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 and 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. This is a theme that I continue in .