|Gizmos, gadgets, and guitars : the story of Leo Fender|
Author: Mahin, Michael
A picture book biography of American inventor Leo Fender, best known for creating the world's most iconic electric guitar.
Kirkus Reviews (07/01/21)
School Library Journal (07/01/21)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/09/21)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 07/01/2021 Gr 2–5—Mahin and Salerno present the life of Leo Fender, the fix-it man who revolutionized the solid-body guitar and built an empire of affordable musical equipment. Leo's story begins in the early 20th century on his family farm, where he explored his love of building and fixing machinery. After straying from a traditional career path during the Depression, he opened a repair shop where he not only fixed instruments but built them. From musicians' feedback (and their desire for less feedback when playing amplified hollow bodies), he developed what is now the standard in rock music: the solid-body electric guitar. This wasn't without trial and error, and in his perseverance Fender clearly demonstrated STEAM habits of mind. This biography is well researched and masterfully told. Children will enjoy reading about Fender's unusual journey, especially with the clever tidbits, peculiar vocabulary, and subtle alliteration that make Mahin a fantastic storyteller. Salerno's classic Americana illustrations in crayons, ink, gouache, and pastel bring to mind illustrative versions of Norman Rockwell stills, with postures that show as much as the facial expressions. Leo is white, with a mop of curly brown hair and round glasses. Inner workings of the instruments and machinery are finely detailed, and blueprint drawings make up the endpapers. VERDICT While Fender may not be a household name, his story will inspire future musicians and inventors. Recommended for children's biography collections, especially those seeking to incorporate the arts into STEAM. Compare with Kim Tomsic's Guitar Genius, the story of Fender's contemporary, Les Paul.—Clara Hendricks, Cambridge P.L., MA - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 08/01/2021 As a child, Leo Fender enjoyed tinkering with gadgets, and in his teens, his fascination with electrical and electronic technology led him to build his own crystal radio and repair his friends’ radios. He learned accounting in college, but job prospects were few after the Great Depression took hold. Fender turned his hobby into a business, repairing radios, toasters, and even musical instruments. Confident that he could design a better electric guitar, he worked with local musicians and started a company that produced sturdy, versatile, affordable instruments that produced less feedback than previous guitars. While Fender’s name may be unfamiliar to many kids, his life story is intriguing, and Mahin does it justice in the book’s well-focused text. Further information (including the fact that Fender’s iconic Telecaster model has been in continuous production since 1951) appears in the appended biographical note. Salerno’s lively, digitally enhanced drawings help viewers imagine the changing twentieth-century settings, while depicting Fender in action throughout his life. This appealing picture-book biography introduces a nonmusician who made a significant contribution to American music. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.