September 8, 2014
In the the ancient Korean pottery town Ch’ulp’o, where any distinguished man is a potter, and able to make the perfect pots with the legendary Korean celadon glaze, lives a homeless, orphaned boy, Tree-Ear. Tree-ear lives under a bridge with his elderly friend Crane-Man, and spends his days scavenging for scraps.
But Tree-ear lives in awe of the renowned potters of his town and their exemplary work. He begs a potter named Min to take him as an apprentice. Though Tree-Ear spends his days chopping wood and cutting clay for Min, he hopes that one day, he too can form his very own pot on the wheel.
One day, an emissary comes from the great city of Songdo, to commission one potter to make pieces for the royal palace. The emissary asks Min to bring his best pieces to the city, to be considered for the palace. Min, much to his misery, is too old to make such a journey. So Tree-Ear agrees to transport the pieces many miles, across rugged terrain, and through the wilderness. But on the way there, nothing can stop the tragedy that befalls Tree-ear. Distraught and falling apart, Tree-ear must uphold the honor of his master, and persevere towards Songdo.
The book was both touching and suspenseful. It conveyed a sense of family and adventure, and above all, great perseverance to uphold one’s honor. In simple, but vibrant tones, the author conveys the feelings and details of this story. A great author can shape her words to portray art; Linda Sue Park brings the elegant curves and muted colors of the Korean pottery to life.
*This book review is an edited version of a review I posted on my school’s English blog.