Tofu Ling and the Carp Banner
The following review is from Susan Lundberg, past member of the American Library Association's Newbery-Caldecott Committee, provides an inspiring preview of Tofu Ling.
"Connect with this utterly enfolding tale which sparkles with beauty in symbolism! Tofu epitomizes the universal thirst to accomplish and be of value -- and the fact that while others may happily join us, the journey is still ours. The layering of lush imagery gives us much to repeatedly explore and incorporate into thought. As a member of the Newbery-Caldecott Committee, we reveled in finding books that spoke to us with this strength and imagery. This is one of those."
From the Author: Rosanna Porter
Tofu Ling's character as a mouse provides the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. Tofu is young and small and sees the world filled with the same wonderment and excitement with each new adventure as a child would. I want children to understand that they have a lot to offer the world and the many things they can do despite their size to make this world a better place.
The symbolisms and meanings associated with the festival of Tango No Sekku provided an excellent backdrop for the story. Tofu believed the best way to exhibit his personal growth and strengthening virtues was through his preparation and accomplishments at the TaeKwonDo tournament and belt testing. When his grandfather was hurt, Tofu quickly offered to help his grandfather. He made a decision to put his grandfather's needs above his own personal wants. Children sometimes confuse needs and wants and I think that this is one of the lessons in the story. In addition, through helping his grandfather he learns about the qualities and attributes of a different generation. The teamwork between Tofu and grandfather make it possible for Tofu to be able to accomplish his personal goal and earn his green belt with pride. However, his most important accomplishment was the virtues of dedication, discipline, and concern for another that earned Tofu the right to fly his carp banner higher than he could have ever imagined.
The books in the Tofu Ling Series are meant to be a read-to-me story and that is why the vocabulary is a higher level than the average children's book. I believe that it is important that a higher vocabulary be modeled for children to cultivate their literary knowledge. As the child becomes familiar with the story it is hoped that they will be able to pick out words and phrases. Many times, parents and teachers stop reading to their children when they are able to read for themselves. I hope parents will continue to read to their children beyond the reader stage.
The story can be read over several sittings and time can be used to ask questions about the story and the characters. Parents and teachers can pose questions asking the child to suggest what might happen next in the story. Some children have trouble making the leap to chapter books because they are used to having a story told in a 15 minute time period. Hopefully, by experiencing a book over several days they will understand the gratification of anticipating the conclusion of a story.
From the Illustrator: Lynda Porter
Tofu is a small imaginative mouse, with a big and open heart. The illustrations of Tofu and the Carp Banner, inspired by the beauty, symmetry, and detailed decorative style of Asian art, transport us into Tofu's world, and the cultural significance of Tango No Sekku. Tofu's discovery of his own strengths and virtues is symbolized as the carp (Koi-Nobori) swim on their purposeful journey along the bottom of the pages. At the end of the book, a special surprise awaits the carp as they also realize the culmination of their legendary journey. As Tofu learns much about life, his world opens to the growth and emotions he will experience. The images of ancient, virtuous, and wise Samurai Warriors and Musha dolls guide him along his TaeKwonDo journey. They represent strength, perseverance, and tradition. Many Asian symbolic images are included within the illustrations and are intended to help the reader become surrounded by the meaning of Tango No Sekku. On some pages, the illustrations are interpretations of what the story is conveying rather than the action that is taking place. This is the surprise of the illustrations!
It is my hope that readers, old and young alike, will absorb the illustrations with discovery, contemplation and anticipation. As we are carried along Tofu's journey, the story and illustrations will reveal rich symbolism. It will be fun and meaningful to find all there is to see. The glossary and descriptions of Tango No Sekku will help the readers to find all of the hidden surprises in the story and the illustrations. Additional information can be found at this website. Have a wonderful journey!