Ling & Ting Share a Birthday

Grace Lin. Little, Brown, $15 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-18405-2
Lin continues to work wonders within the early reader format in twins’ Ling and Ting’s birthday-themed second outing. In six stories, the girls receive birthday shoes, shop for presents, bake cakes, make wishes, open their gifts, and read a story. Despite working with a limited vocabulary, Lin infuses the twins’ every interaction with personality and understated humor, while underscoring the girls’ individuality. When baking, “Ling reads the cookbook very carefully. She mixes butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Ting does not read the cookbook carefully. She mixes butter, sugar, and eggs.” After the girls exchange gifts, they both hope the other will share hers—and don’t need to wait long: “Ling and Ting like their gifts. But they like the other’s gift a bit more.” Lin’s utterly cheerful, vintage-inspired gouache illustrations provide many opportunities for children to spot the differences between the twins, and the story’s final chapter, in which the girls read about the birthday adventures of a pair of twins named Ming and Sing (who aren’t nearly as good at sharing) is a triumph of metafiction. Ages 6–9. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 09/10/2013
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