Synopses & Reviews
"A haunting tale of artistic vision triumphing over adversity." —KirkusReviews
Things aren’t looking good for fourteen-year-old Mehrigul. She yearns to be in school, but she’s needed on the family farm. The longer she’s out of school, the more likely it is that she’ll be sent off to a Chinese factory . . . perhaps never to return. Her only hope is an American who buys one of her decorative baskets for a staggering sum and says she will return in three weeks for more. Mehrigul must brave storms, torn-up hands from working the fields, and her father’s scorn to get the baskets done. The stakes are high, and time is passing . . . will Mehrigul's hard work be enough?
"Although the jacket image shoes a girl at a baseball stadium, Newbery Medalist Park's (A Single Shard) Korean War-era novel is best approached not as a sports story but as a powerful attempt to grapple with loss. Margaret Olivia Fontini, named after Joe DiMaggio ("Maggie-o, get it?"), loves Brooklyn's beloved but doomed Dodgers with a passion. When a new fireman arrives at her father's station wearing his allegiance to the arch-enemy Giants on his sleeve, Maggie keeps her distance until he teachers her how to score the game, a practice Maggie embraces with gusto, believing that recording every pitch and play might actually help Dem Bums finally win. And when Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, he and Maggie write, until Jim's letters abruptly stop. Park evokes the characters and settings with her customary skill and talent for detail; she shows unusual sensitivity in writing about war and the atrocity that, Maggie learns, has traumatized Jim into silence. Readers will be moved by Maggie's hard earned revelation, that every instance of keeping score "had been a chance to hope for something good to happen," and that "hope always comes first."--Publishers Weekly
, starred review
"In 1950s Brooklyn, everyone is baseball mad. Maggie says daily prayers and follows careful rituals to "help" the Dodgers. She listens intently to games on the radio, often with her friends at the firehouse. With firefighter Jim's help, even if he is a Giants fan, she learns to score the games meticulously. Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, where his experiences lead to a severe breakdown. Maggie writes to Jim faithfully, scores Giants games for him and says heartfelt prayers for his recovery. But her efforts meet with little success. She is disillusioned and heartbroken by the war, by Jim's inability to cope and by the constant disappointments provided by the Dodgers. But she never completely gives up, and there is a ray of hope for both Jim and the Dodgers as the 1955 season begins. Park's deeply layered plot is built as slowly and as meticulously as Maggie's scoring. As Maggie matures from age nine to 13, she never loses her compassion and openhearted nature. An author's note adds historical information. A winner at every level."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"In 1951, Maggie, nine, and her older brother, Joey-Mick, are dedicated baseball fans though their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers always disappoint them at season's end. Maggie enjoys listening to the games with the firefighters in her neighborhood station; her dad worked there before an injury forced him to accept a desk job. When a new firefighter, Jim, joins the crew, he teaches Maggie how to keep score and she comes to share his admiration for Giants' great Willie Mays. Then Jim is drafted and sent to Korea. They writer to one another until his letters abruptly stop. Maggie, frustrated and worried, tries to understand the conflict by researching it at her local library and even drawing her own maps tracing the war's progress on the Korean peninsula. Eventually, she learns that Jim suffered traumatic shock after a horrific battle and has been sent home with a medical discharge. Park paints a vividly detailed account of life in 1950s Brooklyn. Maggie's perspective is authentically childlike and engaging, and her relations with her family and friends ring true. Jim's tragic experience raises difficult, troubling questions for Maggie, but her grief eventually brings her to the conclusion that "hope is what gets everything started." Baseball fans will savor her first visit to Ebbets Fields, but this finely crafted novel should resonate with a wide audience of readers.."--School Library Journal
"Park, author of the Newbery-winning A Single Shard (2001), opens this thoroughly researched novel in Brooklyn with the 1951 baseball season half gone. Nine-year-old Maggie likes to hang out at the fire station, where she listens to the Dodger games with the firemen. The new guy, Jim, teaches Maggie how to score a game, and after Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, Maggie writes him letters. When she learns that he has been traumatized and sent home unresponsive and unable to function on his own, Maggie works on a plan to bring Jim back to himself and his own life. To her credit, Park doesn't make Maggie's goal seem easy or even realistic. The involving story spans several years with only a glimmer of hope for Jim's recovery. Still, readers will find plenty to root for as they get to know determined, persistent Maggie, who feels that the first words she ever learned must have been "Wait till next year."--Booklist
Park (Seesaw Girl) molds a moving tribute to perseverance and creativity in this finely etched novel set in mid-to-late 12th century Korea. . . Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices. —Publishers Weekly, Starred
"Intrigues, danger and the same strong focus on doing what is right turn a simple story into a compelling read. . . Tree-ear's story conveys a time and place far away and long ago, but with a simplicity and immediacy that is both graceful and unpretentious. A timeless jewel." —Kirkus Reviews with Pointers
Like Park's Seesaw Girl and the Kite Fighters, this book not only gives readers insight an unfamilar time and place, but it is also a great story. —School Library Journal, Starred
This quiet, but involving story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. —Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
Park's story is alive with fascinating information about life and art in ancient Korea. —Horn Book Guide
A broken piece of pottery sets events in motion as an orphan struggles to pay off his debt to a master potter. This finely crafted novel brings 12th-century Korea and these indelible characters to life. —SLJ Best Books of the Year
Children's Books: 100 Titles NYPL
Booklist, Editor's Choice
"In her debut novel, La Valley paints a memorable picture of this faraway people. . . . A haunting tale of artistic vision triumphing over adversity."
