Our Little Inventor by Sher Rill Ng
Far from Nell’s home in the countryside, the Big City is growing more and more polluted every day. Nell has a brilliant mind and an ingenious invention. She sets off on a long journey, only to discover that the problem is far worse than she’d imagined. But the plucky girl is determined to succeed.
Sher Rill Ng is a Melbourne-based illustrator, who, at the age of nine, was inspired by the drawings of a fellow classmate.
Our Little Inventor showcases Ng’s artwork to perfection. Her work is inspired by animated films, and her illustrations in this picture book echo those films. It is part picture book, part canvas, and part graphic novel.
This book is almost like looking at a storyboard of an animated sci-fi film. It’s easy to imagine the characters becoming animated, and while there isn’t much dialogue, each character has a distinct personality.
She manages to convey emotion, relationships and the struggle Nell, and the people of the Big City face, with just a simple brushstroke.
Ng’s drawings are dark, brooding, and ultimately hopeful. They are rich in detail, and she uses them to tell the story even more than the text.
The sparse text is simple, while adding small details illustrations alone can’t convey.
Our Little Inventor features many pages without text. While it is still a picture book at heart, it’s a nice mix between text and no text to help ease younger readers into more sophisticated picture books. It’s also a great way to build discussion and questioning with younger ones – with readers able to ‘tell’ the story in their own words for these pages.
The subtle theme of climate change and how we care for our environment is at the heart of this book, while not dominating it. It is also a story of gender and societal norms, and it was nice to see a female character play the role of inventor for a change. It is a story of determination and resilience, and of not being afraid to try again. These are all important messages for our younger generation, and this book helps spark those learnings.
Our Little Inventor is a great book about a little girl with a determined spirit who just needed a little help to make the world a better place for everyone.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Allen & Unwin, RRP $27.99