Monday, May 4, 2009

More Gyo Fujikawa

I travelled back home to Florida for a friend's wedding last week. While there, I took the opportunity to look through the Jamieson Memorial Library, and found our old copies of Oh, What a Busy Day! and Come Follow Me. They were even more beautiful than I remembered:

Look, my brother and I shared! What good siblings.

I remember playing "sandwich" quite a bit as a kid- perhaps inspired by this book? We'd lie between two pillows, and tickle the other person whenever a new ingredient was added to the sandwich. Condiments required blowing on the stomach, raspberry-style. Oh, and I think we even "pressed" the sandwich, panini-style, by sitting on the person.

I loved this illustration...

... and this one.

And I think this one is just stunning. My crummy scan does not do it justice (O, how I miss you, high-quality flatbed scanner from my previous job!)

I can't find too much information about Gyo Fujikawa, which I find surprising, as it seems like she was groundbreaking in many ways. According to her Wikipedia profile, "Fujikawa is recognized for being the earliest mainstream illustrator of picture books to include children of many races in her work, before it was politically correct to do so."  A New York times article says that her family was interned in an Arkansas relocation camp during World War II. She sounds absolutely fascinating, and hopefully I'll be able to find more information about her. She had this quote in the Wikipedia article:

"In illustrating for children, what I relish most is trying to satisfy the constant question in the back of my mind--will this picture capture a child's imagination? What can I do to enhance it further? Does it help to tell a story? I am far from being successful (whatever that means), but I am ever so grateful to small readers who find 'something' in any book of mine."

What a beautiful quote- and what a nice thing for me to keep in mind as an illustrator, when it's easy to get sidetracked by thoughts like "hooks", "marketability", or "the next big thing". I certainly found more than "something" in her books, and I'm grateful that she created them.


Kristi Valiant said...

I was in Barnes and Noble over the weekend, and the children's book employee was talking to me about illustration. She said there's a beautifully illustrated book that she just had to show me - and it was by Gyo Fujikawa! Very gorgeous.

Nina Crittenden said...

My sister and I had some Gyo Fujikawa books when we were kids, I still have one about nursery rhymes. The pictures have such a sweet, soft quality- so darling! I like that you and your brother smashed each other panini-style... it is great to have a sib!

Vicki said...

I hope there is a Gyo Fujikawa renaissance- I think everyone had her books as a kid!

It is great to have a sib- 2 in my case! Come to think of it, we did a lot of sitting on each other. Another great joke was to "hide" beneath a sofa cushion, and the other person would sit on top of the cushion & exclaim, "MY! This sofa is lumpy!"

Anonymous said...

These are adorable! I gotta find a Fujikawa book of my own soon!

Anonymous said...


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