Written by: Chris Barton
Illustrated by: Don Tate
Published by: Charlesbridge/Penguin Random House
Released: May 3, 2016
Genre: Picture book
Length: 32 pages
Age level: 7-10
Grade level: 2-5
Meet Lonnie Johnson, a kid inventor from Mobile, Alabama. Growing up with 5 siblings was no easy feat as he shared space in a small house. His love and dedication for solving problems payed off when he was able to go to college and get a job at NASA. He designed things such as space probes for his job and homemade robots at home as his hobby and eventually came up with a water gun called the Super Soaker. However, life is filled with trials and good things rarely come easily. The story tells of disappointments and rejections. But Lonnie never gave up and with the support and encouragement of his family, he persisted.
Written by award winning and best-selling author, Chris Barton, this picture book biography is an excellent read for STEM lovers, especially engineering and learning about persistence, faith, courage, and African American history.
I recommend this book for all children aged 7 to 10, who dream big, want to be the first in a field or industry, need encouragement or just enjoy reading a good story. I also recommend this book because it challenges the myth, notion, or stereotype of that a scientist is an old, White man wearing a lab coat. More diverse perspectives and representations of scientists ensure that all children despite gender, race, culture, religion, or physical ability will enter STEM fields.
I also loved the illustrator’s art work. The illustrator does a great and compelling job of showing the different time periods in the way the characters are dressed and their hair is combed. He also does a great job illustrating the science. And most importantly, he offers diversity in the representation of characters. It is no wonder he is also an award-winning illustrator.
This book has been reviewed and praised by Kirk Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book Magazine, Shelf Awareness, and World Magazine.
You may borrow this book at the library or purchase on Amazon in kindle, hardcover, or paperback.