The Single Shard

Author: Linda Sue Park
Lexile level: 920L
Guided Reading Level: U
DRA Level: 50
Grade Level Equivalent: 6.8
My recommended reading age: 10 and up

Where will my next meal come from?  This is the thought that dominates Tree-ear's life daily as he scavenges for food in refuse piles.  Life in 12th-century Korea is hard, and survival depends on Tree-ears garbage digging ability, until one day when he begins working for the village's most skilled potter, Min.  Fascinated by the amazing skill of Min, Tree-ear longs to make beautiful pots of his own one day.  His dream seems unlikely however, because he is an orphan, and pottery apprenticeships are passed from father to son.  Determined to do his best for Min, Tree-ear embarks on a long and dangerous journey to show some of Min's best work to the royal court in order to secure a commission.  Faced with disaster along the way, Tree-ear learns what true courage is and the rewards of perseverance.

This book was an enjoyable view into an otherwise totally unfamiliar life, country and time period for me.  The characters were very well written and each added to the story.  I loved the message that honesty is more important than gain, and that the community must work together, even though their individual pottery sales compete against each other.  There was nothing offensive in this book and it was a great read.


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