Celebrating Gyo

Gyo Fujikawa is recognized for being the first mainstream illustrator to show children of many different races in her books. She does so in a beautiful, natural way—not a “trying-to-be-politically-correct” way.  Gyo was an author/illustrator that I never fully appreciated until I had my daughter.  As an adult, I’m captivated by both the beauty of pictures and the storyline; my boys are too.  But Gyo’s books dwell happily in the beautiful world with just a quirky amount of prose. Her books are perfect “looking books.”  And they lend themselves well to children finding and identifying themselves (and siblings… and every friend they have… ahem) with someone on the page.  This is especially important for my four year old who squeals in delight at the abundance of red-heads in her books. (She especially sees herself as the messy-haired girl holding a brush with a sassy look in Are You My Friend Today?)  Then she yells “There’s Henry, holding a dog!” and “Here’s Leo making cookies!” And people of all age regress into babies in her favorite title: Ten Little Babies.

I for one just enjoy the art: such detailed, vintage imagery (and for the record, my favorite title of hers is Oh, What a Busy Day) …

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