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Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! Paperback – Sep 5 2011


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Amazon.com: 17 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister July 1 2010
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you want to gauge the merit of a children's author it's easy as pie. Simply hand them a piece of paper and a pencil. Sit them down in a comfortable chair in front of a table. Now ask them to create a good easy-to-read book for children. I am personally convinced that this is probably the most difficult thing you can ask an author to do. Harder than asking them to write a romantic vampire novel. Harder than a child-friendly mystery series. Easy books (I should say GOOD easy books) are an acquired talent. Some authors whip them out so easily it shocks the senses (see: Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books). Others struggle with the format. When I heard that author Grace Lin, master of the novel, the early chapter book, and the picture book, was trying her hand at the easy reader format I was concerned. Past success is no indication of future talent. Could she pull it off? She could. Grace Lin has given us Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!, a book in the same vein as your Frog and Toad or Amelia Bedelia tales. Which is to say, a future classic.

Six very short stories tell tales about these twin girls. Ling and Ting look alike and sound alike (and sometimes even dress alike) but they are not exactly the same, in spite of the world claiming the contrary. Case in point is the story "The Haircuts" which tells the tale of how calm Ling gets her haircut without any fuss or bother, whereas fidgety Ting cannot sit still. One particularly unfortunate sneeze later and her bangs are so eclectic that the reader has no difficulty distinguishing between the girls for the rest of the book (one wonders what Ms. Lin will do if she expands this book into a series). Other stories discuss making dumplings, going to the library, using chopsticks, magic tricks, and silly storytelling.

The writing is simple, to the point, and pretty darn good. The jokes are a particular strength. Lin can show unfortunate haircuts, which some kids will find funny on the one hand. At the same time her dialogue can be very amusing (particularly to adult readers). For example, Ting comes in to see Ling wearing a big magic hat. She asks why she is wear it. " `It is a magic hat,' Ling says. `I am wearing it because I can do magic.' `You can?' Ting says. `Can you use your magic to get a smaller hat?' " I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. And in writing these stories Lin has to be amusing in as few words as possible. No mean task, but she does a fine job.

Ling and Ting also seem to exist in that ideal grown-up free world where a kid can walk to the library on her own and no one bats an eye. They create their own dumplings and have picnics without the presence of any other living being, older or otherwise. Really, the only other person who even makes an appearance in this book is the barber at the story's start. I can see a lot of kids digging this bizarre near grown-upless world.

The art is less complicated than Grace's usual fare. It's not as if Ms. Lin's artistic style is usually chock full of hidden details. But to match the simple words in Ling and Ting Grace has given the book very straightforward illustrations. Clear black outlines. Bright colors. Look carefully and you'll also see a whole host of tiny details snuck in here and there. For example, anytime the girls are casually holding a book while they talk to one another, that book is usually a previous Lin title. When Ting traipses off to the library, Ling is left at home reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. And when the two settle down to have a picnic under the great blue sky (with milk and ubiquitous chocolate cupcakes at that) copies of The Year of the Rat and The Year of the Dog are strewn about, open midway. And one of the book's details is even subtler than that. Take a gander at the dedication page. Once there you'll find that Grace has thanked seven different pairs of twins. Clearly she's done her research.

Ah, Grace Lin. What will you do when there are no more worlds to conquer? I guess the world of board books and teen novels remain (extra points if you combine the two). I would still like her to write her customary middle grade fare, but she can certainly do an easy reader or two if she puts her mind to it. And let's face it, the easy reader section of any library tends to be a little white. Now we've some diversity and a new series that's going to appeal to a bunch of kids still grasping simple sentences. Best that you buy it yourself. Lin can do what few others have mastered.

For ages 5-8.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Exactly Right July 6 2010
By Erin E. Kono - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of LING & TING. It's a delightful set of stories that illustrate the differences and affections between twin sisters. My four year old connected beautifully with the book. While not a twin, she delighted in the character's differences and related them to herself. Now when we do her hair and she fidgets she is "being just like Ting" or when she's being particularly tidy, she identifies with Ling. It's been a great addition to our library.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Readers are sure to delight in tons of humor, a bit of Chinese-American culture, and adorable illustrations Sept. 27 2010
By KidsReads - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ling and Ting toting popcorn and drinks in preparation for the entertainment to follow. One sister says, "Shh! It is starting!" and the other says, "Oh no! Are we late?" --- an appropriately delightful introduction to these tales, which are liberally and charmingly illustrated by author Grace Lin.