"For many readers, this book may be their first introduction to the Uyghur people, and La Valley strongly evokes the culture and struggles of an ethnic group whose future is less than certain."
"Engages and teaches."
"An absorbing read and an excellent choice for expanding global understanding."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"The carefully honed plot and palpable family tensions...will resonate with most youngsters."
In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Chulpo, a potters' village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potters craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Mins irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Mins work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.
Both Maggie and her brother, Joey-Mick, were named after baseball great Joe DMaggio. But they arent Yankee fans. Their team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. And although Maggie doesnt play baseball, she knows the game. She can recite stats, understands complicated plays, cheers when the Dodgers winand suffers when they lose.
But even with Maggies support, the Dodgers fail to win the Series, season after season. And the letters she sends to her friend and baseball mentor, Jimserving in Koreaarent answered.
Nothing Maggie does helps. Maybe it doesnt make any difference at all.
Or maybe it does.
Jade never ventures beyond the walls of her family's Inner Court; in seventeenth-century Korea, a girl of good family does not leave home until she marries. She is enthralled by her older brother's stories about trips to the market and to the ancestral grave sites in the mountains, about reading and painting, about his conversations with their father about business and politics and adventures only boys can have. Jade accepts her destiny, and yet she is endlessly curious about what lies beyond the walls. A lively story with a vividly realized historical setting, "Seesaw Girl" recounts Jade Blossom's daring attempts to enlarge her world.
Tree-ear is fascinated by the celedon ware created in the village of Chulpo. He is determined to prove himself to the master potter, Min—even if it means making a solitary journey to present Mins work in the hope of a royal commission . . . or arriving at the royal court with nothing but a single celadon shard.
A Single Shard
Both Maggie Fortini and her brother, Joey-Mick, were named for baseball great Joe DiMaggio. Unlike Joey-Mick, Maggie doesnt play baseball—but at almost ten years old, she is a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Maggie can recite all the players statistics and understands the subtleties of the game. Unfortunately, Jim Maine is a Giants fan, but its Jim who teaches Maggie the fine art of scoring a baseball game. Not only can she revisit every play of every inning, but by keeping score she feels shes more than just a fan: shes helping her team.
Jim is drafted into the army and sent to Korea, and although Maggie writes to him often, his silence is just one of a string of disappointments—being a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in the early 1950s meant season after season of near misses and year after year of dashed hopes. But Maggie goes on trying to help the Dodgers, and when she finds out that Jim needs help, too, shes determined to provide it. Against a background of major league baseball and the Korean War on the home front, Maggie looks for, and finds, a way to make a difference.
Even those readers who think they dont care about baseball will be drawn into the world of the true and ardent fan. Linda Sue Parks captivating story will, of course, delight those who are already keeping score.
Mehrigul, 14, is a Uyghur, a tribal group scorned by the Chinese communist regime. Facing obstacles that include her embittered father and her obligations to their farm, she has three weeks to make the baskets that will help her family and offer some hope for the future.
About the Author
Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard, many other novels, several picture books, and most recently a book of poetry: Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family, and is now a devoted fan of the New York Mets. For more infromation visit www.lspark.com.