|Author & Illustrator, Landmann|
Title: I am Marc Chagall
Author: Bimba Landmann
Illustrator: Bimba Landmann
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 36
Pub. Date: 2006
Summary: This book follows the life of Marc Chagall in all of his schooling, work, hardships, romance and most importantly, his art. It tells his story that begins in Russia where he grows up in a traditional Jewish family that wants him to study religion and get a hard working job like many of his male family members. He gets distracted easily in school and wants to do more. He convinces his mom to take him to painting school, but when he arrives he discovers that he has a very different method than the rest of the painters. He paints with crazy, bold colors and paints animals in the sky. He faces many hardships trying to make a living being a painter, along with war going on in his country, but does end up marrying his long time sweetheart, Bella, and having a daughter with her. They move wherever they can find money including Paris and Germany and eventually to America. He becomes a famous artist who goes on to paint many wonderful things.
Critique: This book is written in an autobiographical format, but it is written by an author other than Marc Chagall himself. It is written with emotion and thought, like, “Painting is as necessary as bread. It is my window so I can fly to another world” (p. 8). Landmann writes it as if she is Marc Chagall himself, going through his life story, making sure to touch upon all of the major events. This book does give the reader an emotional connection with this artist and gives them an understanding of the hardships that he had to go through in life, but because it isn’t written by Marc Chagall himself, it’s hard to say if all of these encounters, like the conversation with a school teacher or a painter who said he had some talent, were all exactly true. At the end of the book it gives a timeline of Chagall’s life, but it doesn’t give any references as to where she got her information on his life story or if she really knew all of these details about how he was thinking during these life events that she covers in this book. This makes it hard to determine the quality of the book in terms of historical accuracy because there are no sources listed and no evidence that the author did in-depth research.
Response: I think the illustrator’s multimedia creations that served as the background to the story really added a lot of value to the book and I thought they were very interesting. The creations were done with many different materials including cardboard, cloth, buttons, etc. This gave the book almost a 3-D effect, which is a reflection of Marc Chagall’s style of painting. I did some research on Marc Chagall and his work and found that his paintings are very unique, especially for his time. He draws with vivid colors many scenes that are very abnormal. I think it’s wonderful that he really went for his dream, even against his family’s wishes and many odds.
After reading the book, here are a few discussion questions you can use before getting started with an art project inspired by Marc Chagall’s work.
Post discussion questions
A. What county was Marc Chagall from?
B. What time period did he live in? (born 1887, lived 1900’s or 20th century)
C. What events did Marc Chagall live through during this time? (WWI, WWII)
D. How did his surroundings affect his art?
a. He painted to escape the reality happening around him- he created a world of his own.
b. He painted his dreams or fantasies
c. He painted images from his childhood (goats, cows, hometown village, wife Bella)
After the discussion questions, show children some examples of Chagall’s work and ask them to create a multimedia representation of surroundings that have influenced them in their life, just as the surroundings effected Chagall. Allow children to use vivid colors and different forms of media if they desire.
Here are a few examples of Marc Chagall’s works.
Additional Information on Marc Chagall:
"Marc Chagall ." Guggenheim . Guggenheim Foundation , n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/artists/bios/1172>.