A Single Shard is my all-time-favorite Newbery winning book. I have had the honor of meeting Linda Sue Park and she is as gracious as she is talented. If you read any of the books I recommend – you must read this one.
A Single Shard is an historical fiction mid-grade novel. It’s about an orphaned Korean boy named Tree-ear who lives under a bridge with his care-taker Crane-man, who is disabled. The two are as close as father and son. Crane-man has raised Tree-ear to be a resourceful and honorable young man.
Tree-ear is fascinated by the talents of a local potter named Min. After accidentally breaking some of Min’s pottery pieces, Tree-ear begins working as an assistant to Min in order to pay off the debt. Tree-ear dreams of making a pot himself one day, but is never taught by Min.
After an emissary from the palace visits Tree-ear’s town, Min’s pottery pieces must be transported to a far away city in order for Min to receive a royal commission. Tree-ear volunteers to deliver Min’s pottery to the palace, even though Min has refused to teach Tree-ear how to make pottery.
On the journey to deliver Min’s pottery to the palace, Tree-ear is attacked by robbers and they hurl the pottery over a cliff. Tree-ear is devastated. He feels that he has failed his master. Being the brave and honorable young man that he is, he goes to the bottom of the gorge and finds a single shard of Min’s pottery intact. Tree-ear delivers this one piece to the royal emissary. The piece is such a magnificent work of art that Min gets the royal commission.
This book is incredible. Ms. Park's story will carry you away to live under the bridge with Tree-ear and Crane-man. Her writing style is concise and poetic. You will be hooked on the first page.
I recommend this book to 5th graders and anyone that loves an underdog story.
List of Jennifer's Recommended Books by Grade:
2nd grade –
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Miss Holly Is Too Jolly, by Dan Gutman
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
3rd grade –
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Impostors by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and
4th grade –
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
The Golly Whopper Games by Jody Feldman
5th grade –
Benjamin Pratt & The Keeper of the School by Andrew Clements
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
6th grade –
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Dewey, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
7th grade and up –
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Seventeen Second Miracle, by Jason F. Wright