Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2017 #nfpb2017


Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge has long been one of my favorite annual reading challenges, but I never got my blogging act in gear in 2016 to participate in weekly posts. (Though I did do plenty of reading: check out my list of 10 favorite nonfiction picture books from 2016). I’d like to do something a little different with my blog posts this year: in addition to posting brief reviews of individual titles, I’d like to develop some lengthier posts to share with my Children’s Literature students, curating recommendation lists, profiling authors and illustrators, and creating text sets.

My reading goals:

  • Read at least one nonfiction picture book each week.
  • Read at least eight middle-grade and/or YA nonfiction titles.
  • Read all winners and honor books for 2017’s Sibert and Orbis Pictus Awards, as well as any nonfiction titles honored by other ALA Youth Media Awards committees.
  • Select one or more nonfiction children’s book awards and complete all winners and honor books (I only have about twenty books left to complete the Sibert, for example.)


Today, I’m sharing Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Invention, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate.

I really enjoyed this book and think it would have wide appeal among K-8 readers. Lonnie Johnson was a non-stop tinkerer and inventor even as a child. From an early age he knew he wanted to be an engineer, but a school test indicated he had little aptitude for it. Far from being discouraged, Lonnie just redoubled his efforts to invent a robot, a project he and his team eventually completed and presented at their state science fair. After college, Lonnie ended up working for NASA, but he never stopped tinkering and inventing in his spare time. He eventually focuses his efforts on making a success of the super-soaker water gun he invented (mostly by accident) and continues to work hard in his home workshop, “facing challenges, solving problems, and building things.”

Don Tate’s illustrations are colorful and inviting. Barton’s text is straightforward and clearly written. There is an Author’s Note that details the fascinating story of how this book came to be written. I do wish there had been more back matter: resources, additional information, photographs, etc.

Artwork by Sarah S. Brannen



5 responses to “Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2017 #nfpb2017”

  1. Akilah Avatar

    I just finished Whoosh last week! I wish there had also been a little bit more about some of his challenges trying to do science in the segregated south. There’s a hint about it when he takes his robot to the science fair that had just been integrated (and with the angry looking white people in the back), but it’s never explicitly dealt with. The pictures were awesome.

    Great goals. I love the emphasis on non-fiction, and I can’t wait to read your new posts.

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    Looking forward to some of these future blog posts from you!

  3. lindabaie Avatar

    I enjoyed the story of this invention a lot, and know the kids who love them would, too. Happy to see you here!

  4. Michele Avatar

    I thought the same thing about Whoosh – it needed a little more back matter and then it would have been a perfect nonfiction book! But I really enjoyed it and I know students love it. I’m including it in this month’s Sibert Smackdown I’m doing with my 3rd grade students.
    I enjoyed reading your goals! Happy 2017 reading!

  5. […] shared a fun nonfiction picture book about African-American inventor Lonnie Johnson along with a few nonfiction picture book reading […]

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