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