It Jes’ Happened

By Elizabeth Bird, "A Fuse #8 Production"

I felt that Christie was really the only person who could do Traylor’s tale justice. . . . In this book the characters in Traylor’s memories walk and dance and pray in ways similar to those found in his art. Christie simultaneously creates something lively and fun while paying a kind of homage to the book’s subject. . .

Tate had a challenge of his own when writing this book. Little is known about Traylor’s youth aside from some broad facts gleaned when he was in his eighties. So how do you write a book when you don’t have many specifics to work with? In Tate’s case the answer was to use Traylor’s art as a starting point. He begins the book by showing Traylor sitting down to make his art. Then we flash back to the past and see some of the moments of the man’s youth. Many of the sections there end with the sentence, “Bill saved up memories of these times deep inside himself.” It becomes a kind of mantra, culminating in a scene later where we see Traylor drawing in earnest, his creations flitting about his head like there are so many they can’t all fit in his brain or even on the page. Tate’s focus is on the memories, whether they are glimpses of the past or drawings on a page. I dare say Traylor would have appreciated that kind of a focus. . .

Give[s] kids a sense of how a person can have power while being effectively invisible to the greater world. Kids themselves are often invisible to others. Maybe Bill will help some of them see that art lets you be heard, albeit silently sometimes. A great book, a great subject, and a great use of two notable author/illustrator talents.

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