Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Picture for Marc

A Picture for Marc

Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrator:  Matthew Trueman 
For ages 7 to 9
Random House, 2007   ISBN: 978-0375832536

Marc lives in a small town in Russia called Vitebsk. Most people think that is a "dull" place, but Marc Chagall sees all kinds of interesting things as he walks around the town. To him "every moment was a wonder."

One day something very special happens. A boy at school, Victor, shows Marc how to trace pictures. Marc is entranced by this process, and he tries it for himself. He soon discovers that you don't have to trace someone else's pictures or photos to create a picture. Instead you can draw something that is all your own. Soon is he drawing all kinds of things. Victor thinks that Marc is a real "artist." Marc has no idea what an artist is, or what an artist does, so Victor recommends that Marc should go to see an art teacher who lives in the town.

The teacher, Yehuda Pen, shows Marc what an artist does, and Marc is so captivated by the idea that he decides there and then that he wants to be an artist. Unfortunately, Marc's parents are appalled by the idea. Why does their son want to make "pitchkas?" Doesn't he understand that he has to make a living?

In this wonderfully written book, Eric A. Kimmel brings a special time in Marc Chagall's life into focus. Readers will get a sense of what Marc's early life was like. His parents were hardworking and uneducated people who wanted their son to have a job that would provide him with a good living. They did not understand what art was and why it was important to their son.

With sensitivity, humor, and a charismatic voice, the author celebrates the creative spirit, and he reminds us that it is important to follow our dreams, just as Marc did.