A short time ago I wrote about how I find the Booker Prize to be one of the few awards that consistently recognizes truly excellent books. The other award that I think does as well is the Newbery Medal. As always, there is varying quality even among the winners of this award but I found this book to be one of the best of the best.
First of all, I always appreciate books that take me to places I've never been. Certainly, this story of twelfth century Korea does that. Additionally, it describes various processes of pottery-making, something else with which I was not very familiar.
Most importantly, however, this is a story filled with wonderful characters. Tree-ear is an orphan who lives beneath a bridge with an old man named Crane-man. Slowly, Tree-ear works his way into the family of a master potter, Min & his wife, by doing work which the old potter now finds difficult. Ultimately, Tree-ear is sent on a long journey to the capital with a sample of Min's work to obtain a royal commission but, when the samples are destroyed along the way, he can only take a shard of the former pottery to the commissioner.
This is a beautiful story which is well worth reading--and that includes any "adults" who might be reading this. Remember, if you can't read a "children's book" and enjoy it, then your child should probably not be reading it either.