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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,626 ratings  ·  307 reviews
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
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Charlesbridge
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  1,626 ratings  ·  307 reviews

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Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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."
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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:

Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grades 3-5
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 ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
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?

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!
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!
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!
This made me legit cry! So fun and inspiring!
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more

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
Xiomara Vasquez
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Danielle Norris
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stem-books, kids
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
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).
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Aliza Werner
Inventor of the Super Soaker water gun also happens to be a rocket scientist. Literally.
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an awesome book to kick off an invention convention unit! What a great book to discuss growth mindset! Amazing!
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun story to read and look at. Left me wanting to know more.
Jillian Heise
A fabulous book about a little known inventor. Love the story, and the illustrations! Great authors note at the end.
Brenda Lower
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
This is such a fun book. I love how it highlights Johnson's inventiveness, determination, and grit!
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bluebonnet
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.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great picture book biography for the K-3 set! This would especially be of interest to kids who liked The Day-Glo Brothers.
A.C. Paige
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This would be great to read during STEAM Club during the summer and then have a special water fight outside!
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great story of perseverance and creative thinking.
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.
Stephanie  Weatherly
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My youngest found this book at the library and it did not disappoint! Loved the story of perseverance and how the super soakers came to become a hot toy item.
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love science books with a challenge. I think it's important for kids to see that one has to work for something one wants, it doesn't just fall in their laps.
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Diana Kappel- Whoosh! (African-American) 1 2 Apr 03, 2020 03:27PM  

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I'm the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, which was included on 19 state reading lists.

My recent titles include the Mighty Truck early reader series, Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion (an Orbis Pictus Honor book), and What Do You Do with a Voice L

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