Kid’s Book Review: Masked Hero

Kid’s Book Review: Masked Hero

About the Book, Author and Illustrator

This is an non-fiction picture book about the life and work of Dr Wu Lien-teh, a hero of science who braved an epidemic to create a new kind of mask – a mask that, a hundred years later, continues to save lives today and was hugely relevant in the global campaigns to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

Growing up in Malaysia, Wu Lien-teh had always loved science and wanted to be a doctor. His studies took him around the world and in 1910 he brought his expertise to China to fight the plague. There he overcame discrimination to promote trailblazing measures that will be familiar to readers today – including encouraging people to wear a face covering he designed from layers of cloth and gauze: the first version of the N95 mask.

Written by Wu Lien-teh’s great-granddaughter, who is now an ER doctor who relied on his life-saving invention during a pandemic a century later, and charmingly illustrated by Lisa Wee, this is an inspiring and fascinating biography about an unknown hero of science.

Author Shan Woo Liu is the great granddaughter of Wu Lien-teh. She was born in Michigan, grew up in Los Altos, Ca and moved to Boston for medical school. Shan’s daughter, Kaili, began writing Masked Hero: How Wu Lien-teh Invented the Mask and Ended an Epidemic as part of a first-grade project in 2020, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the United States. Masked Hero is the first book written by Shan and Kaili. They are proud to share the story of Dr. Wu, and to help children understand that even the simplest acts, such as wearing a mask, can make us all powerful, brave, and hard working heroes, just like Wu Lien-teh!

Illustrator Lisa Wee was born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, the hometown of Dr. Wu Lien-teh. After first pursuing a career in nursing, she moved to Kenya to teach art.

Book Review

I have learnt lots of new things from this book

When I saw the cover of this book and read the title, I thought it was going to be something to do with doctors and creativity.

I liked it when Lien-teh was creative and made cricket bats from broken bookcases and tennis rackets from slates because there was no sports equipment in his school. I can’t believe he was so clever that he worked out that the disease was spreading when people were coughing near each other but other people thought it was because of fleas or rats.

I have learnt lots of new things from this book. I learnt more about diseases and how they can spread quickly. I did not know what a scholarship or epidemic is, so my mum explained these to me. I now know what the Nobel prize is too.

I didn’t like it when Lien-teh couldn’t get a job because he was Chinese and they were only giving jobs to British citizens of European descent.

It made me happy that Lien-teh worked out how to stop the epidemic by wearing masks and he got a special prize. It was not fair that people were being mean to him about the mask at first.

This story reminded me of lockdown and that we had to stay in our house and people had to wear masks when they were going out. It was boring because we couldn’t go out and do anything.

The illustrations in the book are detailed and clear. The picture of the microscope reminds me of the microscopes in the science lab at school.

It is amazing that Lien-teh was the author’s great grandad. I will definitely recommend this book to other children my age.

If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

Or, you can shop on-line and support our Kids Reviews page by sourcing your discounted book via this link

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Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose, we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Emaan
  • Age: 7 years
  • Likes: swimming, crafts, and fun fairs
  • Dislikes: bananas and spiders
  • Favourite Book: The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton
  • Favourite Film: Harry Potter - The Goblet of Fire
  • Favourite Song: We Are Revolting Children (from Matlilda)