Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ling & Ting

Grace Lin, author of numerous picture books as well as three middle-grade novels, writes and illustrates her first early reader about a pair of identical twins who are most definitely not exactly alike.

One of my childhood friends wished she could have been born a twin.  I could never understand her strange desire. Why would I want there to be two of me, someone else who exactly like me? This concern doesn't matter one whit to Lin's characters, Ling and Ting, who are confident about their individuality. 

In the first story, Ling sits patiently as her hair is trimmed. Ting is fidgety. She twists and turns in her seat. Then an inopportune sneeze guarantees that she'll look different than her sister and she ends up with a giant gap in her bangs. (In a nice detail the art shows a bandage on Ting's knee, indicating that she's accident-prone.)

There are six stories in all, and each one showcases Ling and Ting's individuality and unique ways of reacting to events. The girls dabble in magic tricks, make dumplings (Ling's are smooth ones, Ting's fat), eat them (Ting with chopsticks, Ling with a fork), and visit the library. In the final chapter Ting tells Ling a story in which she cleverly incorporates--and mixes up--all the book's previous events. 

An early reader doesn't need to be a twin to enjoy this book. She just needs to be one-of-a-kind, like Ling and Ting.

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