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

by Kyo Maclear

Kirkus Pencil in hand, faced with an unjust world, Gyo Fujikawa created a new future.At 5, Japanese American Gyo Fujikawa didn't yet know what she wanted to be. She knew a pencil fit well in her hand, and she liked to fill empty pages with pictures of her world. As she grew, Fujikawa used her passion for art and her mother's activism to guide her education and inspiration. Defying gender conventions, Fujikawa attended college in 1926, when few American women did. Studying in Japan, she exchanged restrictive art classes for travel and aesthetic immersion. Back in the U.S., her family was sent to an internment camp on the West Coast while she began an art career at Disney on the East Coast, causing Fujikawa to lose her desire to draw. Eventually, she found a way to wield her craft to fight injustice. Her first book, Babies, published in 1963, featured racially diverse babies playing together and became a huge success despite publisher prejudice and misgivings. Morstad's artwork precisely balances white space with vignettes, black-and-white illustrations with eye-catching color. Often mimicking Fujikawa's style, Morstad layers engaging details and deep emotional resonance onto Maclear's spare, poetic text. Backmatter includes a detailed timeline with photos and quotes, an extensive note from the creators, and a selected bibliography and sources list.A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist. (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list 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.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In spare, elegant spreads and graceful prose, frequent collaborators Maclear and Morstad (Bloom) tell the story of Japanese-American illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (1908–1998). An artist from the beginning, “she loved the feel of the pencil in her hand.” Fujikawa is treated like an outsider throughout her California upbringing but remains determined, attending college and traveling to Japan. Working as a freelance artist in New York City when WWII breaks out, she’s heartbroken when her family members, along with thousands of other Japanese-American citizens, are interned. In Morstad’s artwork, crisp line drawings alternate with lively watercolor and gouache scenes that revolve around patterned textiles; the art fades with the onset of war and revivifies as Fujikawa sketches the beginnings of Babies. When one spread shows white and black babies together, the publisher rejects it until Fujikawa, recalling “all the times she had felt unseen and unwelcome,” persuades them otherwise. Happily, the book is a success, and “Gyo kept going. Welcoming kids in from the edges, from the corners.” 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. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal 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

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Pencil in hand, faced with an unjust world, Gyo Fujikawa created a new future.At 5, Japanese American Gyo Fujikawa didn't yet know what she wanted to be. She knew a pencil fit well in her hand, and she liked to fill empty pages with pictures of her world. As she grew, Fujikawa used her passion for art and her mother's activism to guide her education and inspiration. Defying gender conventions, Fujikawa attended college in 1926, when few American women did. Studying in Japan, she exchanged restrictive art classes for travel and aesthetic immersion. Back in the U.S., her family was sent to an internment camp on the West Coast while she began an art career at Disney on the East Coast, causing Fujikawa to lose her desire to draw. Eventually, she found a way to wield her craft to fight injustice. Her first book, Babies, published in 1963, featured racially diverse babies playing together and became a huge success despite publisher prejudice and misgivings. Morstad's artwork precisely balances white space with vignettes, black-and-white illustrations with eye-catching color. Often mimicking Fujikawa's style, Morstad layers engaging details and deep emotional resonance onto Maclear's spare, poetic text. Backmatter includes a detailed timeline with photos and quotes, an extensive note from the creators, and a selected bibliography and sources list.A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist. (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list 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.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In spare, elegant spreads and graceful prose, frequent collaborators Maclear and Morstad (Bloom) tell the story of Japanese-American illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (1908–1998). An artist from the beginning, “she loved the feel of the pencil in her hand.” Fujikawa is treated like an outsider throughout her California upbringing but remains determined, attending college and traveling to Japan. Working as a freelance artist in New York City when WWII breaks out, she’s heartbroken when her family members, along with thousands of other Japanese-American citizens, are interned. In Morstad’s artwork, crisp line drawings alternate with lively watercolor and gouache scenes that revolve around patterned textiles; the art fades with the onset of war and revivifies as Fujikawa sketches the beginnings of Babies. When one spread shows white and black babies together, the publisher rejects it until Fujikawa, recalling “all the times she had felt unseen and unwelcome,” persuades them otherwise. Happily, the book is a success, and “Gyo kept going. Welcoming kids in from the edges, from the corners.” 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. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal 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

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Pencil in hand, faced with an unjust world, Gyo Fujikawa created a new future.At 5, Japanese American Gyo Fujikawa didn't yet know what she wanted to be. She knew a pencil fit well in her hand, and she liked to fill empty pages with pictures of her world. As she grew, Fujikawa used her passion for art and her mother's activism to guide her education and inspiration. Defying gender conventions, Fujikawa attended college in 1926, when few American women did. Studying in Japan, she exchanged restrictive art classes for travel and aesthetic immersion. Back in the U.S., her family was sent to an internment camp on the West Coast while she began an art career at Disney on the East Coast, causing Fujikawa to lose her desire to draw. Eventually, she found a way to wield her craft to fight injustice. Her first book, Babies, published in 1963, featured racially diverse babies playing together and became a huge success despite publisher prejudice and misgivings. Morstad's artwork precisely balances white space with vignettes, black-and-white illustrations with eye-catching color. Often mimicking Fujikawa's style, Morstad layers engaging details and deep emotional resonance onto Maclear's spare, poetic text. Backmatter includes a detailed timeline with photos and quotes, an extensive note from the creators, and a selected bibliography and sources list.A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist. (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list 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.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Horn Book Japanese American artist Fujikawa (1908‚€“1998) helped break the color barrier in picture books with her 1963 now-classic Babies. Maclear lucidly outlines a remarkable life of art and creativity, of struggle and perseverance. Growing up in California, Fujikawa ‚€˜sometimes...felt invisible among her mostly white classmates.‚€™ This feeling continued into adulthood and an art career in New York City, especially when her West Coast‚€“based family was incarcerated in WWII internment camps. Morstad's illustrations effectively vary in style and coloring to match events. Timeline. Bib. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In spare, elegant spreads and graceful prose, frequent collaborators Maclear and Morstad (Bloom) tell the story of Japanese-American illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (1908–1998). An artist from the beginning, “she loved the feel of the pencil in her hand.” Fujikawa is treated like an outsider throughout her California upbringing but remains determined, attending college and traveling to Japan. Working as a freelance artist in New York City when WWII breaks out, she’s heartbroken when her family members, along with thousands of other Japanese-American citizens, are interned. In Morstad’s artwork, crisp line drawings alternate with lively watercolor and gouache scenes that revolve around patterned textiles; the art fades with the onset of war and revivifies as Fujikawa sketches the beginnings of Babies. When one spread shows white and black babies together, the publisher rejects it until Fujikawa, recalling “all the times she had felt unseen and unwelcome,” persuades them otherwise. Happily, the book is a success, and “Gyo kept going. Welcoming kids in from the edges, from the corners.” 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. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal 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

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.