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Deidre's Book Reviews

A Single Shard
True Believer
The Tale of Despereaux
The Giver
The First Part Last
A Single Shard
How Angel Peterson Got His Name
SHAKA: King of the Zulus
The Gold Cadillac
Freedman's Voice that Challenged A Nation
Messages in the Mailbox
Seymour's Stars
Author Study: Joyce Carol Thomas
My Favorite Joyce Carol Thomas Books
Suggested Response Activity
Review of Thomas's Hush Songs
Review of Thomas's Gingerbread Days
Ride a Purple Pelican
My Momma Likes to Say
My Man Blue
Beast Feast
The Stinky Cheese Man
Once Upon A Time
My Friend Rabbit
Caring for Your Pets
Two Bad Ants

Park, Linda Sue. 2002. A SINGLE SHARD. Read by Graeme

            Malcolm. New York: Listening Library. Sound

            Recording. ISBN: 0-8072-0701-2




A Single Shard is the story of a boy, Tree-ear, who an orphan in Korea in the 12th century, is named after a mushroom that grows without benefit of a parent seed.  As a young boy, he lived under a bridge and was taken care of by a homeless man, Crane-man.  The homeless man taught Tree-ear to find meals that were thrown scraps of near-by villagers. However, Crane-man taught Tree-ear that stealing and begging made a man no better than a dog. 




 Tree-ear becomes fascinated by the Korean’s pottery skills in the village.  After accidentally damaging a pot, he wants to repay the most talented master potter, Min, of Ch’ulpo, a village made of mostly potters, where the young boy lives.




Tree-ear works as Min’s helper to repay him, and Min agrees to pay the boy with food. Tree-ear becomes fascinated by the Koreans’ pottery skills.  The sound recording discusses the trials and sorrows that Tree-ear is faced with.   




In this historical work of fiction, Park shows the listener how the community helps to build the relationship between characters through their works.  For example, Tree-ear saves half of his lunch from Min’s wife everyday to give to Crane-man.  It serves as a true historical fiction work because it truly makes the historical period of Korea come to life, describing the patterns of daily life as potters in the village.




Tree-ear faces the most difficult trials when he is instructed to carry finished clay samples by foot along a lengthy terrain, from the Ch’ulpo village to a palace in Songdo. The dangerous journey to the palace ends with Tree-ear being robbed and being forced to deliver only a single shard to the palace. 




Min’s wife watched and believed in Tree-ear.  She explained to the royal palace in Songdo, about how Tree-ear was a faithful and diligent worker.  It explains to the listener that it takes more than accomplishment to achieve something emotionally.  The sacrifices that Tree-ear made throughout his life allow the listener to understand why things done sacrificially mean much more than those done without.




The story is appropriately written for young readers ages 10 to 14.  It teaches them to be more like Tree-ear and to never give up on their dreams regardless of the circumstances that may come.  It also teaches about the art and techniques of ceramics, describing how the potters prepare, dig, mold, and use kilns.




Although the story’s setting is of Korea, the British voice of Malcolm helps add life to the characters in the sound recording.  It does what the illustrations would do for the book- adding meaning to the actions of the characters. 




Even though there are obviously not any illustrations, the story provides descriptive words to help the listener envision the story.  For example, there are descriptions of the multitude of colors that are produced once the clay is put into the fire.   








Last updated: April 3, 2005