Subscribe to The Horn Book

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

lingandtingThis is one of our two easy readers (a.k.a. early readers) for our second class. We talked about the difference between picture books and easy readers. How well do you think this book works? Clearly it’s for somewhat more fluent readers than the Elephant and Piggy books. Do the situations match the age of the average new reader? What if a somewhat older child is learning to read at this level? Easy readers may not look as flashy as picture books, but in some ways they are more challenging to create. The author and illustrator must perform a balancing act to make the book inviting yet not intimidating. Imagine trying to create specific and engaging characters using very few words and clean, simple illustrations.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Carli Spina says:

    I think that some aspects of this book work quite well, particularly as an introduction to chapter books. I liked the fact that each of the chapters could stand on its own (and in fact had its own color theme) because I think this would make it more approachable and less overwhelming to those who are just learning to read. At the same time, I liked the fact that there were references back to the earlier stories at the end, since this helps to introduce readers to the idea of a longer book where the chapters tie together.
    The story is probably appropriate for many children at this reading level, but it is a good example of the fact that not all easy chapter books are necessarily appropriate for all readers. An older child who did not enjoy to read or who was struggling to read at their grade level would likely be put off by this story since it focuses on two young girls and lacks some of the structure and conflict of books aimed for older readers.

  2. Nancy Fan says:

    Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! is a delightful book that seemed to me an easy reader that accomplishes a lot. As Carli pointed out, it introduces the idea of multiple episodes of stories in a chapter format, but makes each bit digestible. While at some points illustrations just reinforce the text, there are also places, such as the occurrence of the unevenly-cut bangs, where the pictures take precedence in divulging the story. After all, the very nature of identical twins is very visual concept. While picture book characteristics like repetition are still used, there is more character development and abstract word play, such as the pun on the girls’ names, “dump-ling” and “dump-ting.” I think this book would work particularly well with, for example, Chinese second language learners of English, who feel more confident in following a story with some familiar elements. This book also fits well in a multicultural curriculum, where older readers, no longer having trouble tackling the technical text, can still benefit by the content through learning about an less familiar culture. It seems this book might find a more receptive audience among girls than boys.

  3. Felicity says:

    I really enjoyed reading this picture book, as I was able to see the storyline very clearly and appreciated the episodic organization that delineates the every day interactions between the two girls. The book also brings into attention the idea of identity and how the girls discover their differences, which started off as just a different haircut to many smaller actions. In the end, they were able to resolve and stay together despite/because of their differences. For the English-speaking young audience, they also learn about the girls lives through culture activities, such as making dumplings.

  4. Kim Fernandes says:

    This book is beautiful! I particularly enjoyed the message at the end (and then also the little illustration after the end of the book), and I think it can be used with young readers in a variety of ways. This is definitely an easy chapter book for children who are starting to develop their vocabulary, and like my colleagues noted above, gives them the opportunity either to learn about a culture that is different from their own or to see themselves reflected in the book. I think Nancy makes a valuable point, though, about the book fitting in better with girls perhaps than with boys, and would be interested to see if there are similar books (or books with similar messages) that would appeal to boys.

  5. Xinyi Qi says:

    This book didn’t really surprise me until the second to last story “The Library book” where I realized that all stories are related and intertwined with each other. As we can see, every story is building upon some elements in the previous stories such as the haircut accident of Ting, the forgotten card of Ting, the chopstick challenge for Ling and the story book borrowed by Ting. At first glance, the readers will perceive 6 stories as separate ones but as soon as they starting the final “Mixed Up” story, they will find the connections within this series really amazing. From a child’s point of view, the connection designed by the author within the stories is also a good way to help her/him better understand all the content through a build-on process.

  6. Corinne Fischer says:

    I agree with you about the delightful last chapter of Ling and Ting. It seemed as though the only consistency between the chapters was the presence of the same characters, until the last chapter where details from each chapter came together. I see this book being used with typically developing readers in late 1st grade and early to mid-2nd grade. It is a great introduction to chapter books and give students a boost of self-confidence (in my experience kids love to announce that they’re reading a chapter book). By incorporating pieces of previous chapters into the last chapter of Ling and Ting, the author provides places fro students to exercise the reading comprehension strategies of making connections and comprehension monitoring. It is key to practice reading comprehension skills along side fundamental skills such as sight word recognition and decoding in order to develop successful readers and Grace Lin allows students to do just that in “Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!”

  7. Ashley Szofer says:

    I really liked Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! because it reminded me of something i might have enjoyed as a child. Although my sister and I look nothing alike, my grandparents always made a point to buy us the exact same presents to make sure neither of us felt jipped. While as an adult, I can completely understand why they did this, as a child, I felt like it wasn’t fair that we were always “the girls” because we were really different, even as children. I could see this being a very relevant not just for twins, but for anyone with a same-sex sibling growing up that always get grouped together.

    I thought there were interesting cultural aspects, like the reference to old Chinese money, and enjoyed the little nuances of the book like Ting forgets what she was supposed to get for Ling when she remembers what her magic card was. It shows a positive message of family and togetherness, while celebrating individuality at the same time. There is a lot that could be discussed about this in the classroom, and it’s a great read for kids just learning about chapter books because it is very manageable, with pictures that illustrate exactly what is happening in the story itself.

  8. Zohra Manjee says:

    I really enjoyed Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same because is balances their similarities with what makes them unique. I think the first page of the story sets an important theme because it highlights their challenges with being seen as exactly the same, since they are not, but ironically are thinking the exact same thing. This underscores that even though they look and behave differently, there are shared experiences and understandings that are mutual and undeniable. As this is an easy reader, I appreciated the use of italics and bolding to draw attention to certain key words/actions. Also, the balance between words and pictures on each page, in terms of the amount of space each takes up helps young readers focus on reading with the pictures as a guide/reinforcement.
    As a chapter book, I appreciated how each of the stories could stand on their own, but were still referenced later. I liked how each chapter had a cover page with a picture and title previewing the story, its own challenge or dilemma, and a resolution or happy ending, which was achieved either the words of Ling and Ting or the final picture. The fact that the last chapter incorporates the main themes from previous chapters by mixing them up is important because it offers another narrative that ultimately highlights the same principal of Ling and Ting staying together and appreciating each of their own strengths. Also, in this last chapter, I found it interesting that the picture area changes from neat squares to more bubble shapes when illustrating scenes that are being mixed up or imagined. As Corinne mentioned, this last chapter has the potential for practicing reading comprehension and making connections, which is a critical step from moving to reading and understanding words and sentences to enjoying longer chapter books with more complex characters and story lines.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind