It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad is a different picture book. It is a picture book about someone who fought not only to be seen themselves, but for others to be seen too. In the 1920’s Gyo Fujikawa did what few women and even fewer Japanese people did: she went to college. She did what few people in the 1960’s did: she put pictures of all races of babies on the same page in a book. She was a trailblazer before it was “cool.” Gyo Fujikawa’s life comes alive in this picture book biography (an afterwards expands on the historical information of her life).
This book was just cool. I knew about some of Fujikawa’s work, but never really registered that it was not just a name on a book. There was a story and behind it. Perhaps that was because, while Fujikawa’s work is nice, it never “grabbed me;” but this book made me want to go out and learn more about the artist. This book is a great addition for the classroom or library. But it will need to be “pushed” as the average reader will not find it “accidently” or “on their own.” This book is not just for artists, but for people studying women’s history or diverse history. In many ways, this book is for the adult more than the child, but any age can find something to enjoy. However, as it is a longer picture book, the very young reader/listener will not necessarily be grabbed by it, but the aged 6 to 8 should be able to sit and enjoy. However, if used properly, it could be adapted for the even older reader despite the picture book format.
While the artwork is lovely, it is there to be more realistic and show the story and life of Fujikawa, not invoke the style of the artist. Each detail and the colors are there to enhance the story and not to reproduce Fujikawa’s work. Though, there are hints to their style every so often. The illustrations are a story within themselves but are also there to compliment the text. They help make a pretty powerful story cozy at the same time.
Almost 400 words later and all I really wanted to say was READ THIS BOOK. Please. Thank you.