The Storyteller

The Storyteller
by Evan Turk

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author and illustrator Information:

Meet Evan Turk:

Evan Turk at Simon and Schuster Books: (contains a video 2:40)

Evan Turk:

Evan Turk’s twitter:

Activities & Resources:



Discover the water cycle and why it’s important to all life on earth: (video 3:41)

Learn about the different types of deserts:

Learn about how we get our drinking water in homes today:

Drinking water treatment (video 7:28):

What makes a sandstorm? What are dunes?

What are dunes?

Tour the Moroccan desert:

Learn about Moroccan weaving:


Learn about the history of storytelling from around the world:

Read some other Moroccan folk tales:

Moroccan folk tales:

Moroccan folk tales:

Moroccan culture & history:

Learn about the history of yarn and weaving and fabrics:

Moroccan clothing:

Listen to some Moroccan music (0.15):

Moroccan music:

Learn about the Moroccan culture and cuisine:

Moroccan culture and cuisine:

Learn about Moroccan traditional dress: Learn about a caftan.

Learn about a caftan:

Discover Morocco’s political system, social beliefs, religion. How are these reflected in The Storyteller?

Learn about the contributions Morocco makes to the world today:

MakerSpace Activities:

Create a colored sand collage. Get white sand, food coloring, clear bottles and some mixing trays. Mix sand and food coloring. Then create designs by layering the different colors in the clear bottles. How many colors can you create?

Make your own rain gauge (3:09):

Rain gauges (0.15):

After reading The Storyteller, provide paper, colored pencils and let children create their own folklore tale and artwork.

Create your own Moroccan art. Weave a small potholder or mat.

Make your own bath salts.

Provide watercolors and let children paint their own versions of The Storyteller.

Draw and color the Moroccan flag, and then design a Moroccan flag of your own.

Discussion Questions:

Do you think storytellers are important? Why do you think so?

Why do you think people forgot their fear of the desert as life became easier? Do you think there is a reason there and does that lesson apply to us?

Why do you think as the last well dried up that the Sahara began to awaken?

Why do you think the last water seller gave the thirsty boy a brass cup? Do you think he felt the boy would find water to share?

If you were the boy, and found water, would you share with others?

One family, according to the storyteller, always had water. Why do you think the villagers began to distrust this family? How do you think you would feel in this situation?

The boy’s cup is filled with water as the old man tells his story. How does that happen? Why does the storyteller tell him to come back another day when he asks a question?

Why do you think the grandmother doesn’t finish her story, but rather answers her question with “that’s a story for another day?”

Why do you think the desert wants to reclaim the village?

Why do you think hope is important in the story?

If you could weave an entire kingdom what would you call it? How would you rule over it? Would people live there? Where would it be?

Why must one have hope for himself first?

Why do you suppose the bird fills everyone with hope?

Why did the boy have the people pour their water into the fountains? What purpose do you think it served?

Why didn’t the djinn notice the villagers pouring water into the fountains? Why was he so fascinated by the boy’s tale?

Do you think the djinn contributed to his own defeat by not paying attention to the villagers during the stories? Why or why not?

Do you think it contributes to the suspense of the story by ending every question with “that’s a story for another day?” Does the storyteller do this on purpose?

What is a djinn? Do you think all cultures have a character like this?

Do you think there is value in having stories told aloud? Why or why not? Do you enjoy listening to stories?

There’s an old Moroccan saying, “When a storyteller dies, a library burns.” What do you think about this saying? Do you think it’s true or do you think it’s just a saying?

What did you think about the story within a story format? Did you like it? Was it effective or confusing? Why or why not?

Book Talk Teasers:

Read Alikes:


Blubaugh, Penny. Serendipity Market. When the world begins to seem unbalanced, Mama Inez calls ten storytellers to the Serendipity Market and, through the power of their magical tales, the balance of the world is corrected once again. (NoveList)

Funke, Cornelia Caroline. Inkspell. Now thirteen, Meggie “reads” herself into Inkworld, where she, her family, and the characters in the book face chaos and danger as the original creator of the world frantically tries to redirect the story. (NoveList)

Gilmore, Rachna. The sower of tales. When the story pods stop growing in the Plains, a stubborn young girl undertakes a dangerous journey to seek the help of the legendary Sower of Tales, but she is plunged into a desperate struggle against a sorcerer who plans to use the story pods to destroy the world. (NoveList)

