Sunday, December 16, 2007

Feodor Rojankovsky

Born December 24, 1891, died October 12, 1970

Coming to the USA in 1941 not only as an émigré but as a refugee, the early life of Feodor Rojankovsky reads as if he were some character that had just wandered off the set of the movie Casablanca looking for Rick's bar.

He was born in Mitava, Russia, December 24, 1891, the son of a high school administrator. His father's position meant that the family moved extensively around the Russian empire. He had four siblings, and between them they were born in five separate cities which later became parts of five different countries (Rumania, Ukraine, Russia, Estonia and Latvia) -"So we had five different nationalities in one family."

All the children were encouraged in their pursuit of education and the development of their artistic skills. Having been born in Latvia, Rojankovsky had a particular fascination with the Baltic sea and the forests of that region. Rojankovsky made the decision to become a painter and in pursuit of that goal, entered the Moscow Fine Arts Academy in 1912. Two years later with the beginning of the First World War, he left school to become an infantry officer in the Russian Army, in which capacity he was wounded. During his service and his recuperation he produced sketches and paintings of the war; these became his first published work.

The advent of the Russian Revolution found Rojankovsky in Ukraine. It was here that he produced his first illustrations of children's books for the Ukrainian Republic. In 1919 he was drafted into the White Army, subsequently being captured and held as a prisoner of war in Poland.

With the cessation of hostilities, he was released but as a former officer in the Imperial Army and then the White Army, he was unable to return to Revolutionary Russia. He remained in Poland for a number of years before moving to Paris in the mid 1920's. In Poland he worked as a stage director in the theater as well as art director for a number of different magazine and publishing firms.

It was in Paris that he first connected in a professional way with the American publishing business when he met Esther Averill. She and a partner published his Daniel Boone: Historic Adventures of an American Hunter Among the Indians. It is easy for us to think of our current period as unprecendentedly globalized but there was a period between 1920 and 1935 when there was a similar interconnectedness when a Russian illustrator living in France could illustrate a book about an American folk hero, for an American publisher.

Rojankovsky again became a refugee with the German invasion of France in 1940, at which point he emigrated to the USA. This disruption in his life is hardly reflected in his output: he produced seven illustrated books in 1942. Over his professional career he produced more than seventy-five illustrated children's books, a half dozen of which he also wrote. While we think of him primarily as a children's illustrator, it is worth recollecting his status as a war artist. While little noted, it should also be mentioned that he established something of a reputation as an erotica artist in Paris.

With his move to America, he became somewhat typecast as an illustrator of animals for children's books. It is not clear whether this pigeonholing bothered him all that much. As he explained in his Caldecott acceptance speech, "I became an illustrator of children's books. I did it because I was an artist and loved nature and loved children."

Rojankovsky was noted in particular for his strong use of color. This trait is particularly evident in one of his books that is still in print: Over in the Meadow by John Langstaff (of Revel's fame). This book also illustrates his wonderful talent for depicting animals and nature.






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Rojankovsky died in 1970. Having been born in Russia, lived in Poland, France and finally the US and having started as a war artist, then an artist with a line in erotica he finally made his biggest impact as a children's book illustrator. Anybody growing up in the fifties and sixties in the US is likely to recognize his work from Frog Went a Courtin', The Tall Book of Mother Goose, Gaston and Josephine, The Holy Bible, or any number of Golden Book titles.

Only three of his books remain in print at this time but they are wonderful exemplars of his work.


Picture Books








Frog Went a Courtin' by John Langstaff and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky Highly Recommended








Over in the Meadow by John Langstaff and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky Highly Recommended








