Guitar Genius

Cue the air guitar. It’s time to rock on Perfect Picture Book Friday with GUITAR GENIUS by Kim Tomsic! It’s music, engineering, and rock and roll paired with perseverance, ingenuity, and pure joy. 

Next week, Kim Tomsic gives us a peek “Behind the Scenes” of her writing journey and shares some craft nuggets.. 

Guitar Genius FINAL coverTitle: Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World

Written by: Kim Tomsic

Illustrated by: Brett Helquist

Chronicle 2019

Suitable for ages: 5-10

Themes/topics: music, guitars, perseverance, invention

In a three-story schoolhouse near the Fox River in Waukesha, Wisconsin, children scrambled into the music room.

Tambourines shimmied, drums boomed, and bells clanged. Little Lester loved it all—the punchy pluck of banjo chords, the bright twinkle of piano keys, and the rise and fall of notes.

Lester couldn’t read the music sheets. Those tracks of squiggly lines and black dots didn’t make sense. But it didn’t matter. The fun part was all the sounds he could make.

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.

Activities and Resources:
Teachers’ Guide from Chronicle Books 

Why I like this book:
Music! Rock! and a young inventor! And as you can see in the opening quoted above, Tomsic is a skilled wordsmith. This fun, energetic story takes the reader along as Les Paul’s ideas progress and the young resourceful genius tackles each problem on the way to his famous invention. Fabulous illustrations exude the joy he found in inventing and music, and diagrams enhance the story as a great STEM/STEAM selection. While I knew who Les Paul was, I had no idea he did so much at such a young age. Once again, an opportunity to learn from children’s books! Warning: Guitar Genius just might inspire young inventors to dissemble and repurpose household objects to create something new!

You can visit Kim Tomsic HERE


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

Visit the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge on Kid Lit Frenzy on Wednesdays for more great nonfiction books for kids!

5 thoughts on “Guitar Genius

  1. What a inspiring story for young wanna be inventors! Thanks for introducing me to Les Paul. This book belongs in school libraries or for that one special child you know who likes to tinker. Great choice and lovely review!


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