Hartman, Bob. The lion storyteller book of animal tales: animal tales old and new especially for reading aloud. Presents a collection of over thirty-five animal stories that blend familiar stories with little-known tales to inspire children to think about right and wrong. (NoveList)

Lewis, Jill. Don’t read this book!  The King is about to star in a brand new story but – wait a minute! What’s this? The story has disappeared! You’d better go and do something else instead… What? You’re still here? Well, then you’ll see the King frantically galloping through Storyland to piece together the fragments of his story, with some very unlikely interventions (and help). (NoveList)

Mitton, Tony. The storyteller’s secrets. When twins Toby and Tess meet a mysterious old traveller, they are fascinated by his magical tales of far-off places, strange enchantments, and miracles. (NoveList)

Starmer, Aaron. The storyteller. Along with stories, Keri Cleary records in her diary the strange and terrifying events surrounding the disappearance of Fiona Loomis and Alistair Cleary’s efforts to find her in Aquavania, a world where wishes can nearly come true, as well as the repercussions of the shooting of Kyle Dwyer. (NoveList)

Ullman, Barb Bentler. The fairies of Nutfolk Wood.  After her parents divorce and she moves to the country with her mother, fourth-grader Willa Jane, anxious and unhappy with the changes in her life, discovers a world of little people called Nutfolk living in the woods around her new home. (NoveList)

Williams, Sheron. Imani’s music.  Imani, an African grasshopper, brings music to the new world when he travels aboard a slave ship. (NoveList)

Fairy tales:

Daly, Niki. Pretty Salma: a Little Red Riding Hood story from Africa. In this version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” set in Ghana, a young girl fails to heed Granny’s warning about the dangers of talking to strangers. (NoveList)

House, Catherine . A stork in a baobab tree: an African twelve days of Christmas.  Set in Africa during the Christmas season, a village prepares for celebrating the birth of a child, told in verse inspired by the traditional carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” (NoveList)


Benson, Sandra. Tales of the golden corpse: Tibetan folk tales. Presents twenty-five stories of traditional Tibetan folklore, using the tale of young boy who, in penance for killing seven sorcerers, must carry around a talking corpse who is the narrator of the stories. (NoveList)

Charles, Veronika Martenova. Don’t go into the forest!.  Three young boys on a trip to a cottage tell each other spooky versions of fairy tales about children who ventured into the forest despite warnings from their parents, and confronted Little People and the Pot Woman. Series: Easy-to-read spooky tales (NoveList)

Dokey, Cameron. The storyteller’s daughter. When Shahrazad becomes enslaved, she must remain cool and calm to come up with a clever plan that will make the cold hearted king see her in a different light in order to change her future. (NoveList)

Gonzalez, Lucia M. The storyteller’s candle: =La velita de los cuentos. During the early days of the Great Depression, New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpre, introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood’s first Three Kings’ Day fiesta. (NoveList)

Hughes, Vi. Aziz, the storyteller. Although he wants to please his father and earn money selling carpets, Aziz finds himself drawn to the storytellers in the marketplace, including one who has a special gift meant just for him. (NoveList)

Johnston, Tony. My abuelita. With great gusto, a child’s grandmother performs deep knee bends, consumes a breakfast of “huevos estrellados,” and practices vocal exercises before going to work as a storyteller. (NoveList)

Knight, Richard John. Winter shadow. In an isolated mountain village, nine-year-old Maria and her grandfather rescue and raise a wolf cub, Shadow, and when Shadow eventually leaves to join his own kind, a stranger’s words help Maria to accept that this is for the best. (NoveList)

Michaelis, Antonia. The Storyteller. Wealthy, seventeen-year-old Anna begins to fall in love with her classmate, Abel, a drug dealer from the wrong side of town, when she hears him tell a story to his six-year-old sister, but when his enemies begin turning up dead, Anna fears she has fallen for a murderer. (NoveList)

Michaelis, Antonia. Tiger moon. Sold to be the eighth wife of a rich and cruel merchant, Safia, also called Raka, tries to escape her fate by telling stories of Farhad the thief, his companion Nitish the white tiger, and their travels across India to retrieve a famous jewel that will save a kidnapped princess from becoming the bride of a demon king. (NoveList)

Sherrard, Valerie. Driftwood. After his best friend bails on him, Adam is convinced his summer vacation is ruined. But after meeting Theo, a blind man from up the hill, everything changes. Theo’s magical stories help Adam see the true nature of friendship and the importance of forgiveness. (NoveList)

