50 Books by Authors of Color: Book 44
Title: A Single Shard
Author: Linda Sue Park
Set it feudal Korea, Tree-Ear is an orphan who lives under a bridge in the village of Ch’ilp’o. His only care taker is a man with a twisted leg known as Crane-man. Tree-Ear loves pottery, and one day after accidentally breaking a beautiful work by a potter known as Min, Tree-Ear begins his work for Min to repay the damage done. Tree-Ear works diligently for Min doing awful, back breaking labor such as chopping wood for the community kiln and getting clay. Originally only intended to be nine days of work, Tree-Ear decides to stay on, in part because he wishes one day to be able to create his own pottery and partially because of the kindness of the potter’s wife.
When the chance of a royal commission comes up, Min and the other Potters in the village work very hard to create the best wares in order to impress the royal emissary. While Min’s work is superior in craftsmanship it is dwarfed by a multi-colored technique that another potter has started using and Min doesn’t get the initial commission. When given a second change, Tree-Ear volunteers to make the journey to the capital city alone and by foot. The journey is treacherous and will change Tree-Ear and Min’s lives forever.
This book is actually great, heart breaking and beautifully written, Tree-Ear has a dream, to one day create his own pottery, a dream that is denied him when he learns that by royal decree the potter’s trade is passed from father to son, and being an orphan Tree-Ear has no chance at becoming a potter. He continues to work for Min with dedication even though he is heartbroken.
Overall Rating: 4/5