Tuesday, December 08, 2009

TOFU QUILT and a couple more cool teachers

Tofu Quilt
by Ching Yeung Russell
Lee & Low Books, Inc., 2009
Review copy provided by the publisher

This is the story of a girl growing up in a culture that values boys. Luckily, her mother scrapes together the money to send her daughter to school, where Yeung Ying falls in loves with books and stories and writing.

This is the story of a writer being born -- it is about her false starts and first steps and her perseverance and her dream.

This is the story of the impact a few good writing teachers can make on a writer's early life. The poem, "mr. hon," (did I mention, this is an autobiographical novel in verse?) tells about Yeung Ying's 4th grade teacher:

He reads us
a Chinese translation of a story
about three American boys from
a long time ago,
who rode a raft on the Mississippi River.
And Mr. Hon is the first teacher
who displays my stories
marked, "Great work!"
on the classroom bulletin board
even though

Not until her seventh grade teacher does Yeung Ying get encouragement again, when she hears, "Your story really comes to life" and "You write very well./ Keep trying./ You can be a writer someday."

I nominate Mr. Hon and Mr. Lee for inclusion on our list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature. (We are up to 128 Cool Teachers. Has there been a Cool Teacher in a book you read recently?)

For a fabulous review of Tofu Quilt, complete with mouth-watering photos, head on over to Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.


  1. Yay for Tofu Quilt! I love Mr. Hon and Mr. Lee -- definitely cool teachers.

    Thanks for the link love, Mary Lee.

  2. Ooh, sounds like a good one! I hope my fourth graders remember their writing teacher :)

  3. In "Peace, Locomotion" there's a whole subplot about how a mean teacher silenced Locomotion's voice - telling him he couldn't be a poet if he hadn't been published yet... and then he gets a different teacher, who believes in him, and then HE starts to believe in himself again, too. The book is by Jacqueline Woodson, and the good teacher's name was Miss Alina... but she tells the kids they can just call her "Alina." It's a beautiful, sad, powerful, and ultimately hopeful book.

  4. Lee, thanks for the heads up about (Miss) Alina in PEACE, LOCOMOTION. I read that book, but I guess my radar wasn't up for the teacher. I'll go add her now!


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