Monday, June 12, 2017

Sonia Roetter ~ illustrator for Peter Pauper Press

Hi, everyone! I had bought this book a while ago on eBay. I had bought it primarily because one of the authors of the fairy tales was Lafcadio Hearn. Added bonus it was fairy tales and Japanese fairy tales at that.

When I received the book, I fell in love with the illustrations. I even brought the book to work with me so I could share it with a coworker. The illustrations reminded me of origami and I knew my coworker would like that as well since he is always folding an origami creation in his spare time.

Initially when I tried to find out about the illustrator, Sonia Roetter, I hit a dead end. The most I could find out was that she had worked on several books for Peter Pauper Press, the company who published the book I had bought. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had an entry for her Chinese Fairy Tales book in their catalog, but all they had under her name was 'American, 20th century'.

You know me, history nerd, lover of research, I had to find something out on her. One of the greatest resources you can use in my opinion is Ancestry. I know that sounds odd when you aren't working on genealogy, but trust me, it is a lifesaver when you are in the academic world, even when you are in the offshoots of that world like I am.

So off I went to see what I could find and here's what I found:

Sonia was born in Winnica, Russia (now Ukraine) on October 12, 1904. She and her family moved to the United States; they arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on December 20, 1913. 

At some point she had married a photographer named Frederick Roetter and lived in Chicago. She became an American citizen on December 29, 1941. She died at the age of 87 on September 15, 1992.

She was an illustrator who worked for Peter Pauper Press, a company founded in 1928 and which still exists today. She even entered exhibitions, such as the Chicago Artists Exhibition in 1957 and 1958. I would love to know what her actual style of art was. Did she use the same style she used for her illustrations? The same medium, silkscreen? Or was she a painter?

From what I could find, she had illustrated the following books for Peter Pauper Press:
1) Hickory, Dickory, Dock: And Other Poems of Childhood, 1950.
2) Mother Goose Book, 1946.
3) Japanese Fairy Tales, 1948.
4) Chinese Fairy Tales, 1946.

I hope some day to at least find a decent copy of the Chinese Fairy Tales book. From the images I have seen online of it, she illustrated the book in a similar style to that of the Japanese Fairy Tales book.

The Japanese Fairy Tales book contains 78 pages featuring twelve stories that are illustrated with silkscreen images using a repeated color scheme of pink, blue, and white. On each page of text, the midsection is illustrated with a long motif, such as a monkey, fish, willow branches, or a woman in a kimono.

On my searches, I noticed that Peter Pauper Press also published other fairy tale books using different illustrators....I think there was a Russian and even a Turkish fairy tale book.

I wonder if I could contact the company and see if they had records on the various fairy tale books that they published in the 1940s? bookworm brain never shuts down!! LOL

I hope you enjoyed learning about a forgotten artist. Who says you can't learn new things?

Until next time ^____^


  1. How interesting! The illustrations are beautiful.

  2. A very interesting post indeed. When you love books it's always worth rediscovering forgotten authors and illustrators.