So Small Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky

Two words to describe So Small are small and charming. Small, because the book itself is small (perfect for little hands), and charming because of the great illustrations by Feodor Rojankovsky. It could also be described as small but mighty, as the pages are fully illustrated and loaded with detail. Add to this Rojankovsky's distinct style and his unique use of color and you've got a great book, no matter what the size.

The story, by Ann Rand, is about a tiny mouse called Little Bit. Much smaller than his five siblings, Little Bit decides that it's better to be brave than behave, and doesn't heed his parent's warnings about dangers in the world. He puts himself into peril and learns the hard way.

So Small by Ann Rand
Pictures by Feodor Rojankovsky
Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., New York, 1962

Feodor Rojankovsky was born in Mitava, Russia on December 24, 1891. Feodor and his four siblings were encouraged in their education and development of artistic skills. Feodor was fascinated by the Baltic Sea and the forests of the area. He decided to become a painter and entered the Moscow Fine Arts Academy in 1912. Two years later he left to joint the infantry in the Russian Army. Wounded during his service, he used that time to make sketches and paintings of the war. These became his first published work. In 1919 he was drafted into the White Army, was later captured and held as a prisoner of war in Poland. He was released after the war, but because he was a former officer in the Imperial Army and the White Army, he was not permitted to return to Russia. He stayed in Poland for a number of years, working as a stage director for the theater and an art director for a fashion magazine and a book publishing company. In the mid 1920's he moved to Paris and worked for an advertising agency, film studios and publishing firms. There he met Esther Averill who published his book, Daniel Boone: Historic Adventures of an American Hunter Among the Indiansir.gif. This was a unique situation at that time in history - that a Russian Illustrator, living in France, could illustrate a book, about an American folk hero, for an American Publisher. 

With the German invasion of France in 1940, Rojankovsky became a refugee again and he emigrated to the United States. Now middle aged, he hardly missed a beat - illustrating seven published books in 1942. Over the course of his career Feodor Rojankovsky illustrated over 75 children's books. writing six of them himself. While best known as a children's illustrator, he was also a war artist and erotica artist (during his time in Paris). This did not bother Rojankovsky, as he stated that he loved nature and children. He was awarded a Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in Frog Went A-Courtin' ir.gif(1956). Some of Rojankovsky's books include The Great Big Animal Bookir.gif (1952), The Tall Book of Mother Gooseir.gif, Gaston and Josephineir.gif, Over in the Meadowir.gif, The Holy Bibleir.gif and the many Golden Books he illustrated. A very gifted illustrator, Feodor Rojankovsky died on October 12, 1970.


  1. Jil, Thanks for checking out We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. I know illustration is your main interest, so I wanted to point out that I often post on illustrators, such as Ursula Koering, E. Simms Campbell, Richard Erdoes, Ilonka Karasz, and soon Cliff Roberts. Any of those posts can be accessed from the author/artist sidebar on the right hand side of the page. Sign on as a follower so you don't miss all of that great art.

    Thanks again for your interest,


  2. Thank you so much for posting this Ariel. It was hard to find before since google assumed that my search for "Ann Rand" was because I was not clever enough to spell "Ayn Rand", but I'd rather read this than Atlas Shrugged any day!

    I still have a bust-up copy of this book back at home. It was my favourite as a small child, and I can still remember quotes from it. My mother used to read the owl's voice in a way that made me tremble: "Come up here," said the owl "and I'll give you something to make you wise."

    I also was lucky enough lived very close to a pine forest that was in many ways a living version of Rojankovsky's illustrations. There were several stumps of trees there that "humped up like the head of a ram" just like in the book. I always feel that was some of the appeal of it for me over other books, that it was so close to what I saw in real life.

  3. Hi - my name is Jil, I did the posting, Ariel is someone who left a comment.
    Thank you for your comments, so glad I posted a book that you have fond memories of. How fortunate you were to live somewhere that resembled Rojankovsky's illustrations!

  4. Sorry. I should have read more carefully. Thanks Jil!