Alice Pung (text) and Sher Rill Ng (illustrator), Millie Mak the Maker, HarperCollins Publishers, August 2023, 288 pp., RRP $22.95 (hbk), ISBN 9781460763773
The combination of this well-known author-illustrator team and a beautifully presented hardback book made me look forward to what Millie Mak was going to do. One small hesitation was that the cover illustration reminds me of books of my childhood, rather than those of our current times. In the two stories in this book, Millie is the daughter of mixed heritage parents, and her grandmothers certainly have different perspectives on how to deal with their granddaughter, but there is no doubt she is well loved. Both grandmothers encourage Millie to make beautiful and useful items from what is available without going out to buy things. The stories are much more than just instructions on making items, and Sher Rill Ng’s greyscale illustrations bring the situations alive.
The reader also learns about life for those on a budget and living in high density, multi-racial housing. There are themes of friendship between girls of different backgrounds and with parents with varying expectations, and how that changes what goes on with the families.
The book is ideal for those readers who like to make things. The ‘makers’ are almost exclusively girls and so I think that girls are the ones who will be most attracted to the instructions contained within the book, at the end of each of the two stories. Readers can follow the simple instructions to make a simple skirt, sleeve savers, a chatelaine, scrunchies, headbands and there’s even a recipe for Ahma’s savory egg custard.
I think the readership for this book will be limited by the subject matter but for the right crafty reader it will be ideal.
Reviewed by Maureen Mann