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Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

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A cool idea with a big splash. You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began A cool idea with a big splash. You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.


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A cool idea with a big splash. You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began A cool idea with a big splash. You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

30 review for Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    WOW! Terrific book. I'm so happy to have learned about Lonnie Johnson's life and inventions—this is the kind of story I immediately want to share! "...Because facing challenges, solving problems, and building things are what Lonnie Johnson loves to do. And his ideas just keep on flowing." WOW! Terrific book. I'm so happy to have learned about Lonnie Johnson's life and inventions—this is the kind of story I immediately want to share! "...Because facing challenges, solving problems, and building things are what Lonnie Johnson loves to do. And his ideas just keep on flowing."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    4.5 STARS This is great! Lonnie Johnson's best known invention, the super soaker, really is just plain *fun* yet that doesn't undermine the great talent, ingenuity and dedication that went into making it. This book is upbeat yet it doesn't undermine the trials and tribulations Johnson went through with his inventions and with trying to be taken seriously, a particular challenge as young African American growing up during the civil rights movement (five years before his team won the 1968 science 4.5 STARS This is great! Lonnie Johnson's best known invention, the super soaker, really is just plain *fun* yet that doesn't undermine the great talent, ingenuity and dedication that went into making it. This book is upbeat yet it doesn't undermine the trials and tribulations Johnson went through with his inventions and with trying to be taken seriously, a particular challenge as young African American growing up during the civil rights movement (five years before his team won the 1968 science fair at the University of Alabama, African American students hadn't even been allowed to participate). Far from being a one-hit wonder, Johnson worked for NASA before his tinkering led him to invent the super soaker (and, even then, many toy makers turned him down). Highly recommended! Would have been a five-star book if there was a bit more back matter, Bibliography, etc.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Agnė

    3.5 out of 5 Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions is a beautifully illustrated picturebook biography about Lonnie Johnson, the African American rocket scientist who accidentally invented one of the most popular toys of all time -- the Super Soaker. I just LOVE Don Tate's playful, charming, expressive, and brightly-colored illustrations: 3.5 out of 5 Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions is a beautifully illustrated picturebook biography about Lonnie Johnson, the African American rocket scientist who accidentally invented one of the most popular toys of all time -- the Super Soaker. I just LOVE Don Tate's playful, charming, expressive, and brightly-colored illustrations:

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    I admit it, the words "Super-Soaking" made me pick up this book. Then the story of the brilliant engineer Lonnie Johnson amused me ("And he learned how to make rocket fuel. When it caught fire in the kitchen, Lonnie's mom didn't make him stop. She just sent him to work outside.") and had me saying wow! repeatedly at the diversity of his inventions (e.g., the backup power system for the Galileo probe to Jupiter, all the way to the SuperSoaker). This brilliant, curious and inventive man is still e I admit it, the words "Super-Soaking" made me pick up this book. Then the story of the brilliant engineer Lonnie Johnson amused me ("And he learned how to make rocket fuel. When it caught fire in the kitchen, Lonnie's mom didn't make him stop. She just sent him to work outside.") and had me saying wow! repeatedly at the diversity of his inventions (e.g., the backup power system for the Galileo probe to Jupiter, all the way to the SuperSoaker). This brilliant, curious and inventive man is still exploring and creating. This book is also good at showing engineers and scientists themselves come from diverse backgrounds.

