Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daniel Boone, by Esther Averill (ill. Ferdor Rojankovsk) (1931)

After a year full of stories of adventures on the frontier, from Paul Bunyan to Johnny Appleseed and a hundred Indian stories and voyageur tales, this book about the legend of Daniel Boone has been one of our favorites of 2012. The detailed text was written by Esther Averill, a children's author and illustrator who studied photography and printing in Paris and started a press to publish children's books "illustrated by gifted young artists and reproduced by means of the excellent color processes that were available." Daniel Boone book was the first she published, in 1931. It would later be published more widely by Harper & Brothers.

Daniel Boone was illustrated by the Russian artist Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsk, who would later win the Caldecott medal for his illustrated version of Froggie Went A-Courtin. Rojankovsk met Averill in Paris and although he was known for his erotic paintings, she tapped him to illustrate her first book with her new press. Rojankovsk would illustrate more than a hundred children's books after he emigrated to the United States during World War II. 

The vibrant color of these illustrations is really extraordinary.

I just love the idea of a Soviet-era Russian erotic artist illustrating a book about such an American icon.

 This is my favorite picture in the book: