Monday, January 2, 2012

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Kid Appeal: 5 stars (Lala-age 5 through Dancegirl-age 14)
Mom Appeal: 5 stars

Our night time family read aloud, we finished this in December 2011. (The Boy sleeps in the basement and would rather listen to his own books on CD rather than listen to his mother read aloud at night. He will let me read to him in the mornings, though!)

An excellent book. Winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal.

Quick summary:
Tree-ear is an orphan who has been cared for his nearly lame friend Crane-man for nearly his entire eleven (ish) years of life. In order to pay for something he breaks, he begins working for the grumpy potter Min. Tree-ear hopes to someday learn the art of making pottery. But, even when Min refuses to teach him this trade that is passed from Father to Son, Tree-ear agrees to travel to the capital city in order to share his master's work with the Royal Minister.

My children adore fantasy books. To the exclusion of nearly everything else. So, when I read to them (whether individually or as a family) I try to switch off realistic books with fantasy books while paying attention to the quality of the books we are reading. When I first started reading this the children were a bit skeptical that it would be something "good" (meaning fun or funny). But by the end they loved Tree-ear and were hoping for his happy ending. I didn't remember that the last chapter is a tear jerker, and so bawled my way through our final reading . . . but it was still a great reading experience. Because Coconut loves pottery, she is excited to choose this as her next Book Club Party Celebration.
I appreciated the "extras" at the back of the book that talked of Korean celadon pottery and some of the sources for Ms. Parks ideas.

-- If there was more to having a home than Crane-man and the bridge, Tree-ear had neither knowledge nor need of it.
-- Tree-ear could hardly wait to tell Crane-man. For the first time in his life he would have real work to do.
-- He felt like a beast with two heads, one ashamed, the other resentful.
-- The feast day banquets in the palace of the King could never better the modest meal before him, for he had earned it.
-- "I have no gift for you beyond words," Crane-man said, "I would tell you this. Of all the problems you may meet on your ourney, it will be people who are the greatest danger. But it will also be people to whom you must turn if ever you are in ned of aid. Remember this, my friend, and you will travel well."

Value Tracker: Integrity, Tenacity, Honor, Diligence, Friendship, Kindness, Courage,
Hints: I read the extras at the back of the book so I could give the children some background on Medieval Korea, celdon pottery, etc. We have just studied ancient/medieval Korea in our History co op, so we tied a lot of what we learned into those chapters from The Story of the World Volume 2 by Susan Wise Bauer. We also have a Calliope magazine on ancient Korea that I put out for children to peruse.

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