Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing

Nancy Churnin, illus. by James Rey Sanchez. Creston, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939547-44-6
Irving Berlin and his family arrived in America as countless immigrant families did: in New York Harbor, with the Statue of Liberty serving as a welcoming beacon (“ ‘God bless America,’ Irving whispered”). Through vivid storytelling, Churnin describes young Irving’s impressions of the unfamiliar city: “Walking home, the melodies in his head mixed with the crack of stickball games, the wail of the ragmen, and the creak of cartwheels on the cobblestones.” After his father’s death, Berlin earns money by writing and singing songs on the street, then at a restaurant; a fortuitous job at a song-writing company leads to his success. Yet Churnin recounts how fame doesn’t diminish Berlin’s gratitude for his life in America: he gave all of the proceeds for his hugely popular song “God Bless America” to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Sanchez’s handsomely stylized graphics offer visual depth that hints at the many stories unfolding within Berlin’s New York City community; readers will recognize Berlin in the crowds by his long red scarf, which curls emotively throughout the pages. Ages 7–12. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Genre: Children's
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