Linda Sue Park's latest book is When My Name Was Keoko.
Gr 5-8-Linda Sue Park's 2002 Newbery Award-winning story (Clarion, 2001) about Tree-ear, a 12th century Korean orphan who finds his future through his intuitive interest in the potter's trade, is nicely rendered by Graeme Malcolm. Tree-ear's early years have been spent in the care of the homeless but inventive Crane-man, who has taught him to find a meal among what other villagers have rejected as scrap and shelter beneath a bridge or in an old kimchee cellar, as the season dictates. Now about 12 years old, Tree-ear extends his social and labor habits to an elderly and idiosyncratic potter, first because Tree-ear must repay Min for a pot he damaged when he touched it without permission, and then as Min's helper, a job for which he is paid in food and the motherly affection of Min's wife. In a village renowned for its pottery, those in the trade eagerly anticipate a visit from the representative of the Korean court, each potter hoping that his designs will be selected for royal use. Tree-ear discovers a rival potter's invention of a new surface design technique that he knows Min could use to better effect than does the inventor. Eventually, the technique is revealed and Min is able to adapt it to his excellent work, sending Tree-ear on a long and dangerous journey to court with two sample pieces. By the time Tree-ear arrives, he has but a single shard to show the court's pottery expert. Malcolm's light British accent is clear and adds a sense of "another place, another time" to this tale. However, many of the issues transcend centuries and cultures: What is home? Can one own a creative idea? How much of an art object must be seen in order to judge its quality? This book will engage both individual readers and discussion groups; the audio version makes it accessible to a broader audience, while giving style and substance to those who have read the print version.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Intrigues, danger, and the same strong focus on doing what is
right turn a simple story into a compelling read. . . . A timeless
-Kirkus Reviews, Starred
British actor Malcolm initially seems an odd choice of narrator for Park's novel set in 12th-century Korea, but he proves to be a compelling performer on this adaptation of the book that was recently named winner of this year's Newbery Medal. Tree-ear, a 12-year-old orphan, spends most of his time rummaging in trash heaps for food for himself and his friend and protector, the crippled Crane-man. But Tree-ear longs for much more; he wants to become skilled like the potters of his village, Ch'ulp'o, famous for its prized celadon ceramic ware. Tree-ear begins his path by accident, watching master potter Min in secret. Before long, Min grudgingly takes Tree-ear on as an assistant, having the boy fetch wood and do other menial tasks. Eventually Min entrusts Tree-ear with a most important job: delivering two specially crafted vases to the palace in hopes of securing a royal commission for Min's fine pottery work. The vases meet with disaster on Tree-ear's journey, but he persists on his mission, with only a single shard to show the royal emissary. Though Malcolm's performance slows a bit when reading passages describing the routines of the potters and Tree-ear's travels to the palace, listeners will likely be hooked by Tree-ear's perseverance and fascinated by a look into this craftsmen's colony from Korean history. Ages 10-14. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.