A Single Shard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A Single Shard
First edition
Author Linda Sue Park
Cover artist Jean and Mon-sien Tseng
Country United States
Language English
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Clarion Books
Publication date
April 23, 2001
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 152 pp
ISBN 0-395-97827-0
OCLC 44803112
LC Class PZ7.P22115 Si 2001

A Single Shard is a novel by Linda Sue Park, set in 12th-century Korea. It won the 2002 Newbery Medal, awarded for excellence in children's literature; it also received an honorable mention from the Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature.


A Single Shard tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Tree-ear. He is an orphan and lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a small village in 12th Century Korea, with Crane-man, a crippled old man. Tree-ear scavenges for food most of the time, but after a full meal, Tree-ear loves to watch the potter, Min, make his pottery. One day, when no one is around, Tree-ear sneaks into Potter Min's house for a closer look at his creations. There are many objects, but one object particularly interests Tree-ear: a rectangular, lidded box. It is undercoated on the outside, but Tree-ear suspects that the inside is more spectacular. Out of curiosity, Tree-ear decides to look inside the box and finds five smaller boxes. They fit perfectly around each other. Potter Min shouts when he finds Tree-ear, who dropped the box in fright, breaking it. To repay the potter, Tree-ear offers to work for Master Min, and it is agreed he will work nine days, as the box took three days to make. Min assigns Tree-ear the task of collecting wood and clay for his nine days of work. Tree-ear is dismayed, for he secretly wants to make a pot. After his work days are completed, Tree-ear offers to work for the potter for free in hope of getting to make his own pot. Tree-ear is assigned various tasks including chopping wood and digging clay but never has the chance to make a pot. Tree-ear eventually learns that Min will not teach him how to make a pot because Min says that it passed down from father to son , and Min's son died of fever years ago. Emissary Kim arrives and inspects the pottery. Kang is chosen for the commission. Min begins work on a new set of pottery, but smashes them because they are not as good as he wants. Min makes more vases and tells Tree-ear to transport them to Songdo. During his journey, he is attacked by a few thieves.

When all of the pots are smashed, he is left with just a single shard to display his master's skill (hence the book's title). The emissary is able to see Min's great skill, even from the small, broken piece, and grants him a commission. After Tree-ear returns to Ch'ul'po, he learns from Min that Crane-man has died. Min and his wife adopt Tree-ear, giving him a new name and finally teaching him the art of pottery.


The New York Times praised A Single Shard as being "deftly shaped" and "surprisingly moving", stating that the Newbery Medal would help expose the novel to an audience it would otherwise have not reached.[1]


  1. ^ Lannon, Linnea. "CHILDREN'S BOOKS". NYT. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
A Year Down Yonder
Newbery Medal Award
Succeeded by
Crispin: The Cross of Lead