4 out of 5 stars.
Most of what I review on this blog is new-ish, but this one was so neat I just had to share. I found it, as I find a large amount of my books, shelving and shelf-reading at my library. The cover caught my eye with a depiction of a graceful green vase, and the Newberry Award sticker sealed the deal.
Tree-ear is an orphan in 12th century Korea who, when not begging and scrounging to feed himself and his friend Crane-man, spies on the potters in his village famous for their celadon coloured pottery. He accidentally gets himself in debt to the most skilled master and goes to work off what is owed, hoping that he will be accepted as an apprentice eventually. Traditionally, potters only pass on their craft to their sons, but Tree-ear is willing to work as hard as he has to to succeed. When court officials come to the village to choose the potter that will receive a commission from the royals, he hopes that this is the chance he has prayed for.
Like all Newberry books, the writing quality is excellent. The story and time period come alive almost immediately and the people are real and vibrant. The descriptions are poetic and lyrical and the care put into the language used in the book should be apparent to most children.
Tree-ear will be an empathetic protagonist for most children as he is both brave and artistic and his struggle to fulfill his dream and find himself a place is universal.He is willing to work for what he wants, but he can be a little sulky at times, just like a real kid. His love of his craft is evident and his personality shines through.
This is a great story for anyone old enough to understand it. It is thoughtful and inspiring.