Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, everyone shares wonderful non-fiction picture books. We learn much from authors who are sharing about their own special topics.
One more 'water' book from the beach!
I continue to appreciate that authors are telling the stories of those whose accomplishments need to be celebrated, and love knowing about them. Lonnie Johnson grew up in a busy household, but was always the one who was figuring out stuff. There wasn't much money so Johnson's father taught his kids how to create their own toys, sometimes much to everyone's worry. Lonnie almost set his house on fire while cooking a batch of rocket fuel in the kitchen. It exploded! He became an engineer and worked for NASA, but his most known invention was a fluke, like others we've learned about. It is the "super-soaker", a most popular summertime toy.
In the world of scientists, Lonnie Johnson was not the usual eccentric, wild and gray-haired inventor. What he did have was persistence. During a time of inventing a new kind of cooling for refrigerators, he discovered a way to "push" water out of a tube with great force, and immediately thought "water gun". Barton shows Johnson's challenges all through his life as an African-American from his youth when he was told he didn't have the talent to be an engineer, to his determination to make this invention available to all after being rejected by company after company. Tate's illustrations leap off the page with Lonnie Johnson's enthusiasm. It's another Barton and Tate accomplishment! I enjoyed the end papers showing some of Johnson's inventions, too.
You can discover more about Johnson on this page. Lonnie Johnson is still living and inventing today. As the author's note says, he didn't just take the money from the super soaker and retire. He continues to work to solve problems, and to encourage young inventors in their work.
It's a terrific book to add to the shelf of books about creating and inventing.