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Children's Fiction Girls & Women

It Began With a Page

How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

by (author) Kyo Maclear

illustrated by Julie Morstad

Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Girls & Women, Books & Libraries, Art & Architecture
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 9
  • Grade: k to 4


Gyo Fujikawa's iconic children's books are beloved all over the world. Now it's time for Gyo's story to be told -- a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations.

Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo's career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family's internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting -- for herself, her vision, her family and her readers -- and later wrote and illustrated the first children's book to feature children of different races interacting together.

This luminous new book beautifully and openly touches on Gyo's difficult experiences and growth. Through Julie Morstad's exquisite illustrations, alternating between striking black-and-white linework and lush colour, and Kyo Maclear's artful and accessible writing, the story of this cherished figure is told at last.

About the authors

KYO MACLEAR was born in London and grew up in Toronto as the only child of a foreign correspondent. Her father reported on some significant world events, including recording the first interviews with American POWs in North Vietnam. While Stray Love is entirely a work of fiction, it is informed by her experiences living with her father. Her first novel, The Letter Opener (2007), was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artists Award and shortlisted for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Maclear is also an award-winning visual arts writer and the author of two children’s books: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012). Visit her online at

Kyo Maclear's profile page

 span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">Julie Morstadspan lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA"> is an author, illustrator and artist living in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Her most recent book for children, How To, marks her authorial debut, and has received starred reviews in Kirkus, School Library Journal and Quill & Quire, as well as a Governor General's award nomination. Books she has illustrated for children include When You Were Small, recipient of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award; When I Was Small, winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize; and Singing Away the Dark, which was shortlisted for a number of children's literature prizes.


Julie Morstad's profile page


  • Winner, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Short-listed, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable - Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award
  • Winner, Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize
  • Short-listed, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award

Editorial Reviews

One of New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids 2019
One of the Globe and Mail's 100 Books That Shaped 2019
One of the Chicago Public Library's Chicago Best of the Best Books of 2019 under Best Informational Books for Younger Readers
One of Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2019 Picture Books
Recommended by the Spokesman-Review (Spokane)
Featured on Today's "24 beautiful kids’ books that reflect the Asian American experience”

PRAISE FOR It Began With a Page:

"A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist." —STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews
“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.” —STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly
“Maclear and Morstad pack a lot of information into a few pages. This exemplary biography of a pioneer in multicultural children’s books deserves a place in most collections.” STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal
“This beautiful biography offers a fitting tribute to an artist with a lasting legacy in American picture books.” STARRED REVIEW, Booklist
" . . . Sure to enthrall children’s literature fans and aspiring artists alike." —STARRED REVIEW, Quill & Quire

“Maclear and Morstad team up gloriously in this biography. . . . Maclear’s lightness of touch — and Fujikawa’s own style — are beautifully rendered in Morstad’s clean, spacious pages, subtle palette, and restrained, delicate line drawings. Highly recommended.”Toronto Star
“Well worthy of purchase, It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way is a lovingly told story of a trailblazer who fought for inclusivity in children’s books and built a successful career which spanned more than four decades.” —CM Reviews
“This picture book is simple yet informative of a difficult time in our world . . .” —Resource Links

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