It Began With a Page

How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

We are building a library because we love books and we love to read so much. While this space will most often feature stories and discoveries we make in the process of building our library, I will occasionally write about a book that I love too much not to share with you.

Here is a book I recently found and I LOVE it.

This elegant picture book would make a lovely gift for any child or adult (picture books are not just for children; I will write more about this idea in a future post). It is the perfect book for anyone who you think would be interested in a moving story (written by Kyo Maclear), beautiful illustrations (by Julie Morstad), and learning about another brave woman who changed history.

A biographical picture book, it includes moving moments in the life of Gyo Fujikawa, a groundbreaking Japanese American hero who spoke up for racial diversity in picture books.

Growing up in California, Gyo Fujikawa always knew that she wanted to be an artist. She was raised among strong women, including her mother and teachers, who encouraged her to fight for what she believed in. During World War II, Gyo’s Japanese-American family was forced to abandon their home and belongings and imprisoned in an internment camp in Arkansas.

In the meantime, Gyo was living in New York working as an illustrator. This was such a difficult time for Gyo. Seeing the diversity around her and feeling pangs from her own childhood, Gyo became determined to show all types of children in the pages of her books. There had to be a world where every child saw themselves represented. Her book Babies, initially rejected, was published in 1963 and stands as a landmark: it was the first children’s book to depict infants of different races and nations sharing growing experiences. Two million copies were sold. Fujikawa’s books have been translated into 17 languages and are read in more than 22 countries.

This exquisite book includes additional information on Gyo Fujikawa, a bibliography, a note from the creators, a timeline, and archival photos.

It Began With a Page is written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Pamela Beere Briggs
Pamela Beere Briggs is a writer and filmmaker who never forgot her joyful time in a Japanese kindergarten. It led her to believe that every child should have the opportunity to love learning. She will be sending missives from her home and backyard. Reuse and Repair are two of her favorite explorations.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Molly Fling
    November 14, 2019

    I love her illustrations. I purchased her Twas the Night Before Christmas because I LOVE the illustration of the characters, even though I have no children to share it with. Thank you for this post.

    Reply
    1. Pamela Beere Briggs
      Pamela Beere Briggs
      December 4, 2019

      You are so welcome, Molly. I love beautifully illustrated children’s books and will be posting some of my favorites beginning tomorrow.

      Reply

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