Booklist - Write On, Irving Berlin!
Irving Berlin gets the full picture-book treatment in this appealing introduction to the songwriter. Berlin’s story begins as the five-year-old arrives in the United States in 1893 along with his family, fleeing the Russian pogroms. Left fatherless at 13, he makes money by singing and making up tunes, eventually writing the smash hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Kimmelman does a fine job of touching on both Berlin’s professional and personal lives and doesn’t shy away from mentioning that not everyone liked the fact that a Jewish immigrant was writing America’s most beloved songs, like “White Christmas.” Her text is long in spots, but readers will come away with a sense of the man and what his music meant to America, especially in times of war. Gardner’s artwork, which captures Berlin’s exuberance, is displayed nicely on oversize pages. The mostly realistic style is softened on some spreads that are executed in chalks, giving the art the gauzy feel of memory. A fine mix of music and the immigrant experience.