A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

My final Battle book!  I saved this one for last because it was the shortest, which ended up being good because I had to read it much faster than I read the other books.  Still, it was a little hard to get into because it just wasn’t my thing.  I caught myself moaning that “pottery is boring” and had to remind myself that I read a 700 page book on logging last summer and thus my argument was invalid.

A Single Shard is the story of Tree-ear, an orphan boy named after a mushroom who lives under a bridge with his friend, Crane-man.  Tree-ear lives in a potters’ village in Korea in the Thirteenth century and he likes to watch the potters work.  Mostly he is interested in Min, a man who works much slower than they other potters but also has much finer work.  When Tree-ear sneaks a closer look at Min’s work and accidentally drops a piece, he offers to work for Min as a form of repayment.  Min accepts, and Tree-ear is excited to learn the trade.  Only, Min has other ideas and Tree-ear begins the arduous work of what I like to call “support tasks.”  He collects wood.  He collects clay.  He mixes and drains clay.

Then Tree-ear sees another potter working on a new technique that could bring fame to Min.  When an emissary for the emperor asks Min to replicate this work, Tree-ear is able to tell him how and even offers to make the journey to the capital with the resulting pieces even though he hasn’t left the village since he was brought there as a baby.

Honestly, this was a book that screamed “assigned reading.”  I cannot imagine a kid ever picking it up just for fun.  That being said, it wasn’t terrible, just a little slow and dull.  It did make me cry, but I can’t tell you if it was actually the book or the hormones that did it.


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