The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky Suggested



Bibliography

Daniel Boone: Historic Adventures of an American Hunter among the Indians by Esther Holden Averill and Lila Stanley and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1931
Powder: The Story of a Colt, a Duchess and the Circus by Esther Holden Averill and R. Hass and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1933
Les petits et les grands by Rose Celli and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1933
Flash: The Story of a Horse, a Coach-Dog and the Gypsies by Esther Holden Averill and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1934
Panache l'ecureuil by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1934
Froux, le lievre by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1935
Plouf, canard sauvage by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1935
The Voyages of Jacques Cartier by Esther Holden Averill and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1937
Bruin, the Brown Bear by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1937
Scuff, the Seal by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1937
Children's Year by Y. Lacote and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1937
Tales of Poindi by Jean Mariotti and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1938
Old Man Is Always Right by Hans Christian Andersen and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1940
Spiky, the Hedgehog by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1940
Adventures of Dudley and Gilderoy by Algernon Blackwood and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1941
The Tall Book of Mother Goose by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
How the Camel Got His Hump by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
How the Leopard Got His Spots by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
Cuckoo by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
The Kingfisher by Lida and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1942
Golden Book of Birds by Hazel Lockwood and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1944
Tall Book of Nursery Tales by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1944
Animal Stories by Georges Duplaix and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1944
Pictures from Mother Goose by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1945
The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1945
Golden Bible: From the King James Version of the Old Testament by Jane Werner Watson and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1946
The Butterfly That Stamped by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1947
The Cat That Walked by Himself by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1947
Cortez: The Conqueror by Covelle Newcomb and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1947
Gaston and Josephine by Georges Duplaix and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1948
Big Farmer Big by Kathryn Jackson and Byron Jackson and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1948
A Name for Kitty by Phyllis McGinley and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1948
Our Puppy by Jane Werner Watson (writing under pseudonym Elsa Ruth Naster) and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1948
The Three Bears by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1948
Favorite Fairy Tales by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1949
The Big Elephant by Kathryn Jackson and Byron Jackson and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1949
The Great Big Animal Book by Feodor Rojankovsky and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1950
The Great Big Wild Animal Book by Feodor Rojankovsky and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1951
Treasure Trove of the Sun by Makhail Mikhailovish Prishvin and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1952
All Alone by Claire Huchet Bishop and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1953
Giant Golden Book of Cat Stories by Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1953
Giant Golden Book of Dog Stories by Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1953
My Friend Yakub by Nicholas Kalashnikoff and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1953
Trouble at Beaver Dam by Florence Esther Tchaika and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1953
Horse Stories by Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth and Kate Barnes and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1954
I Play at the Beach by Dorothy Clarke Koch and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1955
Frog Went A-Courtin' by John Langstaff and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1955
Balboa: Swordsman and Conquistador by Felix Reisenberg and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1956
Over in the Meadow by John Langstaff and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1957
The Outside Cat by Catherine Woolley (writing under pseudonym Jane Thayer) and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1957
More Mother Goose Rhymes by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1958
Wild Animal Babies by Kathleen Daly and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1958
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1958
Catholic Child's Bible by Jane Werner Watson and Charles Hartman and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1958
Little River by Ann Rand and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1959
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1960
Holy Bible by Jane Werner Watson and Charles Hartman and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1960
Ten Little Animals by Carl Memling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1961
The Whirly Bird by Dimitry Varley and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1961
Animals in the Zoo by Feodor Rojankovsky and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1962
So Small by Ann Rand and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1962
The Dog and Cat Book by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1963
A Cricket in a Thicket by Aileen Lucia Fisher and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1963
The Cow Went over the Mountain by Jeanette Krinsley and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1963
I Can Count by Carl Memling and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1963
The Tall Book of Let's Pretend by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1964
Christmas Bear by Marie Collin Delavaud (writing under pseudonym Marie Colmont) and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1966
Animals on the Farm by Feodor Rojankovsky and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1967
A Crowd of Cows by John Graham and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1968
The Falcon Under the Hat: Russian Merry Tales and Fairy Tales by Guy Daniels and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1969
To Make Duck Happy by Carol E. Lester and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1969
F. Rojankovsky's ABC: An Alphabet of Many Things by Feodor Rojankovsky and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1970
Rojankovsky's Wonderful Picture Book: An Anthology by edited by Nina Rojankovsky and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1972
A Year in the Forest by Bill Hall and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1975
Three Best-Loved Tales: The Three Bears; The Cow Went Over the Mountain; Hop Little Kangaroo! by and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1992

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