Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 21, 2020

Book Giveaway: THE OCEAN CALLS by Tina Cho

Author Tina Cho has a new picture book titled, THE OCEAN CALLS, illustrated by Jess X. Snow and hitting book shelves on August 4th. Tina has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Tina and Jess!


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.


The Ocean Calls started with a tweet on Twitter about haenyeo in 2016. I had never heard of these diving women on Jeju Island who used NO breathing equipment. They dive and sell their catch and have been doing this for hundreds of years, a tradition that was usually passed on to the next generation. And here they were in South Korea, like me. I researched the Internet and wrote a first draft.

My critique groups loved the story & concept. But they suggested adding a more lyrical feel, character arc, and emotions. To get the details just right, I decided I must see these women with my own eyes. So, for my spring break (I’m a teacher), my family flew on a thirty-minute plane ride to Jeju Island, off the southern tip of South Korea.

A writer can research as much as she/he can with books and the computer, but to experience your topic takes it to a whole new level. We drove from beach to beach, asking locals where to find the haenyeo. I stood on the shore and took pictures and recorded them. And we were able to ask questions to some. I was amazed at these elderly women. Most of them were between ages 50 to mid-80s. If you go to my website, you’ll be able to see some photos from my vacation.

These new details made my next drafts richer. In fall of 2018 my agent sold this story to Joanna Cárdenas of the new imprint Kokila with Penguin Random House. She loved the intergenerational story which showed the athleticism and strength of women and girls, the cultural tradition and community.

Illustrator Jess X. Snow’s beautiful illustrations enhanced the story even more. Kokila shared each step of the publishing process with me. I shared my photos with them so they could share with Jess. And my family even went back to Jeju the following spring break for more photos and to answer some questions we had.

I think most of the work I did with my editor was on back matter. And it paid off. This book has received FOUR starred reviews, one in which did praise the back matter.

I have enjoyed every moment of this journey, and I look forward to sharing the book with readers!


Tina Cho is the author of four picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books August 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle August 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World ( Harvest House June 2020), and The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House Aug. 4, 2020). Her lyrical middle grade graphic novel, The Tune Without Words, debuts from Harper Alley in 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 teaches at an international school and writes for the children’s and educational markets. Though she grew up in Iowa, she is now living in South Korea.

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.



Jess X. Snow is an Asian-Canadian film director, artist, cinematographer and poet currently based in Brooklyn, NY who makes work in the USA and China. They hold a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and is currently a MFA thesis student at NYU Graduate Film.

Through film, large-scale murals, children’s books and community art education, they are working to build a future where LGBTQ+ and migrant people of color may see themselves heroic on the big screen and city walls & discover in their own bodies; a sanctuary for healing and collective liberation. As an illustrator, their work in The Ocean Calls, (Kokila/Penguin Randomhouse 2020) received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

Tina, Thank you for sharing your book and its journey with us. I love that you are sharing a story from Korean culture and Jess did a wonderful job illustrating the book. Good luck with the book. 

Tina is having a pre-order giveaway contest on her blog: You can win book swag or a picture book critique.

You can also find information on how to order a signed copy.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congratulations, Tina! Can’t wait to read this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful these women! Can’t wait to read more about them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. how incredibly beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Would love to win this one. Love mermaids! My dad swore he saw them from his ship in WW2.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so excited to read this book. What a gorgeous concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This book looks wonderful! Who doesn’t love the ocean? Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Location research is one of the best things about being an author.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congrats, Tina and Jess. Your book looks like a fantastic read.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice work, Tina and Jess! I’m looking forward to this wonderful book!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations Tina and Jess! Absolutely fascinating! What a tribute to these AWEsome women! Intrigued, and after visiting Tina’s website, l came across this UNESCO short film. I can see why you felt the need to write this story, Tina. Enjoy…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the illustrations! A really nice use of a consistent color palette. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest too:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congrats, Tina! Looking forward to seeing your book soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! This looks like a fantastic book. I cannot wait to read it! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations! I’ve seen the starred reviews and after seeing the spreads you shared, I see why! Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congrats, Tina and Jess! Looks like a beautiful book.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Can’t wait to meet these women through your book, Tina and Jess!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. These illustrations are super cool. Amazing!
    We are DNA Design Studio. If you have some time, feel free to visit our page.
    There are some works you might like. Thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. So beautiful! Can’t wait to read and admire my very own copy!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This book is so interesting! I love the fact that you took a field trip to see these amazing women! And readers will benefit from your research. Wonderful! Can’t wait to read it. Congrats and best wishes!

    Tweeting this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Congratulations! The cover art and the title just pull you right down into the water.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you, everyone, for your comments!


  22. This looks amazing! Both story and illustrations! Thanks for the chance. I was able to retweet!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Congrats–this looks like a fantastic and gorgeous book! I’ve heard of the haenyeo, but never realized that they were grandmothers=super intriguing. Kathy, I follow your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Very colorful & pretty. positive DOT ideas DOT 4you AT gmail DOT com


  25. Congratulations, Tina. I am REALLY looking forward to THE OCEAN CALLS.


  26. […] Writing and Illustrating website. You can read more from Kathy and check out her post at . Thank you, Kathy and […]


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