Reading level: Ages 6-9
Pages: 48 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0316024525

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Behind the Story
Ling and Ting


Ling and Ting is an early reader about twin Chinese-American girls. Why twins?

Well, originally, they were triplets. This book actually has been brewing for many years. Just like how Year of the Dog was an homage to the Betsy books, this early reader began as an homage to the Flicka, Dicka and Ricka books Grace used to read.

(Grace had to paint Ling & Ting in the same dotted dresses!)

But even though Grace's vision was for identical girls, she felt a tad uncomfortable-- would she be encouraging that whole "All Asians look alike" stereotype? So she put the story away and let the idea sit and sit. For years.

And then in 2005, a group in Portland, ME put on a play of the Ugly Vegetables. There, Grace met the cutest Asian twin girls she had ever seen. As she watched them share cookies but eat them in completely different ways, a light went off. Suddenly, she knew how the book should be written and that she needed to give the early reader another shot.

So Grace went home and scratched and rewrote and resketched, with a different outlook. The shift was subtle, but important--as it finally justified (to her) why the characters had to be identical.

Because, whereas the theme of many of Grace's other books have been how even when people look different, there are many similarities--the theme of this book is how when people look the same, there can be many differences.

*See the "original twins" HERE!
*Read about the challenges Grace faced while writing an early reader HERE!