Masked Hero

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

Illustrator: Lisa Wee

Binding: Hardcover

Imprint: MIT Kids Press

MIT Kids Press Series

Age 4+

Children's & Young Adult: General Non-Fiction

An inspiring picture book biography celebrating Dr Wu Lien-teh, the unknown hero who, over a hundred years ago, created the N95 mask, which continues to save lives today.

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.


Shan Woo Liu is a great-granddaughter of Wu Lien-teh. She is an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Masked Hero, which she wrote with her daughter, Kaili Liu Gormley, is her first picture book. The two are proud to share the story of Wu Lien-teh and to help children understand that heroes come in all shapes, sizes, genders and races.

Lisa Wee is an illustrator who loves exploring the topics of diversity, cultural identity and inclusivity with quaint and quirky characters. She is a Peranakan, with a blended cultural background of Chinese and Malay. She has had the privilege of working with Top Chef winner Kristen Kish, with World Vision International on the International Day of the Girl campaign, and on the magazines Ladybug and Babybug.


Neatly describing the medical and racist issues Lien-teh faced, as well as drawing parallels between the past and recent times, these authors pay tribute to an amazing person who still hasn’t really received all the credit he deserves. Stylised illustrations by Lisa Wee help bring him to life on the page.

Red Reading Hub

This is an engaging and inspirational true story of real heroism and demonstrates that science and medicine have no international boundaries. It’s a story that has been beautifully illustrated by Lisa Wee.

The Letterpress Project

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