The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Hardcover)

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story By Tina Cho, Jess X. Snow (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Tina Cho, Jess X. Snow (Illustrator)
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Fall 2020 Kids Indie Next List

“Tradition stands the test of time in this lovely story about the haenyeo — older Korean women who dive for abalone and other sea treasures, and are known locally as mermaids. Dayeon longs to be brave and strong like her diver Grandma, and through patience and experience learns to love the gifts of the sea. This beautiful tale of bravery and familial bonding rooted in matriarchal love will touch hearts while educating readers about a revered aspect of another culture.”
— Melissa Posten, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO


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.

About the Author

Tina Cho teaches at an international school and writes for the children's and educational markets. Though she grew up in Iowa, she now lives in South Korea. In her free time, she enjoys playing her electronic piano, careful not to bother her many neighbors in the high-rise apartment building she lives in with her family.

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.

Praise For…

Fall 2020 Kids’ Indie Next List 
Kirkus Best Children's Books 2020
Junior Library Guild selection
2021-22 International School of Beijing Panda Book Award
Freeman Award Honor
MARYLAND Black-Eyed Susan Book Award
WASHINGTON DC Capitol Choices
WISCONSIN Picture This!
“Use this sweet story about family tradition, trust, and confidence to support STEM units on weather and tides, sea life, and ecology.” —Booklist, starred review

“In Cho and Snow’s celebration of this fascinating tradition, the risks and rewards are given only to the worthy—which takes practice, courage, and a grandmother’s love.” —Kirkus, starred review   

“Sturdy prose by Cho (Rice from Heaven) highlights a segment of Korean society whose women preserve a vibrant tradition of enterprise, stamina, and cooperation, and Grandma shines as a kind of generous real-life superhero.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review  

”[A] must-have for any collection.” —School Library Journal, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781984814869
ISBN-10: 1984814869
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: August 4th, 2020
Pages: 48
Language: English