Thursday, May 31, 2007

new project!

Well, I'm thrilled to announce that my new pet project (which I alluded to here) has officially been acquired! Yippee!

This project will be my first early reader--think along the lines of Frog and Toad, Amelia Bedelia. So not a picturebook, like Lissy's Friends and not a novel like Year of the Dog. A whole different beastie for an age group in between those two types. Very exciting!

Ling and Ting will be an early reader about twin Chinese-American girls (it also marks my first Asian book that does not feature my family members!). 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 I used to read.
(I had to paint Ling & Ting in the same dotted dresses!)

But even though my vision was for identical girls, I felt a tad uncomfortable-- would I be encouraging that whole "All Asians look alike" stereotype? So I 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, I met the cutest Asian twin girls I've ever seen. As I watched them share cookies but eat them in completely different ways, a light went off in my head. Suddenly, I knew how the book should be written and that I needed to give the early reader another shot.

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

Because, whereas the theme of many of my other books have been how even when people look different, there are many similiarities--the theme of this book is how when people look the same, there are many differences.

And that is the story behind the story of Ling and Ting! It's strange how books with the fewest and simplest words seem to take the longest to produce. In fact, I think this blog post might be longer than the actual manuscript!


Anonymous said...

Hi Grace,

This really looks terrific! I love the way you often honor the books you love, too, in your work. Who'll be the publisher?

jamesmargaret3rd said...

What an exciting project, Grace! Love those polka dots,too. It's great to see something multicultural in the early reader genre. Offhand, I can't think of any other early reader series similar to it, can you?

gail said...

Good for you! I love hearing about these storys that linger and take time to become real. Looks great.

I hope you don't mind, I tagged you.


Barbara O'Connor said...

Grace - I'm so glad to hear all this good news! So deserved!

Barbara O'Connor

Grace Lin said...

Thanks all for your nice thoughts.

Leo--the publisher is Little, Brown. They've never published an early reader before so it's an experiment for both of us!

Jama- I can't really think of any multicultural early reader series either (Is Ruby Lu considered early reader? I feel like that's older). Most early readers are animal characters, so that could be why.

Gail- Answered the tag in the post before this one!

Barbara--consider yourself tagged!

Barbara O'Connor said...

Oh, goodie! Tagged!

I'm on vacation but will jump on that asap.

Sending good thoughts your way....


jamesmargaret3rd said...

Yes, Ruby Lu is early chapter book, not easy reader. You are breaking new ground here! That is SO fantastic -- also because Little Brown is finally doing an easy reader series too -- they have great faith in you, as do all of us, your loyal fans :). Can hardly wait for it to come out! - jama

SevenImpossible said...

Woo hoo! Can't wait to see it!

-- Jules at 7-Imp

Chris Barton said...

Hooray, Grace! And good for Little, Brown!

Lady Strathconn said...

I can't wait to buy this for my second graders! They love your pictures books, so I am sure Ling & Ting will be a hit.

Ling Ling said...

Wowie. My name is Ling and my cousin's name is Ting. Plus we both as kids had short black bobs and dressed identically.