Tofu Ling Sets Sail(c) 2010, 32 pgs., hardcover, $12.98
Tofu Ling Sets Sail is the fourth installment in the Tofu Ling Book Series. Tofu Ling and his cousin, Kenji Nakamura, are invited to visit their uncle, Captain Hiroshi Nakamura, who is a fisherman in the Pacific Northwest. While they are visiting their uncle, he gives them a little skiff to refurbish. Their uncle tells them that he will let them have the little boat and sail it around the islands once they repair it. They learn about teamwork, friendship, sailing, and a special sailors' song. Uncle Hiroshi tells them it is a very special song the sailors sing to help guide them back to the docks when they have been out at sea for the day. The night before Tofu and Kenji's maiden voyage on their boat, they decide to sleep onboard so that they can set sail early the next morning. Unfortunately, the wrong knot is tied at the dock and the sleeping boys are carried out to sea on the tide. When they awaken they realize they have been adrift all night. Soon they remember the song and sing it to help guide them safely home and past the scary dragon.
From the Author: Rosanna Porter
Tofu Ling Sets Sail is a story about friendship, families, and teamwork. The idea for the story came to me while sailing around the San Juan Islands in Washington. I remember the first time I saw my "Dragon" island. When we rounded a corner of one of the islands, I saw what looked like a huge dragon with his head in the water and large plums of steam coming from its nostrils. From then on, I named the island "Dragon" island and knew that I only needed to steer past the island, around the rocks of another island, and soon I would see my dock in the distance.
I enjoyed writing the lyrics and music for Tofu Ling Sets Sail. I hope children will sing the verse as each page is turned. The complete song is on this website in the Free Activities section. Click on this link to go to the pdf file.
The book is 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. The size and orientation of the book was selected so that while reading the story, Lynda's breathtaking illustrations surround the reader to create a full experience of beauty and literature.
Although the story can be read at one sitting, I hope that adults/parents will read the book over several days. Breaking the story down into several sittings allows children to contemplate what will happen next and learn that stories do not have to culminate in fifteen minutes. When children reach the third and fourth grade many of them struggle with the concept of chapter books. This book is a wonderful step into chapter books for younger readers. It is my hope that this will also help them to understand the concept of a theme developing over several days of reading.
I also hope adults/parents will continue to read to children even after they have learned to read. Time spent reading together is priceless.
From the Illustrator: Lynda Porter
Tofu Ling Sets Sail brings a new opportunity for illustration when Tofu visits his Uncle Hiroshi Nakamura in the Pacific Northwest. The setting suggests a unique color palette which reflects the water, islands, mist and glittering sunshine of the Puget Sound area.
Tofu and Kenji discover clues from the song as they sail. They unveil landforms, sea life, sounds and hidden images on their journey. The illustrations capture the optical illusions of the hidden images for eyes young and old to seek and find. The element of surprise in discovery is intended, just as the melody and clues in the song carry us along on the voyage.
Rosanna's creative approach to the story suggests heightened use of the senses. I hope that the illustrations are fascinating to the senses and encourage the reader to experience the story on many levels, as the details are discovered.