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Babies by Gyo Fujikawa Children's Book Summary and Review

Updated on February 1, 2023
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Carolyn writes about children's literature for library, preschool, and homeschool settings. She has a BA in English literature.

Babies by Gyo Fujikawa book cover.
Babies by Gyo Fujikawa book cover.

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Gyo Fujikawa (1908-1998) was a children's book author and illustrator who was probably most well-known for her fanciful drawings depicting children from every possible background. During her years as a children's illustrator, she revolutionized the publishing industry's depictions of children, and helped publishers to move forward in depicting a world where everyone has a place in the pages of a children's book.

Babies by Gyo Fujikawa is a simple, yet elegant early board book that should grace every young child's shelf. And is also one of Gyo's most joyfully inclusive titles. This book shows the joy and wonder of life with a baby.

Without pretense, author and illustrator Gyo Fujikawa shows babies of every kind being held, snuggled, toddling, and playing. This book makes a wonderful introduction to the topic of a new sibling, and masterfully captures the simple yet wondrous miracle of babyhood.

It is clear that Fujikawa knows her subject! She depicts babies at different ages and stages: in the tender stage when they are so easy to hold that they look like a baby doll, through their infancy of sleeping and crying and sleeping some more, to their curious and endlessly active toddler years.

Babies offers a delightful introduction to a potential older sibling without exploring the medical questions of how the baby came into being or why mommy's tummy is so big. Those are matters for another book. Because Babies merely explores what babies are like at a very simple level, this book will be suitable for very young toddlers. Most children under the age of 5 aren't ready to ask how the baby was made. They just want to know what the baby will be like, and how life for them will change with a baby around the house. Gyo Fujikawa beautifully introduces the wonder that a baby can bring into any loving home.

Fujikawa's illustrations are fanciful depictions of babies of every culture and ethnicity laughing and playing together in harmony. Her illustrations are beautiful and in the manner of illustrations produced in the 1960s, use muted colors that draw heavily from earth tones. Rather than depicting life with realism, she uses humor and natural images such as plants and animals to show babies in a sort of joyous heaven on earth, Fujikawa's illustrations are busy, active, and full of movement.

Babies, they're always lying around.
Babies, they're always lying around.

Artist and Author Gyo Fujikawa

Gyo Fujikawa was born in 1908 and passed away in 1998. Her work is highly prized and has sold at auction for as much as $75,000. She published over 50 books during her lifetime and illustrated others. Her books Babies and Baby Animals are her most popular and continue to be reprinted in many languages.

Fujikawa was euologized in the New York Times for her significant social and artistic accomplishments when she passed away in 1998.

A Classic Children's Book

Since it was published over 40 years ago, Babies is one of those children's books that has grown up with multiple generations. Many of my friends and acquaintances have remarked to me that this particular storybook had a meaningful influence on their lives.

One friend, a child psychologist who happened to see it in my bookbag in the car, squealed with delight when she saw that I had it. "I LOVE that book!" she said with great feeling. With its classic and unchanging message that babies are a wonderful, this easy to love toddler book will continue to have a place on many family bookshelves for years to come.

Oh, What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa
Oh, What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa

Other Books by Gyo Fujikawa

  • Ten Little Babies: Recently published, this rhyming book counts backward from 10 to 1, and features the cherubic round babies that also appear in the Babies board book.
  • A Children's Book of Poems: This book is a collection of poems by famous poets and classic authors, and was illustrated by Fujikawa. I like this book because if features poems I read in my college English Literature courses, like poems by Christina Rosetti.
  • Baby Animals is an early toddler board book that features baby animals depicted in a friendly, if not too realistic style.
  • Oh What a Busy Day is my favorite Gyo Fujikawa book. It is geared toward preschool and early elementary age children, and has the busy quality of many of Richard Scarry's books, but retains Fujikawa's signature illustration style. This book could be considered a precursor to the Where's Waldo book series, and offers lot's of lap-sitting search and find fun.

© 2009 Carolyn Augustine


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