This is a 2002 Newberry Medal Award Winner in Juvenile fiction. It is a story of a 10-year old, homeless orphan named Tree-ear in 12th century Korea. He lives under a bridge with another homeless man, Crane-man, who has taken care of him for years. They struggle to eat and stay warm but this 10-year old has a secret indulgence...he goes and watches a master potter work at his wheel. One day, he finds the potter gone but notices several of his pieces drying on a shelf. He goes in for a closer look and when the potter finds him there, he startles and knocks a valuable piece off the shelf and it breaks.
To pay the debt, he works for the potter but once his debt is paid, asks to stay on and work for him in hopes of one day becoming his apprentice. But in Korea, apprenticeships are passed down father to son and this orphan realizes he'll be left out once more.
This is a wonderful, easy read about love, hard-work, patience and perseverance. It is uplifting literature.