Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing

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Product Details

$17.99  $16.73
Creston Books
Publish Date
11.2 X 8.2 X 0.5 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Nancy Churnin's first book, The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, made the Texas 2x2 reading list, the Texas Topaz Nonfiction list, the New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, the Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College, and the Illinois Monarch Award Master List. Nancy writes for the Arts/Entertainment section of The Dallas Morning News.


"Inventive artwork that uses a mix of shapes and shadow draws children into the story of the immigrant boy whose music captured the soul of America. The first spread shows an array of notes streaming from Berlin's mouth as he passes the Statue of Liberty, and throughout the book, the focus is on Berlin's immigrant roots and the love he feels for his new country, which helps him win such success. Although the text is factual, Churnin does take occasional liberties, as in an early scene where the child Berlin promises himself he's going to write a song for the Statue of Liberty. The evocative prose brings readers close to tenement life, describing it with sounds like the 'steady treadle of the sewing machine' and 'the thump of his mother kneading dough.' Details of Berlin's adult life will be found, for the most part, in the author's note and time line. The last couple of pages capsulize his career and talk about the effect of 'God Bless America' on the country. An inviting look at a timeless life."--Booklist

-- (3/11/2020 12:00:00 AM)

"The story of songwriter and composer Irving Berlin's humble beginnings and rise to Broadway and Grammy fame takes shape in an engaging biography that highlights the compassion, generosity, and patriotism that characterized his life. Berlin is depicted wrapped in an expressive, bright red scarf that swirls and dances along the streets of New York along with lines of musical notes. Children will enjoy learning about the inspiration behind such well-known hits as 'White Christmas' and 'God Bless America.'--Foreword Reviews

-- (3/11/2020 12:00:00 AM)

"A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City's Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York's harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin's text focuses on Berlin's early years and how his mother's words were an inspiration for 'God Bless America.' She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author's note. Sanchez's digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his 'home sweet home.'"--Kirkus Reviews

-- (3/11/2020 12:00:00 AM)

"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."--Publishers Weekly

-- (3/11/2020 12:00:00 AM)

"The Jewish Experience in America

Below is a selection of books that appeared on the 'Love Your Neighbor' book lists as well as other new titles that will help children learn about the Jewish religion, culture, history, and contemporary Jewish life.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the song 'God Bless America, ' three new picture books about its composer, Irving Berlin, were published in 2018, each focusing on slightly different aspects of his story as a Jewish immigrant fleeing pogroms in Russia and the prejudices and challenges he faced in America. Churnin emphasizes the beginnings of Berlin's career while Kimmelman gives more attention to his family and his service in both world wars. Focusing on the creation of 'God Bless America' and its legacy, Nuchi's text is more concise and the most fun to read aloud. The illustrations all differ in style, palette, mood, and medium. All three books include extensive back matter."--School Library Journal

-- (2/1/2019 12:00:00 AM)