  5. 5 out of 5

    AMY

    Great story of a not-so-famous African-American inventor of a widely enjoyed children’s toy. I had not heard of him and I was very inspired after reading his story. The author pays close attention to his struggle to make a difference in the lives of everyday people with his creative ideas and gadgets. At an early age, he had a keen interest in how things work. This story should inspire kids because it shows how even after many disappointments, he continued to try no matter what. Illustrations ar Great story of a not-so-famous African-American inventor of a widely enjoyed children’s toy. I had not heard of him and I was very inspired after reading his story. The author pays close attention to his struggle to make a difference in the lives of everyday people with his creative ideas and gadgets. At an early age, he had a keen interest in how things work. This story should inspire kids because it shows how even after many disappointments, he continued to try no matter what. Illustrations are colorful and engaging. Highly recommended for Grades 3-5.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    A book about the inventor of the Super Soaker? Yes, please! A great little read about Lonnie Johnson and his inventions. I loved that Barton included the fact that when Johnson won his first science fair at the University of Alabama in 1968, just 5 years before this date, African Americans students were not even allowed to participate. Can you imagine how much we've missed out on? How much intelligence and drive were out there but we were too blinded by our prejudices to see that? A book about the inventor of the Super Soaker? Yes, please! A great little read about Lonnie Johnson and his inventions. I loved that Barton included the fact that when Johnson won his first science fair at the University of Alabama in 1968, just 5 years before this date, African Americans students were not even allowed to participate. Can you imagine how much we've missed out on? How much intelligence and drive were out there but we were too blinded by our prejudices to see that?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Do you remember playing with super soakers as a child? Did you know they were invented by an African American? This is the story of Lonnie Johnson. It's well written, factual and easy to read. Put this book in the hands of young boys and girls who have a dream to build, create, and change the world! Do you remember playing with super soakers as a child? Did you know they were invented by an African American? This is the story of Lonnie Johnson. It's well written, factual and easy to read. Put this book in the hands of young boys and girls who have a dream to build, create, and change the world!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    I have a love/hate relationship with super soakers, but this book has nothing but love! Love seeing a collaboration between Chris Barton and Don Tate again. Love using this book with Makerspace. Love the themes in this book. Thanks Chris Barton for another great book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    This is the best picture book to encourage kids to try the STEM/STEAM stuff in their schools and libraries that I have ever seen. Esp. love the foldout and the patents on the endpapers. All the awards! All of them!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    This made me legit cry! So fun and inspiring!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aliah

    Digital Text: “Woosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaking Stream of Inventions” by Chris Barton was awarded the 2017 Cook Prize for Bank Street College of Education Finalist. Readers are immediately captivated by Lonnie Johnson’s persistence and very cool water gun invention, the…Super Soaker. This colorful biography follows the life of the African American inventor/scientist who despite many challenges worked hard, experienced failure, and pushed through in order to become a NASA engineer and finall Digital Text: “Woosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaking Stream of Inventions” by Chris Barton was awarded the 2017 Cook Prize for Bank Street College of Education Finalist. Readers are immediately captivated by Lonnie Johnson’s persistence and very cool water gun invention, the…Super Soaker. This colorful biography follows the life of the African American inventor/scientist who despite many challenges worked hard, experienced failure, and pushed through in order to become a NASA engineer and finally a successful independent inventor with his very own lab.His persistence proved fruitful and payed off tremendously. This text would be a welcome addition to any unit on perseverance. It is probably best suited in an upper elementary or middle school. This book clearly lends itself to other books of famous inventors who had to push through difficult times and fight to become successful. It is also sure to encourage students to learn more about other inventors or inventions that they are interested in.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    Water fights with my dad were epic. They all started innocently enough with squirt guns; someone getting a tad bit wet when they least expected it. Then the strategy started as the game escalated. The squirt guns were abandoned. There were only two outside faucets which needed to be accessed for the filling of pails or buckets. After that round of water wildness, when we were all nearly drenched, my dad would wait for one of us to round the house and then everything went crazy when he started us Water fights with my dad were epic. They all started innocently enough with squirt guns; someone getting a tad bit wet when they least expected it. Then the strategy started as the game escalated. The squirt guns were abandoned. There were only two outside faucets which needed to be accessed for the filling of pails or buckets. After that round of water wildness, when we were all nearly drenched, my dad would wait for one of us to round the house and then everything went crazy when he started using the hose. In 1990 the first Super Soaker was sold. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, May 3, 2016) written by Chris Barton with illustrations by Don Tate is an uplifting story of stick-to-itiveness and ingenuity. My dad would have loved this toy and those epic water fights would have been magnificent. My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Xiomara Vasquez

