Greenfeld, who knew Chagall personally and is the author of other children's books on art--as well as the classic Books: From Writer to Reader (1976; rev. ed. 1988)--puts Chagall's work in the context of his remarkable life. Born in 1887, near Vitebsk, to working-class parents, the boy overcame not only his circumstances but the Jewish proscription against making ""graven images"" in order to become an artist; moreover, his first teachers were unsympathetic to his unique, dreamlike vision. With well-chosen anecdotes, Greenfeld brings Chagall to life as he thrived despite poverty, moved from St. Petersburg to Paris to New York and back to France, and continued to experiment with new materials and ideas well into his tenth decade. Thirty paintings, beautifully reproduced in color, plus 14 drawings illustrate the relationship between Chagall's life and art; they are scrupulously documented at the conclusion, though--in the absence of an index--more cross-referencing in the text would have been helpful. A handsome, fascinating introduction--the first in the ""First Impressions"" series--to a versatile man and the extraordinary mixture of poetic realism, fantasy, and the visual symbols that became his trademarks.