It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Published by HarperCollins

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Summary:  From an early age, Gyo Fujikawa loved drawing and painting.  She pursued her passion in college, an unusual move for a girl in those days, particularly an Asian-American one.  Traveling to her parents’ homeland of Japan, she learned traditional art techniques that she incorporated into her own work.  Gyo had experienced prejudice as a child, and this became worse in her adult years with the advent of World War II. Living on the East Coast, she was able to stay in her home, but the rest of her family in California, was not so fortunate.  They were sent to prison camps, losing their home and most of their possessions. After the war, Fujikawa continued to paint, and also to observe the continuing struggles for civil rights. Noticing the homogenous portrayals in children’s books, she created a book about babies with all different skin colors.  After many rejections, her book was finally published in 1963, where it became a big seller, and allowing Gyo to illustrate many more books over the next two decades. Includes a timeline of Gyo’s life, a note from the author and illustrator, and a list of sources. 48 pages; grades K-5.

Pros:  There’s a lot to learn and discuss in Gyo Fujikawa’s life.  The illustrations, inspired by Gyo’s own work, are beautiful, with lots of adorable babies.  Readers may be interested ins seeking out the original picture books, many of which are still in print.

Cons:  This may not be a book kids are likely to pick up on their own, and the length and subject matter may make it a better choice for older elementary students.

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