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Monday, January 12, 2015

Newbery Medal Winner Full of History and Heart

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Tree-Ear, an orphan living in 12th Century Korea, has one desire:  to create beautiful celadon pottery like the skilled artisans for which his village is known.  He has little opportunity to do so, however, since his time is occupied by eking out a meager living for himself and his guardian.  Crippled and elderly, Crane-man has always insisted they do so honestly, without stealing or begging.  Tree-Ear may be poor, but he's a good boy who's enjoyed a relatively happy life.  Even if his greatest desire has remained unfulfilled.

While spying on a local potter in the hopes of learning some of his secrets, Tree-Ear accidentally breaks some of the man's wares.  Tree-Ear promises to work off the debt and more, if the artist will only take him on as an apprentice.  Overjoyed by the prospect of finally learning to create beautiful pottery, Tree-Ear does not realize what he has gotten himself into.  The cranky potter will not make the apprenticeship easy, especially when he receives a royal commission that will, ultimately, require every ounce of skill and courage young Tree-Ear possesses. 

Filled with history and heart, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park tells a unique, inspiring story about one boy's quest to live his dream.  Winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal, this quiet tale is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and bravely soldiering on against insurmountable odds.  Even though it's not my absolute favorite Newbery winner, A Single Shard is absolutely worth the read.  It's a simple, but affecting story that teaches some great lessons.  

If you're interested in seeing real Korean potters at work, check out this video that I discovered via Linda Sue Park's website.  It's pretty amazing!

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. This might be a good classroom read, but as for individual checkout --in my experience kids don't like this book. As often happens with the award winners...I read this when it came out and loved it. Tried to push it to some kids -- nope.

    1. Yeah, I can't seeing this one flying off the shelves. It's a much quieter read than most books written for this age group. Too bad, though, because it's a great book and one I think kids would like if they just gave it a chance.

  2. This is one of those books I've had my eye on for years, and not gotten around to. I'm glad you reviewed it, and one of these days I will definitely find time to read it!


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