old man now, born with a disabled bad leg and foot, had become an orphan many years earlier when his parents had died. He eventually was forced to sell his home for survival and ended up living under a bridge...not a usual Korean custom as their culture usually takes care of the unfortunates and poor. But, as fate would have it, these two would end up living together under the bridge where Crane-man would teach Tree-ear the value in honesty and hard work.

Tree-ear became fascinated with the making of pottery. He had a habit of spying on one master potter, Min, who was known at the time as one of the world’s best potters, although perhaps the pickiest and slowest because of his perfectionism. One day when Min wasn’t around, Tree-ear was caught inspecting Min’s pieces. Tree-ear was so startled that he dropped a piece and it broke. Min was irate, and believing him to be a robber, proceeded to beat him. Tree-ear offered his services to make up for the broken piece of pottery. He worked off his debt to Min for the following nine days by doing all the grunt work needed in preparing the clay. But, Tree-ear’s dream was to learn to make his own vase one day. It was this dream that kept him working for Min, who was anything but appreciative, for the next one and a half years without pay.

The rewards for Tree-ear’s honesty and perseverance pays off in the end in more ways than one. A very touching story! ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Great little book about a Korean orphan in Middle Ages who became a potter under a master. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Linda Sue Parkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Malcolm, GraemeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
A small village on the west coast of Korea, mid- to late twelfth century.
Dedication
To Dinah, because she asked for another book.
First words
"Eh, Tree-ear!"
Quotations
Work gives a man dignity, stealing takes it away.

...one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.

...he would journey through the years until he came upon the perfect design.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself.

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Book description
Day after day, Tree-ear watches the potter at work, and finds his calling. Unfortunately, Tree-ear is an orphan and only potters' sons may follow into the vocation. However, he becomes the potter's assistant in the hopes that he may learn from the master. Meanwhile, Tree-ear learns a great deal about life from his friend and companion Crane-man, who lives under the bridge with Tree-ear. Tree-ear dutifully serves his master and his friend until disaster falls - the potter does not win the commission from the Emissary, and his beloved friend dies. But through it all, Tree-ear learns about honor, responsibility, dedication, and when the potter and his wife eventually adopt Tree-ear at the end, what it means to be part of a family.

This is a great book for talking about cultures, about how childhood differs through time and cultures, and about the concepts of honor and loyalty.
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