Tree-ear is an orphan.
In medieval Korea, this leaves him little hope for the future. When
his parents died, he was sent to live with the monks. Instead, he
finds a home under the bridge with Crane-man, a crippled beggar who takes
Tree-ear in. Through the years, Crane-man takes care of Tree-ear
and teaches him what he can. Now 12-years-old, Tree-ear is an experienced
scavenger. He knows all the good places to find food. On his
daily journey, he loves to stop by the home of Min the potter. Min
makes such beautiful pottery. Tree-ear longs to feel the clay and
have the knowledge of the potter. That could never be though.
Or can it?
Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old
orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters’ village with
a crippled friend. Tree-ear breaks some of Min’s pottery. He
works two weeks to work off the debt. Tree-ear continues to work
for Min. He volunteers to take pieces of pottery to Songdo for the
Royal House to examine. He goes to Songdo by himself with the pieces
of pottery all wrapped in a package. Tree-ear meets robbers along
the road who drop all the vases over a cliff. Tree-ear faces the
toughest decision of his young life. Should he go home in shame or
continue on to Songdo to convince the Royal House to buy from Min with
no vases? (Jean Bellavance firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2003)
During the 12th Century in Korea and most of Asia, pottery was highly appreciated
and created. Members of royalty were willing to pay large sums of
money for the fine art. Lucky potters could even receive a commission
from the Emperor himself. This was a very high honor in which many
potters hoped to achieve during their lifetime. Potters by law had
to apprentice their sons into the trade of creating pottery. Unfortunately,
for fathers with no sons and sons with no fathers this art was unlikely.
Our story takes place in this type of world. The main character is
Tree-ear and he has been raised by a surrogate father following the death
of his mother. Crane-man is a cripple who lives in poverty.
He is poor in many ways but rich in love and stories. Tree-ear becomes
fascinated in art upon watching a local potter at work. He becomes
a sort of apprentice to this potter and volunteers to journey by foot with
this potter’s finest work to show the Emperor. The journey is tough,
dangerous and long. Will Tree-ear be up for this adventure?
Will he make it in time to show off the potter’s best work?
Read A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park to find out.
A Single Shard is a winner of the Newbery Medal for the year 2002.
Park carefully researched this novel providing an enlightening look at
life in Korea during this period in time. (Susan Joyner, email@example.com,