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

Kyo Maclear (Author) Julie Morstad (Illustrator)


* 4 Starred Reviews *

* An Indie Next List Pick *

"Playful, bold, and, much like its subject, full of grace." --Jillian Tamaki, Caldecott Honor winner for This One Summer

"It Began with a Page tells Gyo Fujikawa's] story beautifully, in picture-book form." --The New Yorker

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 backmatter, including a note from the creators, a timeline, archival photos, and further information on Gyo Fujikawa.

A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2019

A Kirkus Best of 2019 Picture Book

A 2020 ALSC Notable Children's Book

A 2020 Orbis Pictus Recommended Title awarded annually by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)

Featured in the 2019 Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators

--Jillian Tamaki, Caldecott Honor winner for This One Summer

Product Details

$17.99  $16.55
Publish Date
October 08, 2019
9.3 X 0.4 X 11.3 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Kyo Maclear is the author of many books for children, including Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and some for adults. When she was a little girl, she wanted very badly to be a fashion designer. She spent countless hours drawing odd dresses, including a very special cloud dress. Her style muses include her mother, Patti Smith, the residents of Moominvalley, and anyone with a sense of casual and androgynous flair. Though she loved writing about Schiaparelli's signature color, shocking pink, Kyo's own favorite color is blue. She plants her garden with flowers in all shades of blue, and in spring when they bloom, it's a blue extravaganza. Kyo makes her home in Toronto, where she lives with her two sons and husband, a musician. You can find her at

Julie Morstad is the author and illustrator of Today and How To. She has illustrated many books for children, including Swan, The Dress and the Girl, This Is Sadie, and Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Julie makes her home in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she lives with her family. You can find her at


"Many illustrations recall the elegance and simplicity of Fujikawa's own work... This exemplary biography of a pioneer in multicultural children's books deserves a place in most collections."--School Library Journal (starred review)
"It Began with a Page... tells [Gyo Fujikawa's] story beautifully, in picture-book form."--The New Yorker
"Often mimicking Fujikawa's style, Morstad layers engaging details and deep emotional resonance onto Maclear's spare, poetic text...A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A breathtakingly beautiful tribute to a woman who deserves much wider recognition. Morstad is the perfect interpreter for both Fujikawa's life and art-both share a profound sensitivity to the inner lives of children. It Began with a Page is playful, bold and, much like its subject, full of grace."--Jillian Tamaki, Caldecott Honor winner for This One Summer
"Spare, elegant spreads and graceful prose...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."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Julie Morstad has so effortlessly captured the essence of Gyo Fujikawa's art with a fresh and contemporary twist."--Salina Yoon, creator of the Penguin picture book series
"In spare lyrical text, Kyo Maclear tells the story of Japanese-American children's author and illustrator Gyo Fujikawa...Julie Morstad's illustrations are a confident mix of color and black-and-white images in dynamic compositions...Her sweet and stylish babies on the final pages capture the spirit of Gyo's originals."--New York Times Book Review
"Written and illustrated with clean, spare lines, the book reveals emotions in an understated manner...This beautiful biography offers a fitting tribute to an artist with a lasting legacy in American picture books."--Booklist (starred review)