Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2001 Tree-ear, an orphaned Korean boy who lives under a bridge with his crippled adult friend Crane-man, dreams of bettering himself by learning the potter's trade. His twelfth-century village is renowned for its delicate celadon ware, and the craftsmanship of Min, a master revered by fellow masters, is the benchmark by which Tree-ear sets his standards. Unfortunately, trade apprenticeship is traditionally limited to sons, and although Tree-ear manages to connive his way into working as Min's assistant, his chances of becoming a potter are virtually nonexistent. When a royal commission comes within Min's grasp, however, Tree-ear seizes a chance to rise in his employer's eyes by delivering sample vases to the emissary at Songdo. Patience and perfectionism, as Park demonstrates, are vital to a celadon potter's art, but although Tree-ear eventually masters both, readers will become squirmy waiting for him to hit the road to Songdo, adventures, and the happy (if wishful) ending. Concluding notes expand on the celadon trade and discuss liberties taken with Korean history of the period. - Copyright 2001 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2001 Gr 5-8-In this tale of courage and devotion, a single shard from a celadon vase changes the life of a young boy and his master. In 12th-century Korea, the village of Ch'ulp'o is famous for its pottery. The orphan Tree-ear spends his days foraging for food for himself and Crane-man, a lame straw weaver who has cared for him for many years. Because of his wanderings, Tree-ear is familiar with all of the potters in the village, but he is especially drawn to Min. When he drops a piece Min has made, Tree-ear begins to work for him to pay off his debt, but stays on after the debt is paid because he longs to learn to create beautiful pots himself. Sent to the royal court to show the king's emissary some new pottery, Tree-ear makes a long journey filled with disaster and learns what it means to have true courage. This quiet story is rich in the details of life in Korea during this period. In addition it gives a full picture of the painstaking process needed to produce celadon pottery. However, what truly stands out are the characters: the grumpy perfectionist, Min; his kind wife; wise Crane-man; and most of all, Tree-ear, whose determination and lively intelligence result in good fortune. Like Park's Seesaw Girl (1999) and The Kite Fighters (2000, both Clarion), this book not only gives readers insight into an unfamiliar time and place, but it is also a great story.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. - Copyright 2001 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/01/2001 *Starred Review* When the polite greeting in a society is Have you eaten well today?' one may guess that subsistence is of prime concern. Surely no one in this twelfth-century Korean village is more accustomed to hunger than the orphan boy Tree-ear and his guardian Crane-man who is lame. They sleep under a bridge in summer and in a pit in winter, eating what they can forage in the woods or garbage piles. At the age of 12, Tree-ear becomes an assistant to the potter Min. A hard taskmaster to himself and the boy, Min is the maker of the finest celadon ware in Ch'ul'po, a village known for its pottery. When Min entrusts two precious pots to Tree-ear to deliver to Songdo, the boy must make his way across miles of unknown territory, relying on his courage and wits to prove himself worthy of Min's trust. This quiet, but involving, story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. - Copyright 2001 Booklist.