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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ling & Ting, written and illustrated by Grace Lin. Little Brown, Hachette. 2010. $$17.99 ages 4 and up

"Soon all the dumplings are done.

"Our dumplings do not look the same," Ling says. "My dumplings are smooth. Your dumplings are fat."

"Yours are dump-Lings," Ting says. "Mine are dump-Tings!""

It has been proven by scientists that identical twins are not exactly the same. As they grow and experience the world in which they live and are influenced by the events and people in their lives, they become even less so. Ling and Ting are out to prove those scientific findings true...they are experts, as they are 'identical twins'. 

They remind us of that fact in each of the six, short stories in this charming book. A visit to the barbershop seems sure to make them look exactly alike, even though they know they are not. A sneeze from Ting at a most unexpected time ensures a difference.  A magic trick goes awry when Ting has a sudden lapse in memory. Even making dumplings (as noted above) show marked differences in their character and attention to detail. While trying to eat the dumplings with chopsticks, Ling has difficulty. Ting does not. After a number of hilarious attempts to solve the problem, Ling resorts to my stand-by...the fork! Works every time for me!

While searching for a library book for herself and and her sister, Ting is reminded of the card trick fiasco and rushes home to tell her sister, forgetting that she promised she would bring a book for Ling about dogs. OOOPS!  In the final chapter, they return to the mixed-up story of their life so far. The ending is the only part that Ting gets exactly right...'They were not exactly the same, but they always stayed together.'

This is a wonderful early reader with all the right ingredients...appealing characters, humor, dialogue, storytelling and funny chapter endings. Young readers will soon be sharing this lively and lovely book, just as the sisters share love, laughter and story. The illustrations are framed and helpful for new readers, giving them context for the tales told and inviting characters whose individuality is evident, despite their apparent similarities. Vivid colors and matching dresses add interest and clarity for each of the interconnected vignettes.

As early readers discover this wonderful book they will, like me, eagerly anticipate the next one. That is perhaps the most meaningful praise.

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