    This is my review on the non-fiction book “Whoosh”. This book is about a boy born in Alabama named Lonnie Johnson. Lonnie was always inventing something. He liked to take thigs apart and put them back together. His dream is to become an engineer and to make his dream come true he enters a competition and win first prize. He pursued his dream of nuclear engineer and graduated from Tuskegee University and went to work for the United States Air Force and the NASA. This is a informational book about This is my review on the non-fiction book “Whoosh”. This book is about a boy born in Alabama named Lonnie Johnson. Lonnie was always inventing something. He liked to take thigs apart and put them back together. His dream is to become an engineer and to make his dream come true he enters a competition and win first prize. He pursued his dream of nuclear engineer and graduated from Tuskegee University and went to work for the United States Air Force and the NASA. This is a informational book about Lonnie’s inventions. He was the creator of the famous Super Soaker water gun in popular culture. This book can be use in the classroom to introduce a biography or story of someone in an exciting way. Also, read-aloud students can compare and contrast the setting, characters and events and create a prediction.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Norris

    I thought this book was wonderful! So often when students read about inventors who do great things it feels so far removed from their own lives. Yet almost every student has seen a super soaker in action. It makes the story of Lonnie Johnson so much more approachable. Learning how he started by taking things apart and making new things was inspiring. I appreciated that the book mentioned a test told him he could not accomplish his dream, but he just ignored it and worked harder. It is inspiring I thought this book was wonderful! So often when students read about inventors who do great things it feels so far removed from their own lives. Yet almost every student has seen a super soaker in action. It makes the story of Lonnie Johnson so much more approachable. Learning how he started by taking things apart and making new things was inspiring. I appreciated that the book mentioned a test told him he could not accomplish his dream, but he just ignored it and worked harder. It is inspiring for students who have so many tests that try to influence their self-worth. This will be a book I will strongly encourage all the student to read for the bluebonnet awards. I might even have to read it to them.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate Puleo Unger

    Whoosh! is another book that's based on a true story. It's kind of a biography of Lonnie Johnson, a rocket scientist who invented the Super Soaker, among other things. Jim has been bemoaning the poor quality of Super Soakers since they were bought by Nerf, so I knew we had to read this story. Sadly, it's a bit too long for a 6-year old. It would probably be best for ages 7-9. It's just too factual, not fun enough considering the title. I enjoyed it, but Christopher was definitely glazing over, so Whoosh! is another book that's based on a true story. It's kind of a biography of Lonnie Johnson, a rocket scientist who invented the Super Soaker, among other things. Jim has been bemoaning the poor quality of Super Soakers since they were bought by Nerf, so I knew we had to read this story. Sadly, it's a bit too long for a 6-year old. It would probably be best for ages 7-9. It's just too factual, not fun enough considering the title. I enjoyed it, but Christopher was definitely glazing over, so I sped through it as quickly as I could. http://www.momsradius.com/2016/08/juv...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janis

