This is a really interesting story of a boy in twelfth-century Korea, which was dominated by the pottery trade (who knew? Not me!). It is a beautifully balanced story: the innocence and naïveté of the main character, Tree-ear, is balanced by the wisdom of his mentor, Crane-man; the gruff roughness of Min is balanced by the kindness and hospitality of Min’s wife.
I love seeing Tree-ear learn and grow through his experiences, and I especially enjoy how he processes and uses the wisdom Crane-man gives him.
A few favorite selections:
“It is a worse foolishness to do something foolish and then to be unable to laugh at it later!”
“Of all the problems you may meet on your journey, it will be people who are the greatest danger. But it will also be people to whom you must turn if you are ever in need of aid. Remember this, my friend, and you will travel well.”
“We are afraid of the things we do not know – just because we do not know them.”
And my absolute favorite: the scene in which Tree-ear tells Crane-man that he must take the months-long journey to the emperor’s palace.
“‘I am going to – to Songdo… It seems too far away, to say it.’
‘No, my friend,’ Crane-man said. ‘It is only as far as the next village. A day’s walk, on your young legs.’
Tree ear frowned, mystified. But before he could speak, Crane-man continued. ‘Your mind knows that you are going to Songdo. But you must not tell your body. It must think one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.’”
This idea has really come home to me this week. My husband had a collision during a pick-up soccer game and shattered his cheekbone… We spent the weekend in the hospital, then he had reconstructive surgery, and he will be out of commission for multiple weeks and have to follow up with about four different doctors.
Meanwhile, I’m in a first-job-out-of-college that isn’t exactly lucrative, and he’s still a student. We really don’t have the money for this. So the idea of taking things a day at a time, not letting my spirit grow weary before even beginning this whole process, is a helpful one.
Last of all, a teaser: I already loved the book, but the final three paragraphs made the book for me. You should read it and find out!