Monday, October 31, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: Whoosh: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

Whoosh: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton. Unpged. Charlesbridge, May 2016. 9781580892971. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Are you looking for a book to teach perseverance? Looking for a book with a STEM component? Looking for a book that is just plain old fun? Whoosh is the book for you! 

Bless Lonnie Johnson's parents ability to put up with is penchant for collecting and tinkering! Young Lonnie shared a small house with five siblings and all the parts he collected for his inventions. He loved to build and create things. He managed to build and launch a rocket, much to the delight of his classmates but couldn't manage to pass an exam to become an engineer. The exam "said" he wouldn't make a good one. Discouraged, he returned to the drawing board. In 1968, he and his team won first place in a science fair that was held at the newly desegregated University of Alabama. He did go on to become and engineer and was part of the team that launched the Galileo rocket. But what he really wanted was to be a full-time inventor.

As with many inventions, a failure while trying to invent a more efficient and environmentally-friendly refrigeration method led to an idea for the ultimate water gun, a Super Soaker. Kids today, and maybe their parents, might be surprised to learn that toy manufacturers were reluctant to sign on to Lonnie's idea. He heard a lot of "Nos" and had to downsize from a house to an apartment in his quest to hear a "yes!"

Don Tate's energetic cartoon style perfectly captures Lonnie's buzzing energy. The design, from the mechanical drawings on the end-pages to the dramatic gatefold dramatically illustrating Johnson's success, adds to the recipe for success. The combination of engaging text and zippy illustrations make this a perfect read aloud. The class I read this to were so smitten, they asked to find out more about Lonnie Johnson and took to the Internet to read more. That's the power of a great informational picture book! 

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