I think I liked Bryan Collier's illustrations even better here than for the Booker T. Washington book. He uses many of the same techniques and the style is about the same. One of my favorite things is the way he leaves that little edge of handmade tan paper at the edge of the spread. It makes me think I have a lot more pages open than I have--an interesting postmodern technique without the silliness we usually expect from postmodern efforts. It's still playful.
The story is an interesting biography of a vital artist, and continues in the tradition of less-known and valued figures outside the 'pantheon'. I loved the author/illustrator notes at the end of the book about their research into Dave's work. There is a hint of a darker story underneath here that Laban Hill chooses to leave alone. Dave lost his leg! Sure, it could have been regular vicissitudes of life in the 1800s. But he was a slave who could read and write and who 'had legs' in terms of ability and talent. I appreciate that Hill let the story be about Dave's brilliance and his respected work, but there is no darker side to being a slave represented in this book. Is this a current trend in theory?