The Imagineer by Christopher Cheng and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is a National Library of Australia publication and is a sheer delight to read. In this book, Penny is an Imagineer. She uses her imagination to plan all sorts of contraptions and gadgets and enjoys sketching, planning and scribbling out all of her creative ideas. She is fascinated with how things work and gets a great deal of satisfaction from deconstructing things and putting them back together. Her inquiring mind is curious, always seeking out solutions, scrutinizing, questioning, problem solving and being patient with the process of trial and error, because that’s how she gets results. Penny finds inspiration all around her and finds alternative uses for everyday items to repurpose or recycle them into all sorts of wonderful items.
Penny lives in a small apartment so she is excited to visit her Grandpa who resides in an enormous house, a place full of all kinds of pieces that Penny can draw inspiration from and create with. Going to her Grandpa’s house is like taking a step back in time as Penny explores many of his items from the past – she slices potatoes with her Grandpa’s mandolin, uses a butter churn and learns about other fascinating items from her Grandpa who tells her that “everything has a purpose. Everything has a job to do.’’ The greatest discovery comes when Penny ventures outside and finds Grandpa’s shed brimming with treasure for Penny to investigate and analyse. Grandpa takes great pride sharing with Penny what the pieces were once used for. Penny’s imagination is alight and ready to build…but what? All is revealed in the most magical double page spread that folds out. At the end of the story there are several pages featuring ‘tools for imagineering’, these are illustrations and descriptions of twenty gadgets from Grandpa’s past. Following this is a list of images from the National Library of Australia collection showing gadgets from the past.
Lucia Masciullo’s watercoloured, pencil and collaged illustrations pique the readers curiosity as they are full of details waiting to be spotted and stories begging to be told. The illustrations deftly capture the emotions Penny and Grandpa experience. They blend perfectly with the narrative to create a beautiful story that celebrates the joy and satisfaction to be found in tinkering, questioning, creating, imagining all sorts of possibilities and learning from older relatives. A final word… Be sure to soak up all the glorious details on the exquisite endpapers.