First book, first time, very excited. I have to say one thing though, just to get it out of the way: I cheated.
I’m a teacher and I’m teaching this book to my class. I did the thing where I found a book that perfectly fit my history unit and had wonderful reviews, so I picked it. But I hadn’t actually read it until yesterday. So I cheated a little, because this is kinda work and pleasure. Not just a cannonball.
Got that out of the way.
Now I’ll get to the review: I knew it would be good. But I didn’t realize how enamored I’d be with this 170ish page gem, A Single Shard.
Set in 12th century Korea, a boy named Tree-man is an orphan with his elder friend Crane-man, living under a bridge. He scrounges for food, but is actually without major complaint about his circumstance. He seems to accept what his life is and will be, until he begins secretly watching the master potter in his town. This curiosity leads him down a path…
This book does all the things I would want it to do. It gave me just enough to understand the motivations of everyone and feel like I knew the overall direction, but saved a few secrets for later…in the end, I was left saying “oh, of COURSE!” a couple times, which I liked. The time and place added to the story without feeling forced. The detail in which pottery-making is described is beautifully (and accurately, I think?) done, and although the plot could be construed as boring by some (pottery, interesting?! nah!), I actually think my 6th graders will be into it. I kept describing it as “The Karate Kid”, but with pottery instead of karate during parent conferences and I think that’s a good comparison. (Better question: will my students even KNOW The Karate Kid? Oh man, I fear not.)
Seeing as I’m not in 6th grade and am instead a mostly fully formed adult, I read this very quickly, took notes about the themes (homelessness, food, perseverance, family, purpose), thought about how they connected to the modern day world and my ancient Korea unit, and put all of that together fairly quickly. I’m sure many of you could breeze through this too. But please know that when I say breeze, I’m talking about the most pleasant, warm, refreshing sea breeze you’ve ever felt…because I very much liked this book and feel that if you’re looking for an easy, multi-cultural historical fiction, this is an excellent choice.
Next up? I promised my friend I would read Landline by Rainbow Rowell for like…months. And while I’ve been slow, I plan to keep that promise. More to come!