Our little inventor by Sher Rill Ng

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760523565.
(Age: 4+) Theme: Environment, Inventors, Pollution, Determination. Melbourne artist and designer Sher Rill Ng's debut picture book, Our Little Inventor tells the readers about a young scientist, Nell, who wants to save the Big City from the smoke and soot that pollutes the air. Strong and determined the girl takes her invention to the Big City and provokes and annoys the men in the government offices, and consequently is shown the door. But the secretary Miss Li believes in her and writes to her to say so. Receiving the letter at home, determines Nell to try again, and she and her siblings make a bigger version of her pollution solving machine.
Once again she goes to the Big City, to be greeted with derision once again from those in charge, but in turning to the coughing populace, she asks whether she should try. Receiving a resounding yes, she turns on her machine to the betterment of all.
Strong and resilient, inventive and determined, Nell is a wonderful role model for readers, making a machine which she then takes to the Big City, solving an environmental problem common to many countries.
The painterly illustrations, with nods to Steampunk and gaming illustrative techniques, reveal a nineteenth century landscape which begs readers to look closely at the richly detailed pages as they are turned.
I love the endpapers giving a before and after view of the Big City, impelling readers to look for such evidence in today's cities. Images of today's Beijing spring to mind, while before and after images of London can be found after the Great Smog of London in 1952 forced authorities to take action.
Fran Knight