cover image Gizmos, Gadgets, and Guitars: The Story of Leo Fender

Gizmos, Gadgets, and Guitars: The Story of Leo Fender

Michael Mahin, illus. by Steven Salerno. Holt/Ottaviano, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-25186-2

This engrossing biography follows Leo Fender (1909–1991), who loves tinkering so much that he runs a radio repair business in high school and, following the loss of his accountant job during the Great Depression, establishes an electronics repair shop in California. Discovering that the newly invented electric guitars are “easy to break and hard to fix,” Fender decides to make his own and, though he’s not a musician, invents the iconic solid-body electric guitar. Mahin employs repetition, alliteration, and wordplay: “Western swing bands had cowboyed their way across the country and taken over the Los Angeles area.” Salerno’s multimedia illustrations, arranged and colored digitally, have a detailed, appealingly sketched vintage aesthetic. Young inventors in particular will find this well-paced account absorbing, though anyone with passions to pursue will find Fender’s mettle inspiring. Back matter includes an author’s note with additional biographical information, a bibliography, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)