Wednesday 30 May 2012

A Single Shard

A Single Shard A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (UQP)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9780702239373
Reviewed by Jo Burnell

A Single Shard won the Newbery Award for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children in 2002. Fancy words for a simple tale that will touch the hearts of all who hear or read it.

Linda Sue Park has woven historical facts from 12th century Korea and Korean Celadon pottery with unlikely heroes. The result is a warm, enticing tale for all.

Tree Ear was orphaned as a toddler. Monks asked Crane Man, homeless, disabled and living under a bridge, to mind the child as they searched unsuccessfully for relatives. When they return ready to take the child to a nearby monastery, Tree Ear would not be parted from Crane Man.

So began the pair's happy struggle for survival under the bridge. Together they eked out a simple but honourable existence on the edge of starvation, adhering to Crane Man's philosophy: 'there are many ways to garner a meal, but stealing and begging make a man no better than a dog'.

A Single Shard is the tale of how, amid this fight for survival, ten year old Tree Ear's hopes and dreams of being a Celadon Potter rise and fall in a village filled with potters. Tree Ear's longing collides with the cantankerous Min, Master Potter, and his kind-hearted wife.

Join Tree Ear as his efforts to be a trustworthy assistant are met with obstacles and resistance. I could't put the book down as I cheered him on, only to find him fall once more. Tree Ear is not the sort to give up easily, but the peaks of tiny triumphs wrestled time and again with difficulties and tragedy.

Will Tree Ear ever reach his dream? A Single Shard touched me to my core, revealing my own real life fears and hopes. Sometimes life blocks us on our journey to fulfilment, or does it?

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