Ling & Ting by Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) is a story about twins. Drawn to look identical, Ling and Ting are nonetheless, as the title indicates “not exactly the same.” The difference is established early with the first story in the book called “The Haircuts.” The girls’ personalities come through in the way they handle their haircuts, and the results will mark them throughout the rest of the book. Readers will learn how to identify the girls despite their matching dresses and similar names.
Lin has arranged this book as a series of tales about the girls that build on each other. Starting with “Haircuts,” there are six stories altogether that work not only to establish the difference between the girls but also to illustrate their friendship and sisterly affection. Among my favorites was “Chopsticks” and “The Library Book.” In “Chopsticks,” Ting prefers to use chopsticks while Ling does not. Although Ting tries to help Ling use them, in the end Ling comes up with her own solution which, predictably enough, is to use a fork! In “The Library Book,” the girls’ different tastes in reading are revealed: Ting prefers fairy tales while Ling wants a book about dogs…
Lin has created a delightful and playful collection of stories here that is engaging to read. It is perfect for anyone looking for good books for children about twins or indeed sisters. Her colorful and distinctive illustrations make the book a visual delight as well; Ling and Ting are vibrantly and expressively depicted in the pictures. Of particular appeal to a young reader – as I discovered in reading this book with my daughter – was distinguishing between the two girls since they look so much alike with such similar names and are always dressed the same.
Lin is an accomplished writer of children’s books, and Ling & Ting, her first foray into Early Readers, is yet another example of her finely tuned skill. She is PaperTigers’ nominee for the Astrid Lindgren award for 2011.