A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park

Award-winning middle grade published in a stunning 20th anniversary edition? That quickly peaked my interest – and seeing that the story of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park was set in medieval Korea got me hooked. I didn’t think much further and screamed an enthusiastic YES when I was offered a review copy – massive thanks to Rock the Boat! And then the story drew me in and left me crying…

RELEASE DATE: 20/01/2022


SUMMARY: 13-year-old Tree-ear lives in a Korean village famous for its ceramics. He doesn’t have much but he loves to watch master potter Min at work and dreams of learning the craft one day.

Reluctantly Min agrees to let Tree-ear help him. Determined to do whatever it takes to prove himself, Tree-ear embarks on a dangerous journey to present his master’s work to the king, unaware it will change his life forever. (from Rock the Boat)

OPINIONS: A book that has me weeping by the end of it definitely deserves all five stars. It took me a little while to really get settled with the story, as you can tell that it’s a slightly older book – not in a bad way, but children’s books have changed a lot in how they approach storytelling and narrative in the meantime, so the set-up and pacing was a bit slower than expected, especially as the book was relatively short. It is the sort of story that drives the reader’s investment through character and emotions, rather than a full plot and constant action. In that respect, it is a children’s book that is of the sort that easily reads up, and has as much to give to adults as it does to young readers. I think it would also make for a great book to read aloud to a child that isn’t quite ready to read this on their own yet.

I loved Min and especially Ajima so much – despite not having a lot of speaking time in the novel, the gruff potter and his wife really grew on me as the story went on. Tree-ear is a lovely character, both young and naive as well as independent and self-sufficient. Nevertheless, more than anything, he is a boy who wants approval and attention, deep down. Ultimately, his story, his quest to support Min, to show the world what he’s made of is a universal story, one that will resonate with many readers.

A Single Shard shows how a great story doesn’t need to be epic or made up of grand adventures. It can be quiet, it can be the tender representation of a thread of kinship growing between two strangers, or the rip-roaring grief over a friend taken unexpectedly. It is a wonderful book, a sad book, a book that breaks your heart and reassembles it new. I loved it, and I hope you will too.

Add A Single Shard to your Goodreads here, or order a copy via Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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