Whoosh! is a picture book biography of Lonnie Johnson, the Black American engineer and inventor behind the best-selling Super Soaker water gun and holder of over 100 patents. What a perfect true-story to attract children! The story chronicles his journey from his childhood to his work with NASA to today, having created a leading scientific research facility after captilizing on his success from the Super-Soaker.
The book wonderfully details Johnson’s scientific curiosity as a child, tinkering with parts his father would bring him and miscellanous items he’s collect from the junkyard. The story also covers the often bumpy road he faced as a young Black engineer in the only recently integrated South.
Don Tate’s joyous illustrations perfectly capture the wonder and awe of the scientific process. You get a sense that Johnson really loves what he does and has tons of fun in the process. It’s the perfect STEM book to encourage any young, aspiring scientist!
Take-away message: Perserverance is an essential key to success. Johnson faced many challanges in his path to becoming a successful Black scientist, and it would have been easy to give up in the face of so many setbacks. But he knew he was highly skilled and was determined to make the world a better place with his inventions. So he persevered and his hard work and tenacity paid off in the end.
TAGS: Black, male lead, Notable POC, STEM, Spanish edition, paperback
Read about the leading research facility he created with the millions he made from the Super-Soaker invention: Johnson R&D.
Visit his website: lonniejohnson.com
Read his 2018 interview with the Daily Press.