Author Feature: Tina Cho

Tina is the author of Rice from Heaven, a picture book from Little Bee Books August 2018, Korean Celebrations, a nonfiction picture book from Tuttle, August 2019, My Breakfast with Jesus, a nonfiction picture book from Harvest House June 2, 2020, The Ocean Calls: A Mermaid Haenyeo Story from Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House August 4, 2020, and her first middle grade graphic novel in verse, The Other Side of Tomorrow by Harper Alley Fall 2023. 

She also wrote The Girl’s Guide to Manners (and all that great stuff) by Legacy Press Kids 2014, 
over 100 guided reading books from Lakeshore Learning, Compass Media, Oxford University Press, Literacy Planet, and The Moffatt Girls. An e-book Seasons of the Asian Pear Tree, was published by Schoolwide 2015. She taught at an international school in South Korea and writes for the children’s and educational markets. She currently moved back to the states, her home state of Iowa.

Tina received a M.S. in Education (Effective, Teaching, Learning, & Leadership) from Drake University and a B.S. in Elementary Education from Faith Baptist Bible College.

You can listen to her pronounce her name at Teaching Books.

The Ocean Calls

A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world.

Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.

Tina Cho’s The Ocean Calls, with luminous illustrations by muralist Jess X. Snow, is a classic in the making.

Illustrator: Jess X. Snow is a queer migrant Asian Canadian artist, filmmaker, and Pushcart-nominated poet based in Brooklyn. They are working to build a future where migrants and people of color see themselves as heroes on the big screen, city walls, and pages of children’s books and feel empowered to create their own art. By merging community arts activism, healing practices, and film in their stories, Jess hopes to encourage others to discover sanctuaries inside themselves.

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