Book Review: A single Shard

Essay by potcfan81Junior High, 8th gradeA+, March 2004

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"A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park is about an orphan named Tree-ear who lives with Crane-Man, an old, homeless widower who took Tree-ear in when an epidemic raged through the monasteries', who could not keep Tree-ear in fear of contaminating him. The setting of this story is in a twelfth-century Korean potters' village Ch'ulp'o. Tree-ear was content to live with Crane-man under a bridge, barely surviving on a few scraps of food. All of that changed, though when he saw a master potter named Min make his stunning pottery. Tree-ear longed to make his pots as good as Min's one day. He unfortunately had to pay off a debt by working for Min when he broke one of his great works by mistake. Though the work was hard and long, the young lad was eager to learn. He was sent to the King's Court to show the master's pottery, but two bandits robbed him of his possessions on his way and dropped his masters' work, which reduced the vases into shards of great fine work.

Determined not to come back empty handed he took a single shard from the broken earth ware and displayed it to the palace commissioner. The commissioner, a kind man, admired the boys' will and the piece of art. When he came back home, however, his whole world was devastated by the news of his beloved friend's, Crane-man, death. Min and his wife adopted him and gave him a new name. He could not have thanked them enough and he was finally able to learn what he had wanted to, which was his sole desire for a very long time.

I think the theme of this book is never giving up hope. Tree-ear was determined and resolute to accomplish what he was sent...