Cover image for A single shard
Title:
A single shard
Author:
Park, Linda Sue.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dell Yearling, 2003.

©2001
Physical Description:
152 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
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.
General Note:
"A Dell Yearling book."
Language:
English
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.6 6.0 49768.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.8 10 Quiz: 28635 Guided reading level: U.
ISBN:
9780440418511
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters&' village. When he accidentally breaks a pot, he must work for the master to pay for the damage by setting off on a difficult and dangerous journey that will change his life forever.


Author Notes

Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960. She received a B.A. in English from Stanford University. After graduating, she worked as a public-relations writer for a major oil company for two years. She obtained advanced degrees in literature from Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland and from the University of London. Before becoming a full-time author, she held numerous jobs including working for an advertising agency, teaching English as a second language to college students, and working as a food journalist. Her first book, Seesaw Girl, was published in 1999. Her other books include The Kite Fighters, Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems), and A Single Shard, which won the 2002 Newbery Medal. She also wrote Storm Warning, which is the ninth book in the 39 Clues series. Her title A Long Walk to Water made the New York Times bestseller list.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. When the polite greeting in a society is "Have you eaten well today?' one may guess that subsistence is of prime concern. Surely no one in this twelfth-century Korean village is more accustomed to hunger than the orphan boy Tree-ear and his guardian Crane-man who is lame. They sleep under a bridge in summer and in a pit in winter, eating what they can forage in the woods or garbage piles. At the age of 12, Tree-ear becomes an assistant to the potter Min. A hard taskmaster to himself and the boy, Min is the maker of the finest celadon ware in Ch'ul'po, a village known for its pottery. When Min entrusts two precious pots to Tree-ear to deliver to Songdo, the boy must make his way across miles of unknown territory, relying on his courage and wits to prove himself worthy of Min's trust. This quiet, but involving, story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. --Carolyn Phelan


