School Library Journal - Write on Irving Berlin
School Library Journal (May 2018)
Gr 2-4–A feel-good biographical look at a great songwriter. Israel Baline arrived on Ellis Island as a small boy fleeing the violence of Russian pogroms. But in the freedom of New York’s Lower East Side, he blossomed into Irving Berlin. From his first song (sold for 37 cents) to iconic hits like “God Bless America” and “White Christmas,” the irrepressible Berlin used his music to express his love for his adopted homeland. Readers will enjoy following the tale of a young person who uses his talent to reinvent himself. Warm and evocative watercolor illustrations create an appropriate atmosphere for this friendly giant of music. Unless readers are familiar with Berlin’s most famous song, the occasional declarations of “God Bless America!” throughout may seem unexpected and out of place, but ultimately they reinforce the musician’s legacy. The author’s note includes additional informational tidbits, but the list of further reading is somewhat dated; the most recent book is published in 2003. VERDICT A good addition to biography collections that are short on musicians.