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DREAMER FROM THE VILLAGE by Michelle Markel

DREAMER FROM THE VILLAGE

The Story of Marc Chagall

By Michelle Markel (Author) , Emily Lisker (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8050-6373-0
Publisher: Henry Holt

A picture-book treatment of the life of Marc Chagall treads a familiar path: The artist, a genius out of step with the ordinariness of life around him, finds his niche, moving from shtetl to art school to Paris, and ultimately to worldwide acclaim. Appropriately, Markel emphasizes the artist’s unique ways of perceiving things: “Marc knew he was different from other boys. He saw things they didn’t see.” In describing these visions, the text seems to reach for surrealistic simplicity, but sometimes achieves only the downright enigmatic, as some incidents, presumably taken from the artist’s autobiography, are folded awkwardly into the narrative. How, for instance, are young readers to understand, “And one afternoon, the color of his uncle’s skin drifted out of the window, onto the street, and rested on the cupola of the church”? More consistently successful are Lisker’s jewel-toned acrylics, which combine a folk-art style with surrealism to depict the way she imagines the young Chagall might have regarded the world around him. Narrative oddities aside, this is nevertheless a worthwhile introduction for younger children. (biographical summary, glossary) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)