A single shard is why. This book left me breathless. It is a wonderful story and it is wonderful storytelling. Every time you think "oh I know how this will turn out' Linda Sue Park adds another twist taking you in an unexpected direction. Tree-Ear is such a wise young boy and his relationships are so well drawn in this story of the special pottery fashioned in Korea and of one ten year old boy who longs to learn how to make such wonderful creations.
"Min was just beginning a new pot. Min threw a mass of clay the size of a cabbage onto the center of the wheel. He picked it up and threw it again, threw it several times. After one last throw he sat down and stared at the clay for a moment. Using his foot to spin the base of the wheel, he placed dampened hands on the sluggardly lump, and for the hundredth time Tree-Ear watched the miracle."
While I was in America I thought I might read some Newbery winners. I stumbled upon this one in a bookshop at Grand Central Station. A single shard won the Newbery medal in 2002. You can read the whole story plot here and view a moving trailer. Here are some questions for teachers to use.
I was totally absorbed reading this book and I did not want it to end. If you only read one book recommended by this blog make it A single Shard.
If you enjoy this book (and I am sure you will) you might also look for The firework maker's daughter, and Where the Mountain meets the moon.
Here is an extract from A single shard :
"Over the past month or so Tree-ear had filled his idle time by molding clay. He kept a small ball in his waist pouch and experimented with it whenever he had the chance. After some time a shape began to form out of the clay; it was almost as it the clay was speaking to him, telling him what it wished to become. A monkey ... Smaller than the palm of Tree-ear's hand, the monkey say with its hands clasped before its round belly, looking content and well-fed."
In a moving exchange Tree-ear gives the little monkey to his one true friend Crane Man before he sets off on a journey to deliver some of Min's unique pottery to the capital.