Publisher's Weekly Review

British actor Malcolm initially seems an odd choice of narrator for Park's novel set in 12th-century Korea, but he proves to be a compelling performer on this adaptation of the book that was recently named winner of this year's Newbery Medal. Tree-ear, a 12-year-old orphan, spends most of his time rummaging in trash heaps for food for himself and his friend and protector, the crippled Crane-man. But Tree-ear longs for much more; he wants to become skilled like the potters of his village, Ch'ulp'o, famous for its prized celadon ceramic ware. Tree-ear begins his path by accident, watching master potter Min in secret. Before long, Min grudgingly takes Tree-ear on as an assistant, having the boy fetch wood and do other menial tasks. Eventually Min entrusts Tree-ear with a most important job: delivering two specially crafted vases to the palace in hopes of securing a royal commission for Min's fine pottery work. The vases meet with disaster on Tree-ear's journey, but he persists on his mission, with only a single shard to show the royal emissary. Though Malcolm's performance slows a bit when reading passages describing the routines of the potters and Tree-ear's travels to the palace, listeners will likely be hooked by Tree-ear's perseverance and fascinated by a look into this craftsmen's colony from Korean history. Ages 10-14. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-In this tale of courage and devotion, a single shard from a celadon vase changes the life of a young boy and his master. In 12th-century Korea, the village of Ch'ulp'o is famous for its pottery. The orphan Tree-ear spends his days foraging for food for himself and Crane-man, a lame straw weaver who has cared for him for many years. Because of his wanderings, Tree-ear is familiar with all of the potters in the village, but he is especially drawn to Min. When he drops a piece Min has made, Tree-ear begins to work for him to pay off his debt, but stays on after the debt is paid because he longs to learn to create beautiful pots himself. Sent to the royal court to show the king's emissary some new pottery, Tree-ear makes a long journey filled with disaster and learns what it means to have true courage. This quiet story is rich in the details of life in Korea during this period. In addition it gives a full picture of the painstaking process needed to produce celadon pottery. However, what truly stands out are the characters: the grumpy perfectionist, Min; his kind wife; wise Crane-man; and most of all, Tree-ear, whose determination and lively intelligence result in good fortune. Like Park's Seesaw Girl (1999) and The Kite Fighters (2000, both Clarion), this book not only gives readers insight into an unfamiliar time and place, but it is also a great story.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 "Eh, Tree-ear! Have you hungered well today?" Crane-man called out as Tree-ear drew near the bridge. The well-fed of the village greeted each other politely by saying, "Have you eaten well today?" Tree-ear and his friend turned the greeting inside out for their own little joke. Tree-ear squeezed the bulging pouch that he wore at his waist. He had meant to hold back the good news, but the excitement spilled out of him. "Crane-man! A good thing that you greeted me so just now, for later today we will have to use the proper words!" He held the bag high. Tree-ear was delighted when Crane-man's eyes widened in surprise. He knew that Crane-man would guess at once--only one thing could give a bag that kind of smooth fullness. Not carrot-tops or chicken bones, which protruded in odd lumps. No, the bag was filled with rice. Crane-man raised his walking crutch in a salute. "Come, my young friend! Tell me how you came by such a fortune--a tale worth hearing, no doubt!" Tree-ear had been trotting along the road on his early-morning perusal of the village rubbish heaps. Ahead of him a man carried a heavy load on a jiggeh, an open-framed backpack made of branches. On the jiggeh was a large woven-straw container, the kind commonly used to carry rice. Tree-ear knew that the rice must be from last year's crop; in the fields surrounding the village this season's rice had only just begun to grow. It would be many months before the rice was harvested and the poor allowed to glean the fallen grain from the bare fields. Only then would they taste the pure flavor of rice and feel its solid goodness in their bellies. Just looking at the straw box made water rush into Tree-ear's mouth. The man had paused in the road and hoisted the wooden jiggeh higher on his back, shifting the cumbersome weight. As Tree-ear stared, rice began to trickle out of a hole in the straw box. The trickle thickened and became a stream. Oblivious, the man continued on his way. For a few short moments Tree-ear's thoughts wrestled with one another. Tell him--quickly! Before he loses too much rice! No! Don't say anything--you will be able to pick up the fallen rice after he rounds the bend. . . . Tree-ear made his decision. He waited until the man had reached the bend in the road, then ran to catch him. "Honorable sir," Tree-ear said, panting and bowing. "As I walked behind you, I noticed that you are marking your path with rice!" The farmer turned and saw the trail of rice. A well-built man with a broad suntanned face, he pushed his straw hat back, scratched his head, and laughed ruefully. "Impatience," said the farmer. "I should have had this container woven with a double wall. But it would have taken more time. Now I pay for not waiting a bit longer." He struggled out of the jiggeh's straps and inspected the container. He prodded the straw to close the gap but to no avail, so he threw his arms up in mock despair. Tree-ear grinned. He liked the farmer's easygoing nature. "Fetch me a few leaves, boy," said the farmer. Tree-ear complied, and the man stuffed them into the container as a temporary patch. The farmer squatted to don the jiggeh. As he started walking, he called over his shoulder. "Good deserves good, urchin. The rice on the ground is yours if you can be troubled to gather it." "Many thanks, kind sir!" Tree-ear bowed, very pleased with himself. He had made a lucky guess, and his waist pouch would soon be filled with rice. Tree-ear had learned from Crane-man's example. Foraging in the woods and rubbish heaps, gathering fallen grain-heads in the autumn--these were honorable ways to garner a meal, requiring time and work. But stealing and begging, Crane-man said, made a man no better than a dog. "Work gives a man dignity, stealing takes it away," he often said. Following Crane-man's advice was not always easy for Tree-ear. Today, for example. Was it stealing, to wait as Tree-ear had for more rice to fall before alerting the man that his rice bag was leaking? Did a good deed balance a bad one? Tree-ear often pondered these kinds of questions, alone or in discussion with Crane-man. "Such questions serve in two ways," Crane-man had explained. "They keep a man's mind sharp--and his thoughts off his empty stomach." Now, as always, he seemed to know Tree-ear's thoughts without hearing them spoken. "Tell me about this farmer," he said. "What kind of man was he?" Tree-ear considered the question for several moments, stirring his memory. At last, he answered, "One who lacks patience--he said it himself. He had not wanted to wait for a sturdier container to be built. And he could not be bothered to pick up the fallen rice." Tree-ear paused. "But he laughed easily, even at himself." "If he were here now, and heard you tell of waiting a little longer before speaking, what do you think he would say or do?" "He would laugh," Tree-ear said, surprising himself with the speed of his response. Then, more slowly, "I think . . . he would not have minded." Crane-man nodded, satisfied. And Tree-ear thought of something his friend often said: Scholars read the great words of the world. But you and I must learn to read the world itself. Tree-ear was so called after the mushroom that grew in wrinkled half-circles on dead or fallen tree trunks, emerging from the rotten wood without benefit of parent seed. A good name for an orphan, Crane-man said. If ever Tree-ear had had another name, he no longer remembered it, nor the family that might have named him so. Tree-ear shared the space under the bridge with Crane-man--or rather, Crane-man shared it with him. After all, Crane-man had been there first, and would not be leaving anytime soon. The shriveled and twisted calf and foot he had been born with made sure of that. Tree-ear knew the story of his friend's name. "When they saw my leg at birth, it was thought I would not survive," Crane-man had said. "Then, as I went through life on one leg, it was said that I was like a crane. But besides standing on one leg, cranes are also a symbol of long life." True enough, Crane-man added. He had outlived all his family and, unable to work, had been forced to sell his possessions one by one, including, at last, the roof over his head. Thus it was that he had come to live under the bridge. Once, a year or so earlier, Tree-ear had asked him how long he had lived there. Crane-man shook his head; he no longer remembered. But then he brightened and hobbled over to one side of the bridge, beckoning Tree-ear to join him. "I do not remember how long I have been here," he said, "but I know how long you have." And he pointed upward, to the underside of the bridge. "I wonder that I have not shown you this before." On one of the slats was a series of deep scratches, as if made with a pointed stone. Tree-ear examined them, then shook his head at Crane-man. "So?" "One mark for each spring since you came here," Crane-man explained. "I kept count of your years, for I thought the time would come when you would like to know how old you are." Tree-ear looked again, this time with keen interest. There was a mark for each finger of both hands--ten marks in all. Crane-man answered before Tree-ear asked. "No, you have more than ten years," he said. "When you first came and I began making those marks, you were in perhaps your second year--already on two legs and able to talk." Excerpted from A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.