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A Single Shard
A Single Shard
Author: Linda Sue Park
Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters' village. For a long time he is content living with Crane-man under a bridge barely surviving on scraps of food. All that changes when he sees master potter Min making his beautiful pottery. Tree-ear sneaks back to Min's workplace and dreams of creating his own pots someday. When...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780440418511
ISBN-10: 0440418518
Publication Date: 2/11/2003
Pages: 192
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 77 ratings
Publisher: Yearling
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review
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Top Member Book Reviews

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
reviewed A Single Shard on + 13 more book reviews
3 member(s) found this review helpful.
This was a very good book, I would say that it is for ages 10 to 14. It is a pretty easy read, but very good!
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
reviewed A Single Shard on + 774 more book reviews
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
I picked this up because it was a Newbery award winner, and because I'd rather enjoyed another book by Park, "When my Name was Keoko," which deals with more modern Korean history. This story is also set in Korea, but in the 12th century. It tells of an orphan boy, Tree-Ear, who gradually becomes assistant to a talented potter, and finds himself going on a journey to try to win the potter an Imperial commission. The characters are sensitively drawn and believable, and the small dramas of the tale momentous in feeling. Plus, the reader gets to learn a little bit about Korean pottery, which is very interesting!
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
reviewed A Single Shard on
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
This was a great book. I can see why it won the Newbery award. I am an adult who is reading these books to catch up on all the good literature I missed as a young adult. This book would be good for both readers.

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  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
reviewed A Single Shard on + 20 more book reviews
Loved this book. The characters are so real and you get to care about them. It shows that it's not what happens to you that matters at the end, but how you choose to react to what happens to you.

I recommend this excellent book.
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
reviewed A Single Shard on + 157 more book reviews
This is a Newbery Award-winning children's novel about a 12th-century Korean potter's village, through the eyes of a homeless orphan who works for a talented potter, and by the end of the story becomes his apprentice. I'm not sure it's really worthy of the highest U.S. literary award for a children's book, but it is well written and presents a story set in a time and place that has seldom been written about.
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
reviewed A Single Shard on + 19 more book reviews
"It's not my fault you lost your son, not my fault I'm an orphan! Why must it be father to son? If the pot is made well, does it matter whose son made it?"

A Single Shard is an engaging story about a 12th century Korean boy of twelve who is trying to find his way in life. The boy called Tree-ear does not have a comfortable home and lifestyle, and sheer survival is an issue he faces daily. Although an orphan, he is fortunate enough to have a father-son relationship with the elderly Crane-man, who has taken care of Tree-ear since he was a young child. I really liked the way Park depicted the relationship between these two “down-and-outers.”

Crane-man provides for Tree-ear’s basic needs such as food and shelter and gives him instruction and advice about life. Tree-ear obviously loves and respect the old man. In spite of the fact that Tree-ear and Crane-man live under a bridge and share any small amounts of food they are able to beg or gather, Tree-ear seems content with his life to a certain extent. They both have positive attitudes, support each other, and make each other laugh. Tree-ear does the best he can in his situation and has actually “come to appreciate his lowly status.” Tree-ear recognizes that Crane-man sacrifices a great deal for him and ponders to himself that it seemed “his friend spent the entire day figuring out how to transform a handful of weeks and bones into something that resembled a meal.” Crane-man is a great example of sacrificial love in the way he deals with Tree-ear. And Tree-ear longs to somehow give him something in return.

Although Tree-ear is a poor, homeless orphan, he is obviously bright and has the potential to accomplish much, if only given the opportunity. After secretly watching the village’s most talented potter, Tree-ear develops a growing desire to learn the skill of pottery-making and wants to make a beautiful vase himself. He is by nature a motivated, determined, and clever boy, and he is able to persuade Min to teach him his art. Tree-ear works diligently, even when the potter neither encourages nor helps him. He is always respectful and submissive to authority, which is a reflection of the Korean culture. While Min isn’t physically abusive, he never offers Tree-ear the positive feedback or patient instruction that a trainee needs from his master-teacher. But when Min is requested to make and bring samples of his fine pottery work to the court of the king, Tree-ear is assigned the task of making the journey to deliver the vases.

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Common Title
Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
Tree-Ear (Primary Character)
Crane-Man (Major Character)
Min the Potter (Major Character)
Min's wife (Major Character)
Awards and Honors