Don't Judge a Book by the Cover: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. Clarion, 2001.

Tree-ear’s yearning starts out a little rough—not deftly drawn—but soon I’m sucked into the story. I found this similar to Little House and Birchbark House, but about a boy and a different sort of land. The plot is stronger, more reminiscent of Katherine Paterson’s Sign of the Chrysanthemum. The voice is quite folktale, timeless, and the plot is tight but with a good many twists at the end. A stunning example of Park’s deft writing comes on page 52:

“The gentle curves of the vase, its mysterious green color. The sharp angles of the plum twigs, their blackness stark amid the airy white blossoms. The work of a human, the work of nature; clay from the earth, a branch from the sky. A kind of peace spread through Tree-ear, body and mind, as if while he looked at the vase and its branch, nothing could ever go wrong in the world.” 

Random note: the cover on my copy sucked big time: a scowling androgynous Asian with a wicker backpack against a sickly orange backdrop. Yick.