About 38, 39 years ago I used to go to the little library just outside Fort Meade, MD with my toddler son. It wasn't a real library. It was an extension that was located in a storefront near a Sears Outlet. They had one shelf of books that a toddler could enjoy and we would go down there once a week with a brown grocery bag and fill it full of books for him and Harlequin romances for me.
Our favorite books were written by a person named Gyo Fujikawa. Honestly, when I thought of this author, I imagined he would be an elderly man who loved to draw and create early stories for the youngest listeners. The books had babies of all colors and ethnicities and they always had color and happiness and joy in the pages. We loved them.
We were a military family and when we got assigned overseas, we took our Gyo Fujikawa books with us and read them in an attic where we cooked on a two burner hotplate, had no car and no telephone. Books were our world.
Can you imagine my absolute joy when I opened this biography and read the story of Gyo Fujikawa, girl, young woman and courageous author/illustrator? I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to read about her and know her story. Her spirit shines through in all of her stories and it's amazing to learn what was happening in her life and what had happened to her and to her family.
She may have felt invisible in some of her years but her books for children shine a light on every child and for sure, gave this one lonely mother something wonderful to share with her son.
Happily, I have one of her books still on our shelf...LET'S GROW A GARDEN. Talk about memories. We will cherish it and share it with grandchildren for years to come.
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
48 pages 978-0062447623 Ages 5-103
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.--from the publisher
48 pages 978-0062447623 Ages 5-103
Keywords: biography, Asian, Japanese American, prejudice, Japanese internment camps, racism, discrimination, artist, author, believing in yourself, being invisible, Character Building Curriculum, Social Studies Curriculum, World War II, American history, 6 year olds, 7 year olds, 8 year olds, 9 year olds, 10 year olds, diversity, diverse books, multicultural, courage