Gyo Fujikawa: It began with a web page …

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Gyo Fujikawa

When you grow up with books by an author / illustrator, they become part of your definition of "home" or "reading" or "friend".

Gyo Fujikawa is one of those authors for me. I remember Oh what a busy day in particular.

Gyo Fujikawa's books

What makes Fujikawa's books unforgettable? For starters, she was one of the first to include children of many different races in her books. Not only does it illustrate many different races, it shows them all as they do ordinary things.

Fujikawa did not write history books for toddlers or tried to show a group of people as an independent culture. Instead, she focused on activities and interests that most American children would have shared in the mid-20th century: drinking from the hose! Arguing with each other and reconciling. Hear stories. Hold hands and run through the grass. Books like Oh, What a Busy Day and Babies are an absolute delight and little children love them.

Cover picture of mother goose by Gyo Fujikawa

Her mother goose book contains fewer non-white children than some of her others, but I can't imagine another mother goose book – certainly one from the same period – that contains non-white children at all. Her children's poetry book contains several child-friendly poems, ranging from nursery rhymes to Tennyson to proverbs. A fantastic collection for everyone.

Cover picture of fairy tales and fables by Gyo Fujikawa

Fairy Tales and Fables is strikingly homogeneous in its human characters compared to many other works by Fujikawa. They are mostly white. Other than that, her collection is a delightful mix of well-known stories (like "Jack and the Beanstalk", "The Little Red Hen", "Sleeping Beauty") and lesser-known stories (like "The Wise Man of Gotham"). "The Dragon and the Monkey" and "The Magpie Nest").

It started with one page: How Gyo Fujikawa drew the way

It started with a page is a new picture book biography by Gyo Fujikawa, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad. It Began With a Page was published by HarperCollins in 2019 and is a nice homage to Fujikawa and her art.

The cover picture started with a page about Gyo Fujikawa

Maclear's simple and straightforward text stages Morstad's delicate art, reminiscent of Fujikawa's own art. Fujikawa's life wasn't just roses, and Maclear doesn't protect young readers from events like World War II or how hard Fujikawa had to work to get publishers to publish their books with non-white children.

A nice, sweet story for fans of Fujikawa's works. This is a picture book biography you need to look for the next time you are in the library!

What is your favorite Gyo Fujikawa book? Did you read it as a child? Are you reading them to your children now?

Related reading from the redeemed reader:

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