The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

Dayeon (pronounced dah-yeon) 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. (Source)

Author: Tina Cho

Illustrator: Jess X. Snow

Author Tina Cho writes for the educational and children’s literature. She lived in South Korea with her husband and two children while teaching at an international school. She currently lives in the United States, in her home state of Iowa.

Illustrator Jess X. Snow is a writer/director, multi-disciplinary artist, cultural worker and poet, who creates genre-defying inter-generational stories from a queer, non-binary Asian immigrant lens. Spanning large scale augmented reality murals, wheat-pasted posters, children’s books, and narrative films, their work and process explore how care and intimacy can help us imagine worlds outside of borders and empire, and end cycles of institutional and domestic violence.

Illustration from the book. Features two divers underwater attached to a floating net by cords. Sea life surrounds them, including a school of fish, seaweed, and a shark. Bubbles surround one diver's flipper to make the shape of a mermaid tail.
Illustration from the book. (Source)
Excerpt from the book. Features illustration of protagonist Dayeon and her grandmother wading out into the water in diving gear. The text reads: "Dayeon looked into Grandma's sweet eyes, swallowed her fear, and nodded. Side by side, they walked. When Dayeon could no longer feel the ocean bottom, she locked hands with Grandma. 'Take a deep breath, calm your mind, and then we'll dive.'"
Excerpt from the book (Source)

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