Disclosure: I received this complimentary product (Irving Berlin) through Arcadia Publishing. Affiliate Links will be used, thank you for your support of my blog, costs you nothing to do so, and is so much appreciated.
Irving Berlin is a well-known composer that perhaps you might like to know better. This time of year we often sing I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Wouldn’t it be great if you could introduce yourself and/or your children to who he is? Paul M. Kaplan walks us through this rags-to-riches story of America’s most popular commercial composer in Irving Berlin: from Penniless Immigrant to America’s songwriter.
The Basic Details
Title: Irving Berlin: from penniless immigrant to America’s songwriter
Author: Paul M. Kaplan
Publisher: Pelican Books
Intended Audience: 11-17 years, writing level grade 6-8
Formats: Kindle, Paperback
Reviewed for: Arcadia Publishing
Format received: paperback
About the Author
I was actually unable to discover much about Paul M Kaplan. I did learn that this is his seventh published title and second biography for young people. You can catch a list of his books on GoodReads.
About the book
Irving Berlin and his family fled anti-Jewish Russia before he went on to become one of America’s most popular commercial composers. As a self-taught pianist, Berlin is responsible for many hit songs such as “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” as well as the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Author Paul Kaplan traces the path of the man behind the songs through this rags-to-riches story and Berlin’s place in the music business in the early twentieth century, including the tragedies that befell him on this journey.
Digging Deeper into Irving Berlin
Fifteen chapters round out this 144 page biography of Irving Berlin. Written in an easy to read style with short chapters and loads of pictures.
Chapters are aptly named and stick to the topic and follow easily after each other. I like a biography that follows a life historically and doesn’t jump back and forth. Makes it easier for younger readers too! 🙂
At the close of the book you’ll find a glossary, notes, and references pages. Each of the 45 images clearly states where it came from and helped bring Berlin’s history to life.
So I initially thought this, I can write this review without reading this book. Looks like a decent book, the couple pages I read in the middle read well, ergo easy review. I had a cold though and needed something to read, so I started at the beginning. Lo and behold, I couldn’t put Irving Berlin down. It was so interesting. I love a well-done biography, don’t you?
I learned about immigration, pluggers, singing waiters and more. Learning how the music industry changed over the years was intriguing, and helped me understand a bit of where we are today. Irving Berlin (formally Israel Baline) has led a fascinating life that all started with loving to listen to his dad sing.
I can easily see Mr. Kaplan’s book being used as a biography for youth in grades 7-10. It would be good to have them read it and pick one theme from Berlin’s life to research. It’s good to know more about a country’s history don’t you find?