Irv­ing Berlin: The Immi­grant Boy Who Made Amer­i­ca Sing

Nan­cy Churnin; James Rey Sanchez, illus.
  • Review
By – March 14, 2018

Jew­ish song­writ­ing icon Irv­ing Berlin immi­grat­ed to the Unit­ed States as a child, but was Amer­i­can down to his core. Songs like There’s No Busi­ness Like Show Busi­ness, Alexan­der’s Rag­time Band,” and the ubiq­ui­tous White Christ­mas,” were all Berlin com­po­si­tions. But the song which meant the most to him and for which he refused to take any per­son­al prof­it was God Bless America.”

This rich­ly-col­ored pic­ture biog­ra­phy details Irv­ing Berlin’s younger years as he strug­gled to devel­op his musi­cal tal­ent. The illus­tra­tions make evoca­tive use of shad­ow and light, cre­at­ing a sense of move­ment across the pages. The read­er is drawn into Berlin’s world of New York streets and music-filled rooms.

The text is dense enough to be infor­ma­tive, yet spare enough to keep the atten­tion of young read­ers. This love­ly book is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 7 to 12.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and chil­dren’s book reviews. She has lec­tured on a vari­ety of top­ics relat­ing to chil­dren and books and her great­est joy is read­ing to her grand­chil­dren on both sides of the ocean. Michal lives in Great Neck, NY and Efrat, Israel.

Discussion Questions