IT JES' HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR STARTED TO DRAW written by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Lee & Low Books, April 2012)
A biography of outsider artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of 83 began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life.
As an enslaved boy on an Alabama farm in the early 1860s, Bill Traylor worked in the hot cotton fields. After slavery ended, Bill's family stayed on the land as sharecroppers.
By the time he was 79, Bill was all alone in the world. Lonely, poor and eventually homeless, he wandered the downtown streets of Montgomery, Alabama. But deep within himself Bill had a reservoir of memories of his lifetime spent on the land. When he was 83 years old, these memories blossomed into pictures. Bill began to draw people and places from his earlier life, as well as scenes from the busy city around him. Today, Bill Traylor is considered one of the most important American self-taught artists.