Cover image for Guitar genius : how Les Paul engineered the solid-body electric guitar and rocked the world
Guitar genius : how Les Paul engineered the solid-body electric guitar and rocked the world
Publication Information:
San Francisco, California : Chronicle Books, [2019]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Added Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Book 787.87 PAUL TOM 1

On Order

Prescott Public Library1Received on 4/10/19



"An exuberant introduction to a musician and creative genius." -Kirkus Reviews

A beautifully-illustrated true story of rock and roll legend Les Paul : This is the story of how Les Paul created the world's first solid-body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player's arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible, this unforgettable biography will resonate with inventive readers young and old. Perfect for young readers and rock and roll enthusiasts alike. Unforgettable biography that will resonate with inventive readers young and old. Featuring richly detailed, dynamic illustrations by Brett Helquist, the New York Times bestselling illustrator of many books, including the Lemony Snicket books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. "Les Paul was an innovator and musical force for the ages - he changed the world in a very real way. His story is a lesson from which kids of all ages can derive inspiration." -Billy Gibbons, lead guitarist of ZZ Top.

This inspiring true story of rock and roll legend Les Paul teaches lessons of perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and following your dreams. Perfect read aloud book for family story time Books for kids ages 5-8 Great book for STEM programs Children's books for grades K-3

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-If your child regularly took apart machines in your home or trimmed down a tread on your stairs to make it sound better, how would you react? Fortunately for musicians and music lovers, Les Paul's mother encouraged, even praised, his efforts. From a young age, Les was curious about sound as it relates to music. His initial attempts to learn to play the piano ended with the teacher declaring, "Lester will never learn music." but a mail-order guitar and a wooden harmonica proved to be just the ticket to launch his ever-widening curiosity about how to improve the sound so it would reach all the way to the back of crowds that came to hear him play. Each performance venue produced additional problems to solve, leading to more and more tinkering with found objects. His persistence and creativity paid off, as he is credited with numerous inventions that have made today's recorded music possible. Paul's story is delightfully told in folksy, familiar language, with numerous onomatopoeias to represent the sounds he produced. There is additional back matter that adds more detail to illuminate his amazing career accomplishments. Helquist's illustrations, created with colorful oils, are equally delightful and pleasant. Text and illustrations radiate exuberance and joy. Readers will marvel at the perseverance and ingenuity Paul demonstrated throughout his life. VERDICT A strong addition to inspire would-be inventors, and an excellent choice for STEM programs and biography collections.-Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to his teacher, young Les Paul-who preferred playing piano by ear over sight reading-would "never be musical." Undeterred and with his mother's support, Paul pursued his interests, musical and otherwise. After designing and building a radio set, he learned to play guitar, banjo, and harmonica, performing for audiences that expressed their wish to hear the music better. Through trial and error, Paul created contraptions to amplify the sound of his guitar-but the guitar's vibrations caused unwelcome feedback. A steel rail and an electric guitar prototype (called the Log, because of its shape) led to a design that resembles modern-day instruments. In Helquist's expressive oil paintings, Paul's music is visualized as colorful orbs and swirling lines. Good ideas require persistence, determination, and lots of experimentation, Tomsic implies through Paul's story. A note from the author explores Paul's contributions to the world of music in greater detail. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Young Lester Polsfuss' piano teacher sent a note home to Lester's mother saying, "Your boy, Lester, will never learn music, so save your money. Please don't send him for any more lessons." Lester proved her wrong and grew up to become Les Paul, "guitar genius.""You can do anything you put your mind to," Lester's mother told him. So Lester put his mind to creating things: a radio, a recording device, a mic and a speaker, and a solid-body electric guitar that forever changed popular music. Along the way, Lester also created personaeRed Hot Red, Rhubarb Red, the Wizard of Waukesha. As Les Paul, the white man played to diverse crowds with some of the greatest musicians of the era: Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Christianall sharing a page in Helquist's illustration as they sometimes shared a stage. The illustrations evoke the musicians' energy with wild flames of sound erupting from speakers and a frequently repeated, sometimes-overdone multicolored circle motif reminiscent of Bryan Collier's circles in John's Secret Dreams (2004). Tomsic effectively explains Les Paul's complex technical achievements, focusing on just a few that make sense for her audience. Her author's note goes into more depth.An exuberant introduction to a musician and creative genius that young readers probably have not heard of before. (Picture book/biography. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In the 1920s, when Lester's piano teacher sent his mother a note saying that he would never be musical, she tore it up, scoffed, and encouraged her son to pursue his dreams. And he did, often disassembling household electronics (with her blessing) to scrounge for parts. Growing up, he learned to play guitar, banjo, and harmonica, as well as build his own crystal radio set, recording device, and amplifier. As a 17-year-old, he took his act on the road, playing music professionally and beginning to work on the Log, one of the first solid-body electric guitars. A lengthy appended note fills in more information about the man and his many accomplishments. Helquist's colorful oil paintings incorporate period details of setting and dress while capturing the amiable tone of the text. Les Paul may not be a familiar name to kids, but that doesn't mean they won't relate to the lively story of this inventive boy whose love of music and tinkering lead him to succeed both as a musician and an inventor. An upbeat picture-book biography.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2019 Booklist