The creators of Julia, Child present a picture book portrait of the Japanese-American picture book illustrator and diversity activist, discussing her imprisonment in a World War II internment camp and her efforts to represent multicultural kids in her art. 35,000 first printing. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)
* 4 Starred Reviews *
* An Indie Next List Pick *
&;Playful, bold, and, much like its subject, full of grace.&; &;Jillian Tamaki, Caldecott Honor winner for This One Summer
&;It Began with a Page tells [Gyo Fujikawa's] story beautifully, in picture-book form.&; &;The New Yorker
From beloved team Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad (creators of Julia, Child and Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli) comes an elegant picture book biography that portrays the most moving moments in the life of Gyo Fujikawa, a groundbreaking Japanese American hero in the fight for racial diversity in picture books.
Equal parts picture book biography, inspiring story, and a look at racial diversity in America, It Began with a Page is a gem for any book lover, librarian, or child who dares to dream big.
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 family was forced to abandon everything and was taken to an internment camp in Arkansas.
Far away from home, Gyo worked as an illustrator in New York while her innocent family was imprisoned. 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 they saw themselves represented.
Gyo&;s book Babies was initially rejected by her publisher, but after she insisted, they finally relented, and Babies went on to sell almost two million copies. Gyo&;s books paved the way for publishers, teachers, and readers to see what we can be when we welcome others into our world.
The book includes extensive backmatter, including a note from the creators, a timeline, archival photos, and further information on Gyo Fujikawa.
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2019
A Kirkus Best of 2019 Picture Book
A 2020 ALSC Notable Children's Book
A 2020 Orbis Pictus Recommended Title awarded annually by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)
Featured in the 2019 Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators
From the time she was a little girl, Gyo Fujikawa drew pictures.
Gyo&;s parents had come to California from Japan looking for a better life, but sometimes Gyo felt invisible. When high school came, Gyo&;s teachers recognized her gift for creating beautiful art and got behind her. Art became her profession, and now her drawings were in magazines and store window displays.
Eventually, Gyo was asked to illustrate picture books for children. She envisioned a diverse cast of characters, explaining that she wanted &;an international set of babies, little black babies, Asian babies, all kinds of babies&; in the pages of her books.
Had it ever been done before?
Her Babies, published in 1963, welcomed children of all colors into the pages of a picture book for the first time, paving the way for publishers, teachers, readers, and future writers to imagine a more inclusive world.
From the beloved team of Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad comes a story that poignantly portrays the life of Gyo Fujikawa, a groundbreaking hero in the fight for racial diversity in picture books.
*Starred Review* Growing up in a Japanese American family in California, Gyo Fujikawa enjoyed drawing. Each day, "she started with an empty white page . . . and filled it with pictures." Though lonely at her first school, she found friends after her family moved to an island where many Japanese Americans lived. She studied art in college, traveled to Japan, and worked for Disney Studios in New York before beginning her freelance career as an artist and picture-book illustrator. Disheartened during WWII, when her family was sent to an internment camp, she continued working. Beginning with Babies (1963), her first racially inclusive picture book, she insisted that children shouldn't be segregated on the page, and she prevailed. An appended note provides information on Fujikawa's career, her passion for social justice, and her role as a trailblazer. Written and illustrated with clean, spare lines, the book reveals emotions in an understated manner. When her family was interned, the text includes phrases such as "no pictures would come" and "her heart would not mend." In the artwork, created with liquid watercolor, gouache, and pencil crayons, Morstad uses line, color, and texture with finesse. This beautiful biography offers a fitting tribute to an artist with a lasting legacy in American picture books. Grades K-3. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
School Library Journal Reviews
K-Gr 4—When Gyo Fujikawa submitted the first book she had written and illustrated, her publishers hesitated. In 1963, a book with black, white, and Asian babies engaged in daily activities was highly unusual. Maclear and Morstad introduce readers to the artist whose quiet insistence led to the publication of the groundbreaking work. Born in California in 1908, Fujikawa was often ignored by white classmates but felt the support of her high school teachers. Her varied career included painting murals, working for Walt Disney Studios, and drawing for magazines. When her West Coast family was sent to an internment camp in 1942, she kept working to help support them. Her commitment to equality and justice helped promote diverse children's books, including more than 50 she created. Many illustrations recall the elegance and simplicity of Fujikawa's own work with plain backgrounds that allow readers to focus on the main subjects: a night scene of her mother burning possessions before the family's forced departure. Tiny figures dwarfed by barracks at the internment camp. A colorful swirling kimono during Fujikawa's 1932 study visit to Japan contrasts with black-and-white drawings of times of sadness. Two pages of photos and chronological highlights follow the main text. VERDICT Maclear and Morstad pack a lot of information into a few pages. This exemplary biography of a pioneer in multicultural children's books deserves a place in most collections.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato
Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.