Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-07-06 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

" At the start I was worried it wouldn't get to where I was expecting/hoping it would... but of course it did! Definitely need to add this to my classroom library! " said.

" This picture book biography is so beautifully written and it's such an inspirational story. It gave me goosebumps! " said.

" Great picture book/biography about a Russian Immigrant and how he become the person to write "God Bless America". " said.

"As families sit outside on blankets together to enjoy fireworks displays this summer, they are certain to hear some of Irving Berlin's music, especially "God Bless America". The days leading up to the Fourth of July would be a terrific time to share this interesting picture book biography that tells the story of young Irving Berlin, who fled Russia with his family at the end of the nineteenth century. A poor, homeless young man, Berlin worked very hard as a waiter and learned to write music. As his songs became more famous, people all across America were encouraged by his music during rough times. It might be fun to find some of his music on the internet and share it with youngsters who are probably familiar with several of the songs (even if they don't know it). There is an author's note and a timeline at the back of the book that might serve as a good starting point for further research." said.

"I've known something of Irving Berlin's life before, that he wrote Alexander's Ragtime Band, White Christmas and God Bless America, but Nancy Churnin has managed to write of his life from his poor beginnings as an immigrant in NYC to his extraordinary successes as a composer in a way to introduce him to young children, or those readers who want to read a short biography as a start to research. He came from Russia, in a poor family when his father died when Irving was twelve, he had to quit school to try to find ways to earn pennies to help. He loved music and singing so much that when one time he felt so full with music, he burst into song. People liked that and threw pennies. He was excited, soon was noticed by a restaurant owner who hired him as a singing waiter. The story really is a "rags to riches" tale. With a friend, he wrote his first song and they sold it for 37 cents! Irving never had formal music training, used a "transposing" machine eventually to write his compositions. The book shares a few songs I didn't know he wrote, like the score of Annie Get Your Gun that has "There's No Business Like Show Business", and a most famous one is "White Christmas. There are many others.
There is an author's note and a timeline added in the backmatter.
" said.

"This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5

This children's picture book about one of America's greatest songwriters - who wasn't actually born in the United States of America - is an absolutely marvelous biographical tribute. Author Nancy Churnin somehow manages to tell the entire Irving Berlin life story in thirty-two gorgeously illustrated pages, hitting the highlights, catching the struggles and the passions of the young man who gave us songs such as "Alexander's Ragtime Band" "Easter Parade" "White Christmas" and "God Bless America."

Although I had heard it before, I had forgotten that Irving Berlin never took any money, personally, for "God Bless America" but instead donated the proceeds to Girl and Boy Scouts.

Churnin captures the spirit of the American Dream - that America is a land of infinite possibilities and that you can do or be anything or anyone if you want it badly enough and work for it. Who would have guessed that a Russian immigrant child would become one of America's greatest song-writers?

James Rey Sanchez is the artist for the book and his work is a tremendous complement to the book. The art reminds me of the stylistic animation from the United Productions of America and Warner Brothers studios of the 1950's. It is very eye-catching and children will have a lot to look at and not be bored while parents read the book out loud.

Looking for a good book? Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing by Nancy Churnin and James Rey Sanchez is an all-around wonderful book and should be in every library in the country and on as many family bookshelves as possible.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
" said.

"Irving Berlin, one of the most famous American composers of the Twentieth Century, if not THE most famous, immigrated to the United States from Western Siberia. He was just five years old when he laid eyes on the Statue of Liberty and his mother uttered those famous words, “God bless America.” His father had been a cantor and it was his influence, along with his experiences growing up in New York's lower east side (not stated specifically in the text but the illustrations with an image of Katz’s delicatessen and the tenements clearly suggest it) with immigrants from around the world that became music to his ears. Upon his father’s death at the age of 13, he became homeless and then began to sing in the street for pennies. That one experience led to the beginning of his career as a composer. Incredibly he didn’t read music until much later in his life.

This book will warm your heart. Nancy Churnin’s words are beautifully lyrical and the illustrations are beyond gorgeous. In this day and age, this book is also a wonderful reminder that America is a country of immigrants. And that it was Berlin, an immigrant, who composed one of America’s most patriotic songs, “God Bless America.” I highly recommend this book.
" said.

"In Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made American Sing, Nancy Churnin delivers another inspiring picture book biography. Beginning with young Irving arriving in New York on a boat from Russia, readers understand that for Irving, music and his love for America were inseparable. As with most immigrants, life in America was at first difficult for Irving, but by following his passion for music, he eventually found success and made important contributions to America through his songs.

Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made American Sing can be used as a stand-alone biography, and is also useful for building background knowledge related to immigration, fine arts, New York, and patriotism. With its thorough back matter and especially fine binding, this is a worthwhile addition to school and home bookshelves.

" said.

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