    This is a cute, too-light read about engineer Lonnie Johnson, the African-American inventor of the super-soaker toy water gun. I enjoyed it, but it was really skimpy on a lot of Johnson's life--he's a little kid, then he's in some grade (middle school?) winning a science fair, then at college, then an engineer, then he's married with a family of his own (we never learn their names). It's great to see a modern-day nonwhite inventor featured in a book, but this one is incredibly sketchy, likely due This is a cute, too-light read about engineer Lonnie Johnson, the African-American inventor of the super-soaker toy water gun. I enjoyed it, but it was really skimpy on a lot of Johnson's life--he's a little kid, then he's in some grade (middle school?) winning a science fair, then at college, then an engineer, then he's married with a family of his own (we never learn their names). It's great to see a modern-day nonwhite inventor featured in a book, but this one is incredibly sketchy, likely due to Barton's being a picture book author. That said, kids love water toys like the super-soaker, so they will likely enjoy this book more than I did.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    I love that there are more kid-friendly nonfiction works in picture book format! This book's colourful and friendly illustrations, simple and accessible language, and unique subject matter (the inventor of the Super-Soaker) make it a fun and interesting read for kids of all ages! I especially enjoy the touches of subtle humour that author weaves into the story (ex. pg. 24 "'But don't make a special trip," the guy said. Lonnie made a special trip."). The historical notes at the end also make this I love that there are more kid-friendly nonfiction works in picture book format! This book's colourful and friendly illustrations, simple and accessible language, and unique subject matter (the inventor of the Super-Soaker) make it a fun and interesting read for kids of all ages! I especially enjoy the touches of subtle humour that author weaves into the story (ex. pg. 24 "'But don't make a special trip," the guy said. Lonnie made a special trip."). The historical notes at the end also make this book a great tool for classroom discussion and further inquiry!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This book has so many great discussion points from following your dreams, to overcoming racism and bad times. I especially loved pointing out to my students the part where a test suggested he would never be a good inventor/engineer. They may not get it now, but one day when they are older they may think, hmm, Mrs. Myles told us we could do anything, no matter what anyone said. (Shameless plug for myself, but in the context on Lonnie's fascinating story). This book has so many great discussion points from following your dreams, to overcoming racism and bad times. I especially loved pointing out to my students the part where a test suggested he would never be a good inventor/engineer. They may not get it now, but one day when they are older they may think, hmm, Mrs. Myles told us we could do anything, no matter what anyone said. (Shameless plug for myself, but in the context on Lonnie's fascinating story).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Who thinks about the guy who invented the Super Soaker water gun? I hadn't, until I saw this book! The text and the illustrations work together to entertain and inform with enough details to hold interest but doesn't overwhelm the reader. The end papers include diagrams of some of his other inventions. Who thinks about the guy who invented the Super Soaker water gun? I hadn't, until I saw this book! The text and the illustrations work together to entertain and inform with enough details to hold interest but doesn't overwhelm the reader. The end papers include diagrams of some of his other inventions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aliza Werner

    Inventor of the Super Soaker water gun also happens to be a rocket scientist. Literally.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    What an awesome book to kick off an invention convention unit! What a great book to discuss growth mindset! Amazing!

  22. 5 out of 5

    wildct2003

    Fun story to read and look at. Left me wanting to know more.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Heise

    A fabulous book about a little known inventor. Love the story, and the illustrations! Great authors note at the end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Lower

    Great quick biography about an inventor. Plus: person of color. Plus: he invented the super soaker! Awesome! Had never heard of him before, but it's an awesome story. Great quick biography about an inventor. Plus: person of color. Plus: he invented the super soaker! Awesome! Had never heard of him before, but it's an awesome story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This is such a fun book. I love how it highlights Johnson's inventiveness, determination, and grit! This is such a fun book. I love how it highlights Johnson's inventiveness, determination, and grit!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Love Barton and Tate's collaborations. This one makes me want to be back in the library putting this in kids' hands. They all need to read this book. The need to see another image of a scientist. Love Barton and Tate's collaborations. This one makes me want to be back in the library putting this in kids' hands. They all need to read this book. The need to see another image of a scientist.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Great picture book biography for the K-3 set! This would especially be of interest to kids who liked The Day-Glo Brothers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    A.C. Paige

    This would be great to read during STEAM Club during the summer and then have a special water fight outside!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    A great story of perseverance and creative thinking.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    What a good story! I hope kids who read this will be inspired by Lonnie Johnson's creativity and tenacity. Even when he failed and all hope seemed lost, he persevered. What a good story! I hope kids who read this will be inspired by Lonnie Johnson's creativity and tenacity. Even when he failed and all hope seemed lost, he persevered.

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