In the first story, a visit to the barber for a haircut reveals how much the twins look alike (at least, temporarily) and how much they are different from each other. The girls themselves are constantly pointing this out. When the people around them say, "You two are exactly the same!" they reply, "We are not exactly the same." Because Ling can sit still, her haircut is quite different from antsy Ting's, who gets a little something extra in her new hairdo.

In the next story, a magic trick goes awry...which not only is good for a laugh, but sets up the punchline for an amusing joke later on. As Ling and Ting collaborate on a batch of dumplings in another story, Ling rolls out the dough while Ting mixes up the filling. They muse that the little pastries are supposed to resemble old Chinese money. So they take extra care with their dumplings. They make a big batch, hoping that will mean lots of money. Like the young cooks themselves, the dumplings made by one girl are not quite the same as the ones made by her sister. Putting her imagination and humor on display, Ting invents nicknames for their "not exactly the same" products.

Story four is called "Chopsticks." One sister has no problem using chopsticks. She comes up with funny solutions for her struggling sister (glue? tying food on?), who finds her own solution, which manages to be unexpected, wholly rational and humorous all at the same time. A story about a library quest ties in to the magic trick tale in a couple of different and satisfying ways.

The final story is rightfully called "Mixed Up." Readers will take as much pleasure as Ling does in unraveling the scrambled-together storylines from the previous tales as narrated by creative Ting. Although Ling corrects her sister on many plot points, she admits that the way Ting sums up the conclusion is perfect:

"...They were not exactly the same," Ting says, "but they always stayed together."

"Well," Ling says, "at least you got the ending right."

With the story over, we get another little bonus on the closing page of the book. Savvy readers will know by the clue in the hairstyle that Ting is asking her sister "Was that the end?" Ling replies, "No, this is!"

The appeal of this winning early chapter book is its pairing of the irresistible fascination of identical twins with a celebration of individuality. Readers are sure to delight in tons of humor, a bit of Chinese-American culture, and adorable illustrations in these good-natured, lively tales. It all adds up to an enjoyable read for youngsters (or the lucky adults who read to them).

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
great book! Sept. 15 2012
By Barbara Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My 5 year old twin daughters (who are not alike at all) LOVE this book. Especially the story about haircuts.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
WONDERFUL LITTLE READING BOOK. Not much to dislke about this one at all. Delightful Oct. 2 2011
By D. Blankenship - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have to tell you that I got quite a kick out of this little well written and well illustrated book. We have several sets of twins in our family and the author certainly knows her subject matter.

This is a small collection, six in all, of short little stories featuring a set of twins; Ling and Tine. This work is a recipient of the Theodor Seusse Geisel Honor Award and rightfully so. It is an absolute delight. The book is as easy read (The word count is 857. Guided reading level is K and the Number of Dolch Sight Words is 108). Each short story features the adventures of two very close twin girls of oriental origin.

The word play is wonderful and kids with catch on quite quickly. The author has interlocked the stories to a certain extent which will be just enough of a challenge to the little ones to make it interesting for them. Being able to relate one story to the next, or at least the ability to do this, is an important part of the reading and learning process. This work is ideal for that.

These are two independent little girls who actually think for themselves. I love the way these two interact. Like the entire line of Passport to Reading books, this one has been designated a certain level. In this case it is a three which means that it can be read independently by the targeted age group.

I like the way the author has made the point that even though these are identical twins, they are indeed different!

"At diner, Ling cannot eat.

`Chopsticks are tricky,' Ling says.

`They are hard to use.'

`Chopsticks are not tricky,' Ting says.

`They are not hard to use.'

`Chopsticks are hard for me to use,'

Ling says. `I cannot eat. My food falls off my chopsticks.'"

The girls explore various ways of keeping Ling's food on the chopsticks but finally decide the easiest way around the dilemma is simply for Ling to use a fork.

Bright bold colors are used in the illustrations which are quite simple yet at the same time include everything that needs to be included. They are quite eye catching.

Overall, this is an excellent book and most certainly should be including in any reading library.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks


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