Have you ever broken something that wasn’t yours? Did you have to do chores to pay for what was broken? That’s what happened to 10-year-old Tree-Ear. He was admiring a piece of pottery created by master potter Min who lived in the same village as Tree-Ear. An orphan who lives under a bridge with Crane-man, Tree-Ear is very poor and cannot pay for the broken pottery and must work for Min to pay for the broken pottery.
Min forces Tree-Ear to do difficult and tiring jobs, but Tree-Ear works hard; he wants to impress the master potter in hopes that he’ll allow Tree-Ear to be his apprentice. Tree-Ear proves to be a good worker and a quick learner. After his debt is paid, Min agrees to let Tree-Ear continue to work in exchange for food.
Later, when Min entrusts two of his best celadon pottery pots to Tree-Ear to deliver to the king’s emissary, he must travel for days over dangerous territory and protect the fragile pottery. Tree-Ear must rely on his courage and the lessons he has learned from Crane-man as he travels.
His desire to serve and honor Min keeps Tree-Ear pushing onward, even when he has only a single shard to show.
A Single Shard is a heart-warming story of selfless sacrifice, courage, and devotion. 160 pages 978-0395978276 Ages 9 and up
Recommended by Colette Eason, Librarian, Texas USA
In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters' village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.---from the publisher