It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad

An artful, appealing picture-book biography recounts the life of a Gyo Fujikawa,... read more

An artful, appealing picture-book biography recounts the life of a Gyo Fujikawa, a trailblazing Japanese American artist committed to creating picture books depicting a multiracial world. Born in 1908, Fujikawa grew up on the west coast. She studied in the United States, and in Japan, where she rebelled against formal art rules and learned independently. She was living on the east coast during World War II and was not imprisoned like Japanese on the west coast, but her family was. Drawing was a comfort, and she wondered if art might comfort others. Her first solo book, Babies, depicted Black and brown and white babies. “But the publisher said no. / No to mixing white babies and black babies …. But Gyo would not budge … she waited for them to rethink their decision.” Babies was published in 1963 to great success. The illustration style here is distinctive from Fujikawa’s and yet there is a pleasing unity between them, so that when Fujikawa’s characters first appear, they look like they are part of the same universe. A timeline with photographs, and an author’s note as child-friendly as it is informative, rounds out this work of exemplary nonfiction for young children. (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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