Masked Hero: How Wu Lien-teh Invented the Mask That Ended an Epidemic

 
4.2 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
235 0
Masked Hero: How Wu Lien-teh Invented the Mask That Ended an Epidemic
Author(s)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
4+
Release Date
October 10, 2023
ISBN
978-1536228984
Buy This Book
      
Meet Dr. Wu Lien-teh, defeater of the Manchurian plague—in a story authored by his great-granddaughter, an emergency physician who relied on his life-saving invention during a pandemic a century later.

More than a hundred years before Covid, a deadly pneumonic plague threatened to sweep through Northeast China. Medical experts were summoned to help contain it—among them Wu Lien-teh, who had overcome hurdles to be a doctor since his boyhood in Malaysia. Unlike others, Dr. Wu deduced the disease was spread through airborne bacteria and advocated for quarantines and other measures familiar to readers today, including the use of a face covering he designed from layers of cloth and gauze: the first version of the N95 mask.

Wu Lien-teh faced ridicule and discrimination, but his trailblazing methods prevailed: the 1910 Manchurian plague was vanquished in four months, and his invention continues to keep us safe now. Masked Hero, written by Dr. Wu Lien-teh’s great-granddaughter Shan Woo Liu and charmingly illustrated by Lisa Wee, celebrates the little-known history of the N95 mask and the hero who first devised it. Back matter, including an author’s note and a time line, sheds further light on the ever-relevant past, encouraging budding scientists to think bravely—and remember the small acts we all can perform to keep our communities safe.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Life Saving Invention
Overall rating
 
4.3
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Learning Value
 
5.0
The children’s biography of Wu Lien-teh gives the history and accomplishments of Wu Lien-teh who lived 1879-1960. He became a doctor and was on the front lines during the pneumonic plague in Harbin, China. Those who caught the disease died. With the invention of the mask, the pandemic stopped within four months saving countless lives. It stunned the medical community that it helped so much and continued to be used during the pandemic of 1918. He was the first person of Chinese descent to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935. His invention was also employed during the COVID-19 pandemic as the idea remains effective. Through this biography, we see a positive representation of an underrepresented culture in American books.
We have always gone to the doctor and seen them wear masks and we all became familiar with them in 2020 so it was interesting to learn the story behind them. The author is Wu Lien-teh’s great-granddaughter who also is a doctor. He grew up in the British colony of Malaya and faced discrimination for his Asian descent. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic hate crimes against Asians increased. It is her passion and mission to provide literature that gives positive representation as well as making proceeds from her book to further medical access and racial equity organizations.
Overall, this was an interesting biography that provides a positive representation of Asian people. It highlights an invention that has become commonplace and familiar in a new and interesting way. The illustrations are engaging but the style looks a little too modern. Looking at the cover I thought the topic was going to be about COVID and it did not capture my attention like it would have if I understood the period that was being discussed. This would go well with a unit on biographies, important historical figures, and pandemics.
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The Origin of the Mask
Overall rating
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Learning Value
 
4.0
Following his dream at the age of seventeen, our Masked Hero Lien-teh travels to England alone to study medicine. After spending time researching and learning, his adventure takes him back to China, where he leads a medical college. But in 1910, a new disease hits the streets and Lien-teh is enlisted to try to stop it. He creates a mask using household items like gauze and encourages everyone to wear them to protect themselves. During this time, not everyone agrees with masks and some people make fun of Lien-teh. But even today we know how important his work was.

MASKED HERO takes us back when masks were invented and how big of a part they still play in saving lives today, like with COVID 19. The illustrations are simple with a softer theme. In the back of the book, there's a time line and a note from Dr. Shan Woo Liu who is our hero Lien-teh's great-granddaughter. She wanted to share the stories she grew up hearing and to share an Asian hero with the world to try to help curve prejudices.


Final Verdict: I would recommend this to fans of history and healthcare. It's interesting seeing where the mask originated and that the inventor initially received insults for it. The mask saves lives in certain situations and it's crazy to think Lien-teh was made fun of for this vital invention.
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