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  • A Single Shard
  • Written by Linda Sue Park
    Read by Graeme Malcolm
  • Format: Unabridged Compact Disc | ISBN: 9781400084951
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  • A Single Shard
  • Written by Linda Sue Park
    Read by Graeme Malcolm
  • Format: Unabridged Audiobook Download | ISBN: 9780807207031
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A Single Shard

Written by Linda Sue ParkAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Linda Sue Park
Read by Graeme MalcolmAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Graeme Malcolm

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Read by Graeme Malcolm
On Sale: April 27, 2004
ISBN: 978-1-4000-8495-1
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Read by Graeme Malcolm
On Sale: January 22, 2002
ISBN: 978-0-8072-0703-1
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters’ village. When he accidentally breaks a pot, he must work for the master to pay for the damage by setting off on a difficult and dangerous journey that will change his life forever.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Eh, Tree-ear! Have you hungered well today?" Crane-man called out as Tree-ear drew near the bridge.

The well-fed of the village greeted each other politely by saying, "Have you eaten well today?" Tree-ear and his friend turned the greeting inside out for their own little joke.

Tree-ear squeezed the bulging pouch that he wore at his waist. He had meant to hold back the good news, but the excitement spilled out of him. "Crane-man! A good thing that you greeted me so just now, for later today we will have to use the proper words!" He held the bag high. Tree-ear was delighted when Crane-man's eyes widened in surprise. He knew that Crane-man would guess at once--only one thing could give a bag that kind of smooth fullness. Not carrot-tops or chicken bones, which protruded in odd lumps. No, the bag was filled with rice.

Crane-man raised his walking crutch in a salute. "Come, my young friend! Tell me how you came by such a fortune--a tale worth hearing, no doubt!"

Tree-ear had been trotting along the road on his early-morning perusal of the village rubbish heaps. Ahead of him a man carried a heavy load on a jiggeh, an open-framed backpack made of branches. On the jiggeh was a large woven-straw container, the kind commonly used to carry rice.

Tree-ear knew that the rice must be from last year's crop; in the fields surrounding the village this season's rice had only just begun to grow. It would be many months before the rice was harvested and the poor allowed to glean the fallen grain from the bare fields. Only then would they taste the pure flavor of rice and feel its solid goodness in their bellies. Just looking at the straw box made water rush into Tree-ear's mouth.

The man had paused in the road and hoisted the wooden jiggeh higher on his back, shifting the cumbersome weight. As Tree-ear stared, rice began to trickle out of a hole in the straw box. The trickle thickened and became a stream. Oblivious, the man continued on his way.

For a few short moments Tree-ear's thoughts wrestled with one another. Tell him--quickly! Before he loses too much rice!

No! Don't say anything--you will be able to pick up the fallen rice after he rounds the bend. . . .

Tree-ear made his decision. He waited until the man had reached the bend in the road, then ran to catch him.

"Honorable sir," Tree-ear said, panting and bowing. "As I walked behind you, I noticed that you are marking your path with rice!"

The farmer turned and saw the trail of rice. A well-built man with a broad suntanned face, he pushed his straw hat back, scratched his head, and laughed ruefully.

"Impatience," said the farmer. "I should have had this container woven with a double wall. But it would have taken more time. Now I pay for not waiting a bit longer." He struggled out of the jiggeh's straps and inspected the container. He prodded the straw to close the gap but to no avail, so he threw his arms up in mock despair. Tree-ear grinned. He liked the farmer's easygoing nature.

"Fetch me a few leaves, boy," said the farmer. Tree-ear complied, and the man stuffed them into the container as a temporary patch.

The farmer squatted to don the jiggeh. As he started walking, he called over his shoulder. "Good deserves good, urchin. The rice on the ground is yours if you can be troubled to gather it."

"Many thanks, kind sir!" Tree-ear bowed, very pleased with himself. He had made a lucky guess, and his waist pouch would soon be filled with rice.

Tree-ear had learned from Crane-man's example. Foraging in the woods and rubbish heaps, gathering fallen grain-heads in the autumn--these were honorable ways to garner a meal, requiring time and work. But stealing and begging, Crane-man said, made a man no better than a dog.

"Work gives a man dignity, stealing takes it away," he often said.

Following Crane-man's advice was not always easy for Tree-ear. Today, for example. Was it stealing, to wait as Tree-ear had for more rice to fall before alerting the man that his rice bag was leaking? Did a good deed balance a bad one? Tree-ear often pondered these kinds of questions, alone or in discussion with Crane-man.

"Such questions serve in two ways," Crane-man had explained. "They keep a man's mind sharp--and his thoughts off his empty stomach."

Now, as always, he seemed to know Tree-ear's thoughts without hearing them spoken. "Tell me about this farmer," he said. "What kind of man was he?"

