A Single Shard

A Single Shard

Winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal

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

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