|Whoosh! : Lonnie Johnson's super-soaking stream of inventions|
Author: Barton, Chris
The remarkable story behind the invention of the Super Soaker toy.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: .5 Quiz: 181421
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 5.40
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 68627
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/15/16)
School Library Journal (05/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (06/16)
The Hornbook (00/07/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/01/2016 Gr 2–5—As a child, Lonnie Johnson was a "tinkerer," or an avid collector of pieces and parts—all things that were considered scrap but that to Johnson were perfectly ripe for new applications. Early projects included rockets, a robot, and a powerful sound system for parties. Johnson's engineering degree took him to NASA, where he worked on the Galileo orbiter and probe. What Johnson really wanted to do, however, was build his own inventions. When trying to find an environmentally friendly solution to refrigerator and air-conditioning cooling systems, he stumbled upon what would eventually become his opus, the Super Soaker. Readers follow the many obstacles and setbacks Johnson experienced as he tirelessly worked to launch his invention. The narrative—based primarily on personal interviews the author had with Johnson—adeptly captures the passion and dedication necessary to be an engineer. The cartoonlike illustrations, rendered digitally with Manga Studio, combine child appeal with enough realism to accurately convey various scientific elements. Great care is taken to portray the institutional racism Johnson experienced, such as school tests that tried to dissuade his interest in engineering and his competing in a 1968 science fair in the newly desegregated but unwelcoming University of Alabama. The author's note explains Barton's mission to diversify common perceptions of what scientists and engineers look like and who they can be. This engaging and informative picture book exploration of Johnson's life succeeds in that right. - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2016 This picture book biography tells the story of Lonnie Johnson, kid rocket launcher, teen robot builder, adult NASA engineer, and inventor of the Super Soaker water toy. The story documents his perseverance in overcoming obstacles, some stemming from being African American—a school aptitude text that indicated he was not cut out to be an engineer, the prejudice he and his high-school team experienced while winning the 1968 University of Alabama science fair, and professional doubts concerning his abilities. The narrative also covers his initial failure at becoming a self-employed entrepreneur, remedied only by the hard-won success of the Super Soaker. The text emphasizes the continuing support he received from his family, and the vibrant illustrations are especially effective at capturing expressions and mannerisms that bring Johnson to life (as when Johnson and his fellow Tuskegee Institute students party to a sound and light system constructed from left-over electronics). This upbeat tribute makes an engaging and inspiring addition to STEM collections. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2016 What do a computer memory power backup system and a squirt gun on steroids have in common? Inventor Lonnie Johnson. An avid tinkerer since childhood, Johnson had become the only black high school student by 1968 to advance to the science-fair competition held at the University of Alabama, where his robot Linex took first place. After graduating from Tuskegee, he worked for NASA on the backup power system for the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and then went solo as an inventor. While working on a component for a refrigeration system, he serendipitously fashioned the power blaster that would, years later, become the Super Soaker. While that popular toy has become the public pinnacle of his career, Johnson is still very much in the invention game, currently developing an advanced solar-energy system. Johnson’s story is both delightful and inspiring, featuring a long-suffering family that tolerated his destructive, even explosive, experiments; the financial ups and downs of an entrepreneur; and his solo work and team work. Endpapers point toward a portfolio of inventions that range from “Seriously?” (a musical diaper) to “Wow!” (Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter). The text and author’s note, however, offer little more than an enthusiastic outline of a long career, with plenty of research holes left to fill. Why he left NASA to be self-employed, how he survived the financially rough years, and how his green technology work is coming along are all issues about which kids may reasonably ask. Digital artwork is serviceable and should stand up well for a group readaloud. Barton refers to a personal interview with Johnson, but no further source notes are included. EB - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.