From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5?Bill Traylor was born into slavery and worked as a farmer most of his life; in the years between 1939 and 1942, the elderly, untutored black artist made over 1200 paintings on scraps of paper and cardboard. Porte has taken 10 pieces of art, reproduced here in full-color, and has told an imaginative tale for each one. Some of the narratives borrow elements from folktales or news articles (sources are noted in the back of the book), while others are simply the author's musings. The few facts known about Traylor's life are given in the introduction. His paintings do possess a naive charm and whimsical humor that tempt one to make up stories about them; Porte's writings, which are light and folksy in tone, explore a world of possibilities. They don't stand alone, but might be useful to a teacher trying to get children to write their own stories based on pictures. Mary E. Lyon's Deep Blues (Scribners, 1994) is a much fuller treatment of Traylor and his art, fleshing out the sketchy biographical data with details of black life in the South from slavery days till just before World War II. It includes reproductions of many of Traylor's paintings (two of which also appear in Porte's book).?Pam Gosner, Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3^-6, younger for reading aloud. Porte chose paintings by African American artist Bill Traylor, who was born into slavery in Alabama, as the starting point for the 10 original stories in this collection. She begins each story by describing, in conversational fashion, what she thinks is happening in the picture. For example, "Figures (For a Circus)" begins, "The people and the animals in this picture are circus performers." While the stories tend to wander and be somewhat insubstantial, they have a certain charm. Traylor's folk art^-style artwork is appealing, comprising mostly found paper and cardboard with pencil, charcoal, and paint details. Creative writing and art teachers may find this useful for encouraging children to try out their own talents. Susan Dove Lempke