Monday, August 29, 2011

#88 - A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

2002 Medal Winner

This book takes place in 12th century Korea. Tree-Ear is an orphan living in a potter's village with Crane Man, who took him under his wing as a young boy. Tree-Ear is very interested in how pottery is made, and one day while spying on a potter named Min, Tree-Ear accidentally breaks some of Min's pottery. He offers to work off his debt, and Min accepts. After the agreed upon 9 days of work, Tree-Ear begs Min to allow him to keep working for him, hoping that he can possibly learn the trade. Min does allow him to work, without pay, but to Tree-Ear's great disappointment, does not seem interested in teaching him how to throw a pot.

In the meantime, Tree-Ear and Min's wife, develop a bond - much like mother and son. She even asks him to call her "Ajima" which is similar to "auntie". She takes care of the poor boy, making sure he is well fed and clothed, and even taking care of Crane Man.

One day the royal emissary comes to the village looking for a potter to hire on commission - this is the dream of all potters in the village. The emissary is interested in Min's work, but Min is not willing to travel to the palace many towns over to bring his work. But Tree Ear offers to take it for him. It is a long, dangerous journey, and on the way there - the pottery, which took months of hard, detailed work, is destroyed by robbers. Will Tree-Ear return to Min with shame? All he has is one single shard of the work of Min. Will this be enough for the emissary?

As I've mentioned before, I have a hard time with literature that takes place in this time period. It's just hard for me to get into. And I'll admit, I had to alternate between this book, and a "nonNewbery" to get through it. But, overall, the writing was well done, and it did have a good story to it. I loved the relationships between Tree Ear and Ajima, and between Tree Ear and Crane Man. And the ending was very satisfying.

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