Our Little Inventor (Sher Rill Ng, A&U)
Little Nell has been furiously working away at her desk, her room cloaked in gloom. But she’s finally finished her invention. Despite her younger brother’s scoffing, Nell is adamant that The Big City is in desperate need of her invention and her uncle agrees to take her there. It’s a long and tiring journey, and the soot and dirt of the city necessitates face masks for the pair as they near their destination. Luckily, Nell’s invention is actually a machine that can clean the air. Sher Rill Ng’s book tracks the little girl’s resilience and self-belief despite the busy people of the town having little time to devote to a child’s ‘toy’. Through their coughing, the people still spurn her, but Nell is persistent and finds a believer to help her cause. Our Little Inventor is shrouded in darkness and shadow, so much so that details of the buildings and its inhabitants can be hard to see. Yet it’s an evocative book for preschoolers that encourages them to never give up—and the sunlit reward at the end makes it all worthwhile.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue