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Published on May 28th, 2021 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Exclusive: Russell Hirtzel & Shannon Bex On The New Vooks Title “Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing”

As founded in 2018, Vooks is reportedly the world’s first streaming platform bringing storybooks to life through animation. With an expansive library of titles, the Vooks storybook experience adds slight animation, sound and narration to classic and award-winning books that are loved by parents and educators alike. The kid-safe and ad-free streaming library of read-aloud animated storybooks transforms the reading experience by bringing words to life in order to spark every child’s imagination. Vooks combines the love, trust and safety of children’s books with the convenience of online streaming, for a whole new way to experience stories.

Earlier this month, Vooks announced the launch of the newly-animated 2018 biographical offering Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing. The musical tale was written by Nancy Churnin, with beautiful illustrations from James Rey Sanchez, an all-new original score created by Vooks composer Aaron Peterson under the musical direction of Grant Harold, and read by Matthew Christopher Thompson. Thompson — as fate would have it — is the grandson of Johnny V.R. Thompson, original cast member of Berlin’s 1949 musical Miss Liberty and reportedly the voice inspiration behind Berlin’s “Paris Wakes Up And Smiles.”

Commented Russell Hirtzel, Vooks Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer to The Hype Magazine: “Irving Berlin’s story of overcoming obstacles to live his dream is something every music lover will appreciate. He’s one of the most influential songwriters of all time, and the diverse blend of musicians who have covered — and continue to cover — his work is a true testament to that. Berlin, and artists like him have had a direct influence on many of the songs we love, but classic and contemporary, making this a must-read for music lovers of all ages.”

Added Shannon Bex, Vooks Chief Communications Officer and Co-Founder to The Hype Magazine: “Music is a vital part of life, and can be especially integral for children as they continue to grow and learn. With musical storybooks such as this, Vooks strives to give parents, teachers, and caregivers useful tools that will help them integrate music into the lives of their children and students in a fun and meaningful way. We hope it will help open the door for further exploration, introducing children to a vast and unique world of music with books covering some of the medium’s most important figures who continue to influence and inspire generations of fans and artists today.”

The storybook’s original score provides a meaningful soundtrack as Berlin’s life unfolds from page to page. The music was created for the book by the aforementioned Aaron Peterson, who dedicated many hours to studying Berlin’s classic catalog, which includes “White Christmas,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Happy Holiday,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and “Cheek To Cheek.” Together with a team of musicians playing trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, piano and drums, Peterson scored the book in the same fashion as a film, devising a multi-layered soundtrack meant to evoke some of Berlin’s finest melodies while standing uniquely on its own.

Vooks is available worldwide and can be enjoyed on all popular devices including Apple’s iPad, and iPhone and Apple TV, as well as Android platforms and devices, Roku, and Amazon TV Fire Stick. Readers can enjoy unlimited access to the platform’s diverse content library for $4.99 per month or $49.99 a year. The platform also offers a free seven-day, credit card free trial for those who would like to interact with Vooks before purchasing. More information on Vooks and Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing can be found here, here and here.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."


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