Turk, Evan. The Storyteller. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.
Storytellers in Morocco are a dying breed. There aren’t many left. Yet, according to the author’s note at the end of the book, there has been a resurgence with young Moroccans learning from master storytellers.
Evan Turk is a world traveler and weaves what he finds on his travels into art and stories. To create his artwork in this picture book, Evan Turk used water-soluble crayons, colored drawing pencils, inks, indigo, sugared green tea, a heat gun, and fire. Most of the artwork has a somewhat impressionistic feel to it.
In The Storyteller, Evan Turk tells the story of a drought in Morocco. But before the drought, Morocco “had fountains of cool, delicious water to quench the dangerous thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring people together.” The story goes on that as the country grew, people forgot the fountains and the storytellers and a drought began to encroach on the country. In his quest for water, a boy happens upon an old man sitting by a dried-up fountain. The man is a storyteller and he tells the boy a story with a “cliff-hanger” which brings the boy back the next day to hear more. The storytelling and the return of water are magically connected and at the end of the third story, the boy had more water than he wanted. Then a djinn (or genie) comes from the Sahara to consume the country with drought. The boy stops the djinn to tell him the stories told to him by the old man. Each day more people gather to listen to the story. On the third day, enough water appears so that the drought is chased away.
Area of concern: There is a djinn or evil genie in the story which may concern some. The appearance of magic may also concern some.
The publishers put this book at a k-3rd grade level. I don’t think this picture book has what it takes to hold the interest of early elementary students. I would suggest that the picture book is more for grades 3-5.
The Storyteller is on the Land of Enchantment list for this year. I’m not sure I would purchase the book if it wasn’t on the list. I will not be adding it to my “E” section, rather placing it in my 800’s section. You may want to check it our yourself before making a decision about adding it to your collection.
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