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. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.