"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: GOD BLESS AMERICA, The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin Written by Adah Nuchi and Illustrated by Rob Polivka (C)

*A finished hardcover copy of GOD BLESS AMERICA: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin was sent to me for free by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own. Any problems, concerns, questions, etc. please contact me via email - thebumblegirl@rocketmail.com - Thank you!

Written by Adah Nuchi
Illustrated by Rob Polivka
Release date: June 5th, 2018
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Format read: Hardcover from the publisher.


An inspiring portrait of an immigrant and the gift he gave his new home.

Persecuted as Jews, Izzy Baline and his family emigrated from Russia to New York, where he fell in love with his new country. He heard music everywhere and was full to bursting with his own. Izzy's thump-two-three, ting-a-ling, whee tunes soon brought him acclaim as the sought-after songwriter Irving Berlin. He ignited the imaginations of fellow countrymen and women with his Broadway and Hollywood numbers, crafting tunes that have become classics we still sing today. 

But when darker times came and the nation went to war, it was time for Irving to compose a new kind of song:

A boom-rah-rah song.

A big brass belter.

A loud heart-melter.

A song for America.

And so "God Bless America" was born, the heart-swelling standard that Americans have returned to again and again after its 1918 composition.

This is the tale of how a former refugee gave America one of its most celebrated patriotic songs. With stirring, rhythmic text by Adah Nuchi and delightful, energetic art by Rob Polivka, readers will be ready to hum along to this exuberant picture book. 


*A finished hardcover copy of GOD BLESS AMERICA: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin was sent to me for free by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own.

In 1938, Irving Berlin's song, GOD BLESS AMERICA, debuted on the radio. And so many people liked it so much, "they wanted to replace the national anthem with it." However, some people boycotted it because Berlin was an immigrant... 

The author narrates Berlin's journey from when he was a small child fleeing from Russia with his family, to coming to America and moving to New York's Lower East Side, to how Berlin, even as a small child, knew the importance of having to work hard to help the family... we get to see Berlin fall in love with America and music and how he was able to combine the two by joining the Army to help and do what he did best - create music! Music that most people, even now, sing and hum every day... I had no idea he had done so much for Broadway and the Army - this memoir was so insightful!

Surprisingly, this book spoke to me on so many levels! In the times that we are facing now, I feel that many of us need a book like this for ourselves and our children. A reminder of America's history; a time to reflect and really see where most of us came from and are going... This wonderfully written picture book is a great way to help us teach our children about the "good old days" and what that saying really means and how dreams were possible! And with the right mindset, how everyone's dreams are still possible!

The illustrations are so heartwarming and endearing capturing the time period and pieces of Berlin's life perfectly. The old retro look piqued my little one's curiosity and question after question started to pour out of him - he wanted to know what was happening then and why. Finding out that everything takes place in New York, where we reside in and having it look so different and noticing how things change was so surprising for him... I also truly appreciated that the author added a note summarizing Berlin's biography and a timeline of events in the back of the book. It truly helped to answer his questions quickly and easily; other facts were discussed in animated detail, a few things were also elaborated due to a 4 1/2-year-old's imagination - which made this book memorable for the both of us.

I highly recommend this book to all! It's come to us at the most perfect time. Those who are looking to introduce their little ones to America's history and how diverse and wonderful it was and still is will love everything about this book!


Adah Nuchi is the daughter of immigrants. 

She has worked at the National Book Foundation, served as a children's book editor in New York, and currently works as a literary agent. 

This is her first picture book. 


Rob Polivka is a children's book illustrator and cartoonist living in Texas with his wife and three children. 

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