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

It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
October 08, 2019
Buy This Book
“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 back matter, including a note from the creators, a timeline, archival photos, and further information on Gyo Fujikawa.

“Often mimicking Fujikawa's style, Morstad layers engaging details and deep emotional resonance onto Maclear's spare, poetic text. A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Spare, elegant spreads and graceful prose. Maclear and Morstad’s biography conveys with quiet power how recently segregation reached into every aspect of American life, and how one woman did her part to defeat it.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Editor review

1 review
The Life of Gyo Fujikawa
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
IT BEGAN WITH A PAGE brings us through the journey of Gyo Fujikawa, an incredible Japanese artist and author. Since she was a child, Gyo loved to draw. Whenever a blank white page sat in front of her, she filled it with picture after picture. Drawing came naturally and was always there to comfort her no matter what she was going through.

However, in 1942, the US went to war against Japan and the Japanese Americans were forced to live in camps. When she and her family finally got out, they had to start their lives over from scratch. In the camps, Gyo had been unable to draw, but once she was free, she took job after job as an artist. When she realized the importance of books, she began putting on of her own together. It consisted of babies of all different colors. Her publisher was reluctant to publish it because mixing cultures wasn't done in the 1960s. However, they changed their minds and her multicultural babies became a hit.

Gyo Fujikawa is an artist who was ahead of her time. She saw people as people and not by the color of their skins. Even though she had a rough journey, Gyo never gave up drawing and stayed true to herself. She paved the way for more authors to include multicultural characters.

Final Verdict: I would recommend this to fans of history, strong women, and drawing.
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