*Starred Review* What do you do when you have a dream and your father is firmly against it? That�s the frame story for this highly readable and inspiring biography of Leonard Bernstein, whose father, Sam, was insistent that music should be a hobby and that Leonard should take over the family beauty-parlor-equipment business. But what Rubin�s involving book makes so clear is that music was Leonard�s life, and even a carping father couldn�t change that. From the moment young Leonard started banging around on a relative�s cast-off piano, the boy wanted more; as the years went on, that meant working to pay for his own lessons, worrying about what avenue his talents should take, and enduring prejudice for his American Jewish heritage, which made conducting seem an unlikely career. The book ends with Bernstein�s unexpected conducting debut at Carnegie Hall, his father in the audience. The determination, charm, and talent of Bernstein overcome the fact that few readers will know him or his music (except perhaps West Side Story). The wonderfully chosen photographs sometimes suffer from muddy reproduction, but the cover�showing a young Bernstein in a T-shirt conducting his heart out�is a sure draw. More about Bernstein comes in an expanded discography that includes videos and a bibliography of adult and youth books. Quotations are sourced, and thumbnail sketches of friends and colleagues mentioned in the book add dimension. Grades 6-9. --Ilene Cooper
About the Author
Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including ANDY WARHOL: POP ART PAINTER (Abrams) and THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR: COMING OF AGE IN TEREZIN (Holiday House), both ALA Notable Books. Susan lives in Malibu, California.