It would take a cold, cold person to resist the charm* of Grace Lin’s Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same. Ling and Ting are twins who are, as the title implies, similar but not completely the same. In the first story, The Haircuts, we see Ting get terribly butchered bangs because she can’t sit still, which gives readers a handy visual clue to which girl is which for the rest of the book.
In the five stories that follow, Lin skillfully shows us how the girls are both different and similar through words, actions, and illustration. Ting emerges as forgetful (she spoils her sister’s card trick by forgetting her card) and fanciful (when Ling has trouble with chopsticks, Ting suggests glue and string as solutions), while Ling proves to be much more grounded and responsible when she closes her dumplings tight and logically uses a fork when she has trouble with chopsticks. However, both girls are great at working together and helping each other solve problems.
Lin ties up the book neatly by having Ting re-tell the preceding incidents in her own special Ting way, which is a perfect way to close out a book of interlocking episodes. This is a great book for emerging readers who enjoy realistic fiction with gentle humor. Highly recommended.
Reviewed from a library copy.
*Is charm one of those sloppy words reviewers aren’t supposed to use?