It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear; illustrated by Julie Morstad
Although you may not recognize the name Gyo Fujikawa, you are likely familiar with her iconic board books featuring multi-racial babies. The illustrations in this picture book biography mimic Fujikawa's spare and delicate style. Her life spanned the twentieth century and was shaped by several major events, most notably the Japanese internment during WWII and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. This biography highlights themes of persistence, the power of books, and the importance of social justice. It includes several pages of back matter, with a timeline, quotes, and information about the process of creating the book.
Listen to the story
Do a craft!
Japanese Lanterns adorn the streets of Japan during festivals and holidays! Let's make paper lanterns! Take-and-Make Japanese Paper Lantern kits can be picked up curbside starting on March 16th. Call or email the library at 426-3581 or email@example.com to schedule a pickup. Instructions for the craft here.
Big Ideas & enduring Understanding
Gyo Fujikawa was a leader in representing diversity in children’s books.
Events in the world around us shapes our lives and our choices.
Art can help to change the world.
Dig a little Deeper
Beyond the Book: Ideas, Questions, Projects and Connections:
Gyo Fujikawa was a first generation Japanese American, and she drew inspiration from Japanese culture in her art. Use the Vermont Online Library Elementary database to learn about Japanese art and culture, including the artists Hiroshige, Utamaro, and Hokusai, the techniques of brush painting and woodblock printing, and the significance of traditional Japanese dress, such as kimono. Several related craft activities are available at: https://thecraftyclassroom.com/crafts/japan-crafts-for-kids/
Look at a selection of your favorite picture books, and look at who the characters are. Do those books represent the wide diversity of ways that people can exist in the world? These blog posts from the Tarrant Institute at UVM describe the student Diversity Detectives at Ottauquechee School: https://tiie.w3.uvm.edu/blog/library-audit/#.XywhE55KjIU
Begin with a page. Take an empty white page and fill it with pictures and words that show what a “bigger, better world” would look like.
Why does Gyo feel like anything is possible at home, but not at school? Brainstorm ways that we can ensure everyone feels welcome in our community. ReadAll Are Welcomeby Alexandra Penfold or The Day You Beginby Jacqueline Woodson.
Using pavement as your page, create a chalk illustration showing what a “bigger, better world” would look like.
Why is Gyo Fujikawa’s work as an artist and book creator important?
How did Gyo Fujikawa’s life experiences inform her work?
Why did it “begin with a page?”
How did Gyo Fujikawa feel in elementary and high school?
Why did the US government order Japanese Americans “to leave their homes, their schools, their pets, their everything?” How did this make Gyo Fujikawa feel?
Why is it important that Fujikawa said, “a book can be anything that anyone imagines it to be?”
Illustrator Julie Morstad’s website: https://juliemorstad.com/ Looking at Morstad’s artwork on her website https://juliemorstad.bigcartel.com/, can you see a connection to Gyo Fujikawa-do your students think Morstad might have been influenced by Fujikawa?