Once upon a time, there was a small village

“One hill, one valley. One day at a time” (Park, back cover).

Winner of John Newbery Medal, the setting of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park illustrates a wonderful picture of Tree-ears village, Ch’ulp’o and takes us on a time-traveling adventure to a village in Korea in the middle ages. Set in a small village on the west coast of Korea during the late 12th century, everyone greeted each other with warmth. “The well-fed of the village greeted each other politely…” (Park, 3). The famous potters in the small village live in tranquility with each other, helping and taking turns to cut wood for the kiln. The village is full of resources, with edible wild mushrooms and vegetables for the poor to consume as well. As a poor, the main character in the story, Tree-ear was adopted by his friend, Crane-man, and they have been sleeping, eating, living together under the space under the bridge ever since they met. Although small and damp, the space has been a warming home for the two. “Tree-ear shared the space under the bridge with Crane-man” (Park, 7). Before the Royal emissary arrived the village, life has been simple and unpretentious for all villagers. Then, until one day when the competition arrived, Tree-ear requested himself to help Min send a pot in the capital of Korea, Songdo, he must overcome different challenges during his journey, especially in the city, Puyo, that he will have to pass by. Robbers, dangerous animals are both threats to Tree-ear. The places in A Single Shard helped the story develop in a unique way. On my book cover shows a Korean village in the 12th century, with beautiful sceneries and simple houses. Mist surrounds the place at the crack of dawn, hills and mountains far away in the background and gives us a clearer scenery of where the story takes place.

Friendships May Change a Life

“She could never talk again. Not after what happened…”


Winner of Australia’s Book of the Year award, So Much to Tell You is a novel written by John Marsden, filled with vivid characters that provide a vibrant and moving story. Each character – from the protagonist to the antagonist were all well described and helped develop the story. The emotional flow between people artfully built Marina, the main character’s story.


After her father poured acid on her and staying in the hospital for such a long time, fourteen-year-old Marina was sent to a boarding school, trying to make progress with communicating with people. Marina was sent to Warrington “because my mother can’t stand my silent presence at home.” (Marsden 1) But not until Marina started writing in a journal for English class, and her life suddenly had a dramatic turn. Every night, Marina would write down her experiences and emotions, and it was a way, and also the only way that she could express her feelings.


In the beginning, Marina lived in isolation, not caring about the society, neither aware of other’s care for her. She felt that she is different from others, and her frightening face makes most people reject her. When people try to talk to her, she doesn’t know how to respond, so all she would do is to run away and hide. She stated in her journal “I make people uncomfortable. The kind ones get angry because their kindness doesn’t work. The unkind ones get angry because they think I am attacking them.” (Marsden 11) As she excludes herself from the “eight girls in the dorm” (Marsden 16), her teachers, and classmates, she tries to write from the heart using her journal. Then, she starts to make connections with a warmhearted girl, Cathy, in her dorm, and they soon communicate through objects like gifts or notes. As the two girls get closer through little things, Marina’s desire to show her feelings to others was stronger and starts accept people. And that was when a startling change occurred in Marina’s world again. When Marina decides to give Cathy a gift to show their friendship, she was so surprised by how overjoyed Cathy was. “Cathy cried when she opened it, did you know?” Marina’s roommate Lisa said. Marina’s English teacher, Mr. Lindell, also starts to show concern to her. With their help, Marina eventually struggled through her hardest times and found back her identity. She finally changed her introverted self and became back to her normal self and had a way better relationship with the rest of her roommates.


The first friend of Marina in her dorm, Cathy, played a huge role changing and helping Marina. She yelled at Marina in the beginning. Cathy got mad and threw Marina’s undies at her and said, “And don’t think we’re going to keep feeling sorry for you all year.” (Marsden 26) However when Cathy sent a card for an apology to Marina, she starts a unique correspondence between the two girls, and as their association develops, their friendship extends. This connects to me as well. Sometimes having a rough start with someone certainly doesn’t mean that you will not become best friends with her later on. Maybe it was even the conflict between people that started them to notice and finally accept each other.


Therefore, Marina was a strong character and illustrated the story with colors. She suffered, was depressed, but she tried hard with many help from her peers and eventually thrived. Without Cathy and the nice girls in her dorm and Mr. Lindell, Marina will still be hiding in a corner of her own world. But Marina was more open in the end and even had the courage to find her dad. Hg Marina’s story, So Much to Tell You, tells how important people around us are. And how one small kind act of a friend, may completely change a person.