|Written by Esther Callens|
|Thursday, 24 May 2012 11:31|
It just happened is the known catchphrase many parents have come to expect when asking their youngster how or why they committed a certain act. However, this axiom now takes on a new meaning for children and it is one that does not mean they have gotten in trouble. It Jes’ Happened –When Bill Traylor Started To Draw by Don Tate (debut author) with R. Gregory Christie’s illustrations is the title of a remarkable children’s book. Detailing the life of one of Alabama impressive folk artists, It Jes’ Happened offers a marvelous story.
It Jes’ Happened is the story of Bill Traylor. He was born into slavery in 1854 near Benton, Alabama. Bill worked hard even while he was young as his master owned a cotton plantation. This was something that Bill would never forget. In 1865, the Civil War ended and many slaves left their former masters. However, Bill and his family stayed on at their former master’s farm and worked as sharecroppers.
Bill grew up and married a woman named Lorisa. They eventually had a lot of children. Around the mid-thirties Bill’s wife was deceased and his children had moved away. So at the age of 81, Bill moved to Montgomery. Work was scarce for Bill as he was in pain due to rheumatism. In 1939, Bill started to draw. Using old pieces of paper, he began to sketch pictures of people, places and things that he remembered.
He became quite good at it and often used the sidewalk as his workshop. Bill’s art work was so good that he caught the attention of an artist named Charles Shannon. Charles often bought pieces of Bill’s work and eventually arranged for an exhibition showcasing some of Bill’s pieces.
It Jes’ Happened offers an excellent story and illustration that any child would love, posing a wonderful history lesson about a brilliant self-taught artist. It Jes’ Happened is the winner of the Lee and Low New Voices Award Honor.