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Grade 4-6-In this novel, Chagall tells his own story. The painterly, poetic, first-person narrative is based loosely on his autobiography, My Life. It highlights the key influences on his life and art. My entire family, the whole of Vitebsk, lived inside my paintings. Reflecting his style, the three-dimensional illustrations are constructed from an eclectic assortment of materials-cardboard, fabric, sequins, weeds, and more-and set against vivid colors to create set designs, vignettes of the artist's life. Readers will be fascinated by these unusual pictures and the beautifully told story. However, to fully appreciate this book, they need an acquaintance with Chagall's work and some knowledge of 20th-century world history. Although the narrative is fact based, the line between fact and fiction is unclear. No documentation confirms quotations, thoughts, or feelings. Dated highlights of Chagall's life help to clarify some of this confusion, but children should (and will) enjoy this title as a work of fiction.-Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
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Gr. 2-4. Having illustrated Paolo Guarnieri's A Boy Named Giotto (1999) and Guido Visconti's The Genius of Leonardo (2000), Italian artist Landmann contributes text as well as pictures to a portrait of another influential painter. In a first-person narrative "loosely inspired by" Chagall's autobiography and typeset in dynamic curves,Landmann charts her subject's life from his childhood in the shtetl through his 1941 emigration to the U.S.; though poignant details lend immediacy to the story, the author never addresses whether the occasional quotation marks ("Painting . . . is my window so I can fly to another world") signify Chagall's own words or authorial interpretations. Landmann's remarkable shadowbox constructions underscore her subject's view of the fluid boundaries between the mystical and the mundane, representing literal biographical scenes interspersed with the artist's signature soaring farm animals or spiritual symbols. This will speak most powerfully to readers who have previously encountered Chagall's work--perhaps in Marc Chagall (2001), by Elisabeth Lemke and Thomas David. A time line and photo of the artist anchor the book's more interpretive aspects. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This slim volume literally took my breath away. The illustrations are as magical as Chagall's own work. Read morePublished on July 31, 2013 by CatLady88