Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Review: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

I picked up this Newbery Award winner at a Border's Going out of Business sale for my BF's tutoree. I wasn't 100% sure he'd like a book set in Korea and written by a woman, but my BF thought it sounded interesting and of the stack of books, it was the one he wanted to read first! As he read it, he told me bits about what was going on, he was upset when something bad happened, and at the end, he actually teared up. I already was planning to read it but that made it definite!

Tree-Ear is an orphan living with Crane-Man under a bridge. He is fascinated by the pottery made by Min. Min is actually the only potter he can watch because Min is the only potter so secure and certain about his skills that he will throw pots outside. After accidentally breaking one of Min's pots, Tree-Ear works for him for two weeks to pay off the damage. He learns to chop wood and stack it neatly and carry it back to the kiln without it falling over. And when that's over, he asks to continue to work, to learn from Min, and now he learns to gather clay and to rinse it until it is perfect. One day, an emissary from the Palace comes to the village to see the potters' wares, and decide if any is worthy of a royal commission.

I don't want to tell too much more, but it's a great book. I wasn't surprised when I read in the author's note that she was partly inspired by her son's request that he write a book like Gary Paulsen's Hatchet. Although it's ironic that by choosing this book I had thought I was picking something very different from Hatchet, but it reassures me that the tutoree is all the more likely to like it.

Tree-Ear is hardworking, eager to please, and just wants to find a place in the world. Crane-man has been a wonderful mentor to him over the years. He is perhaps not able to provide him food, but he feeds Tree-Ear's mind. Min is stubborn and set in his ways, but Tree-Ear wins him over, and he shows him the patience and high standards that make him the best potter in the village, and perhaps in all of Korea. It was refreshing to read about such a different time and place, and I enjoyed it immensely.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.


Julie P. said...

Great review. You sold it to me. I wasn't even familiar with it prior to reading your review.

bermudaonion said...

I wonder why I've never heard of this Newbery winner! It sounds fabulous - I love books set in Asia.