Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
2002 Newbery Medal Winner

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Yearling (February 11, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0440418518
ISBN-13: 978-0440418511

Tree-Ear is a young orphan boy who lives under a bridge with his companion, Crane-man, in 12th century Korea. The two friends never know where their next meal is coming from, but what is lacking in food and money is made up for in heart and friendship.

When Tree-Ear is not scrounging for scraps of food, he watches master potter Min make his beautiful Korean Celadon pottery. One day he can't resist picking up a beautiful piece of pottery and ends up damaging the work. Because he can't repay Min in money, he agrees to work for Min to repay him in hopes of learning from this master potter. But Min has other things in store, and Tree-Ear finds himself doing excruciating manual labor.

When the king sends his emissary to find potters for a lifelong commission, Tree-Ear finds himself going on a journey that forever changes his life.

A Single Shard is a beautifully written and emotional novel about friendship, hope, love, and acceptance. Here's a passage near the beginning of the novel that particularly spoke to me:

The gentle curves of the vase, its mysterious green color. The sharp angle of the plum twigs, their blackness stark amid the airy white blossoms. The work of a human, the work of nature; clay from the earth, a branch from the sky. A kind of peace spread through Tree-Ear, body and mind, as if while he looked at the vase and its branch, nothing could ever go wrong in the world. (p. 52)
But things do go wrong in the world as we witness Tree-Ear on both his physical journey and his emotional journey in the book. Through Tree-Ear's story, the reader also learns a lot about pottery making during the 12th century and the hard work involved in creating one single piece of celadon pottery. The Author's Note at the end of the book along with an essay about celadon pottery teach us more about the time period and the art of creating this rare and beautiful pottery.

This book is would make a good clean read aloud for an entire family, and children will enjoy going back into time and learning more about pottery making. Chock full of learning opportunities, this book would also make an excellent addition to any classroom curriculum.


  1. This is one of my favorite Newbery winners, a quietly beautiful book. I got the audiobook to listen to on a drive from DC to RI last summer, and my husband, after driving for 9+ hours on 95, sat in his parents' driveway for another 20 mintues just to listen to the end of the book. Thanks for giving it such a great review; I hope more people read it, too!

  2. Anamaria,
    I love your phrase, "quietly beautiful," and think it really sums up the book quite nicely. I think it would be wonderful to listen to as well. That's so funny about your husband, and I've found myself guilty of doing the same thing when listening to audio books.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Linda Sue Park is my favorite "girl" children's/young adult author. A Single Shard is beautifully written and is my favorite from her. I'm taking a group of students to see her in Dallas in 2009.

  5. Anonymous,
    I so need to read more of her books, and I think your students will love the experience of seeing her in Dallas. You're creating a special memory for them that will last a lifetime! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. i didnt like this book at all... its pointless


  8. Linda I absolutly loved your book I am a big fan. As my teacher says, there is delicious vocab. anyway, I loved the ending... don't worry I won't give it away.i highly recomend this book to 4th, 5th, and older or advanced people. Linda I love your books.KEEP ON WRITING! :)Love, your bigest fan????????

  9. Dear linda your book is the best book I have ever read. The ending is so weird and it scary at the rock of falling flowers I don't see what the point of that was it was the reason why I dislike the book. When iread it to my class they started to cry and walked out of the room it's all your falt and I dislike you for THAT and know I am going to walk outside and throw it in the trash with all my dogs poo.

  10. Linda,
    I sooooooooooooooooooooo disagree with Anonamus JANUARY26,20104:23 PM!!!! She was soooo rude to you. I absolutly LOVE your poopy book toodles!!!!!