Dream­er from the Vil­lage: The Sto­ry of Marc Chagall

Michelle Markel; Emi­ly Lisker, illus.

  • Review
By – August 3, 2012

This love­ly book is a delight­ful intro­duc­tion for chil­dren to the life of Marc Cha­gall. The vibran­cy of the gor­geous illus­tra­tions, paired with the sim­ple and charm­ing text, make it a sure win­ner. Chagall’s Jew­ish roots are lov­ing­ly por­trayed from his first days in hed­er to the hol­i­days he cel­e­brat­ed with his fam­i­ly. For exam­ple, here is the entire text from a vibrant dou­ble page spread of his fam­i­ly observ­ing Passover:

The sea­sons brought won­drous hol­i­days. On Passover, Marc loved the col­or­ful pic­tures in the Hag­gadah. He loved the deep vio­let of the wine in his father’s glass. And when he opened the door for the prophet Eli­jah, sil­ver stars trem­bled on a vel­vet spring sky.”

The illus­tra­tions exude a domes­tic tran­quil­i­ty and beau­ty and even the choice of type­face for the text is appeal­ing in its sim­plic­i­ty. The read­er even­tu­al­ly finds out why Cha­gall is so unusu­al: Marc knew he was dif­fer­ent from oth­er boys. He saw things they didn’t see. On the Sab­bath, enchant­ed by the singing of prayers, Marc saw hous­es float­ing.” Chagall’s devout fam­i­ly regards image-mak­ing as a sin, but Marc goes to art school and even­tu­al­ly ends up in Paris after World War II. At the age of 90 he gets his own exhi­bi­tion at the Lou­vre — one of very few liv­ing artists to be so honored. 

Lisa Sil­ver­man is direc­tor of Sinai Tem­ple’s Blu­men­thal Library in Los Ange­les and a for­mer day school librar­i­an. She is the for­mer chil­dren’s book review edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World.

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