Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions


Author: Chris Barton

Illustrator: Don Tate

Published: May 2016

Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing

A cool idea with a big splash!
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of the top twenty toys of all time. And it was an accidental discovery that brought it into being. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity were present in Lonnie Johnson’s early life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, Lonnie demonstrated persistence and a passion for problem solving that became the cornerstone of his career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is Lonnie’s invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made the most memorable splash in popular culture.



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Click here to download the Discussion and Activity Guide.


Kirkus ** Starred review **

“Tate plays up the pressurized-water imagery to the hilt. In a thoughtful author’s note, Barton explains how Johnson challenges the stereotypical white, Einstein-like vision of a scientist. A delightfully child-friendly and painfully necessary diversification of the science field.”

Publishers Weekly ** Starred review **

“[T]he story of African-American inventor Lonnie Johnson is tailor-made for a young audience, and Barton and Tate do it justice in this inspiring account . . . Tate’s inviting digital illustrations bring an appropriately playful air to the pages, especially in a foldout spread showing the Super Soaker’s blast in all of its glory.”



A Junior Library Guild Selection, Fall 2016