Tree-ear considered the question for several moments, stirring his memory. At last, he answered, "One who lacks patience--he said it himself. He had not wanted to wait for a sturdier container to be built. And he could not be bothered to pick up the fallen rice." Tree-ear paused. "But he laughed easily, even at himself."

"If he were here now, and heard you tell of waiting a little longer before speaking, what do you think he would say or do?"

"He would laugh," Tree-ear said, surprising himself with the speed of his response. Then, more slowly, "I think . . . he would not have minded."

Crane-man nodded, satisfied. And Tree-ear thought of something his friend often said: Scholars read the great words of the world. But you and I must learn to read the world itself.

Tree-ear was so called after the mushroom that grew in wrinkled half-circles on dead or fallen tree trunks, emerging from the rotten wood without benefit of parent seed. A good name for an orphan, Crane-man said. If ever Tree-ear had had another name, he no longer remembered it, nor the family that might have named him so.

Tree-ear shared the space under the bridge with Crane-man--or rather, Crane-man shared it with him. After all, Crane-man had been there first, and would not be leaving anytime soon. The shriveled and twisted calf and foot he had been born with made sure of that.

Tree-ear knew the story of his friend's name. "When they saw my leg at birth, it was thought I would not survive," Crane-man had said. "Then, as I went through life on one leg, it was said that I was like a crane. But besides standing on one leg, cranes are also a symbol of long life." True enough, Crane-man added. He had outlived all his family and, unable to work, had been forced to sell his possessions one by one, including, at last, the roof over his head. Thus it was that he had come to live under the bridge.

Once, a year or so earlier, Tree-ear had asked him how long he had lived there. Crane-man shook his head; he no longer remembered. But then he brightened and hobbled over to one side of the bridge, beckoning Tree-ear to join him.

"I do not remember how long I have been here," he said, "but I know how long you have." And he pointed upward, to the underside of the bridge. "I wonder that I have not shown you this before."

On one of the slats was a series of deep scratches, as if made with a pointed stone. Tree-ear examined them, then shook his head at Crane-man. "So?"

"One mark for each spring since you came here," Crane-man explained. "I kept count of your years, for I thought the time would come when you would like to know how old you are."

Tree-ear looked again, this time with keen interest. There was a mark for each finger of both hands--ten marks in all.

Crane-man answered before Tree-ear asked. "No, you have more than ten years," he said. "When you first came and I began making those marks, you were in perhaps your second year--already on two legs and able to talk."


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Linda Sue Park|Graeme Malcolm

About Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park - A Single Shard

Photo © Klaus Pollmeier

“Everything inspires me! The things I see and do every day; people I meet; conversations, movies, television, books. . . . One of the best things about writing is that it makes you a better observer—you pay attention to people and things because you never know what might inspire a story!”—Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park won the 2002 John Newbery Medal for A Single Shard, her third book for young readers.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Sue Park was born and raised in Illinois. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was 4 years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.

Park was first published when she was 9 years old. She was paid one whole dollar for a haiku that ran in a children’s magazine. Her father still has the one-dollar check in a frame above his desk.

During elementary school and high school, Park had several more poems published in magazines for children and young people. She studied English at Stanford University and then she took a job as a public-relations writer for a major oil company. This was not exactly the kind of writing she wanted to do, but it did teach her to present her work professionally and that an interested writer can make any subject fascinating.

Somewhere between living in Ireland, England, and the United States; teaching English as a Second Language and working as a food journalist; and starting a family, Park finally realized that what she really wanted to do was to write books for children.

Park lives in upstate New York with her husband, their two children, a dog, a hamster, and eight tadpoles. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue Park likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzles.

For more information on Linda Sue Park, visit her Web site at www.lindasuepark.com


PRAISE

THE KITE FIGHTERS
—An IRA Teachers’ Choice
—One of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

“With ease and grace, Park brings these long-ago children to life.”—Starred, School Library Journal

SEESAW GIRL
“In descriptive, engaging prose, the story portrays the culture, traditions, and daily lives of the Korean aristocracy.”—Booklist

A SINGLE SHARD
—The 2002 Newbery Medal Winner
—A School Library Journal Best Book
—A Booklist Editors’ Choice
—One of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

“Tree-ear’s story conveys a time and place far away and long ago, but with a simplicity and immediacy that is both graceful and unpretentious. A timeless jewel.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

About Graeme Malcolm

Graeme Malcolm - A Single Shard
GRAEME MALCOLM has appeared on and off Broadway in Aida, The King and I, Lincoln Center's Hapgood, and M. Butterfly (National Tour). His television appearances include Law & Order, Follow the River, and Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson (with Laurence Olivier). Film credits include A Further Gesture, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, and Reunion.
Praise | Awards

Praise

“Intrigues, danger, and the same strong focus on doing what is right turn a simple story into a compelling read. . . . A timeless jewel.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Awards

WINNER 2002 Newbery Medal Winner

  • A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
  • April 27, 2004
  • Juvenile Fiction
  • Listening Library (Audio)
  • $14.99
  • 9781400084951

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