Stoffels, Karlijn. Heartsinger. In this meditation on various kinds of love, Mee travels across the country to the court of the Princess Esperanza, singing the life stories of some of the people he meets. (NoveList)

Thomas, Shelley Moore. The seven tales of Trinket. “Guided by a tattered map, accompanied by Thomas the Pig Boy, and inspired by the storyteller’s blood that thrums through her veins, eleven-year-old Trinket searches for the seven stories she needs to become a bard like her father, who disappeared years before”–. (NoveList)

Historical fiction:

Coates, Jan. A hare in the elephant’s trunk. Inspired by the real life experiences of a Sudanese boy, follows Jacob Akech Deng’s journey as he flees his home under the threat of war, and, guided by the memory of his mother, tries to survive in a refugee camp. (NoveList)


Coats, Lucy. The beasts in the jar. Retells the ancient Greek myths of the Titans, the rise of Zeus, Daedalus and Icarus, Prometheus, Pandora, and Deucalion and Pyrrha in the voice of a wandering ancient storyteller. (NoveList)


Bruchac, Margaret M. Malian’s song. Presents the Abenaki perspective on the English attack of October 4, 1759 in which the Abenaki village was burned down by the raid carried out by Robert Rogers. (NoveList)

Hurwitz, Johanna. Astrid Lindgren: storyteller to the world. Chronicles the life of the Swedish storyteller, discussing her unplanned development as an author and the creation of her beloved carrot-topped heroine, Pippi Longstocking. (NoveList)

Schmidt, Gary D. Mara’s stories: glimmers in the darkness. Each evening, in one of the barracks of a Nazi death camp, a woman shares stories that push back the darkness, cold, and fear, bringing hope to the women and children who listen. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction:

Hanlon, Abby. Ralph tells a story. Although his teacher insists there are stories everywhere, Ralph cannot think of any to write. (NoveList)

Book Reviews:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 07/01/16

Turk, Evan The Storyteller; written and illus. by Evan Turk. Atheneum, 2016 44p.  Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-3518-5 $18.99.   E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-3519-2 $10.99 R  7-10 yrs

At a dried-up fountain in a thirsty Moroccan city, a boy encounters an old man who offers him a story. As the boy listens, returning each day for the next promised installment (each segment ends “Ah, well, that is a story for another day”), water appears in the cup he carries. Pouring the contents into the fountain produces even more water—and not a moment too soon, as a massive sandstorm kicked up by a djinn bent on the city’s destruction is headed their way. Luckily, the djinn is a sucker for a good yarn, and the boy just happens to know one, buying time enough for water to replenish the whole town and send the sand spirit packing. A veritable nesting doll of a narrative (that ends with a storyteller, who much resembles the boy, telling a little girl, “Ah, well, that is a story for another day”) complete with an informative author’s note, this story about the power of story is a call for reconnection with tradition, oral and otherwise. Turk’s illustrations transport the reader to a Morocco of the past and present, capturing the timelessness of the country juxtaposed against the cautionary message about disappearing customs. Turk has quite the toolkit for his art, using “water-soluble crayon, colored drawing pencils, inks, indigo, sugared green tea, a heat gun, and fire,” resulting in a desert-tinged color palette accented by the bold colors and distinct silhouettes of the Arabian world. While the text lends itself well to a readaloud—and, given the story’s moral, is probably its intent—the evocative, impressionistic renderings deserve one-on-one time with viewers for full use and appreciation. AA.  (July 2016)  Used with the permission of Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books.

Horn Book

Turk, Evan The Storyteller.  48 pp. Atheneum (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) 2016. ISBN 978-1-4814-3518-5 Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-3519-2

(3) K–3 Captivating mixed-media art frames Turk’s multilayered original folktale, in which a storyteller in the Kingdom of Morocco recounts how a young boy saves his drought-inflicted village. Abstract images evoke a bustling village square, building outlines made hazy by sandstorms, vibrant fabrics that contrast with the tan desert, and maze-like carpet patterns. Visually and textually, there’s much to savor in this gorgeous book.   From the Fall 2016 issue of The Horn Book Guide.    Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

[Starred] School Library Journal

Turk, Evan. The Storyteller. illus. by Evan Turk. 48p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. Jul. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481435185.

Gr 1-4 –Folktales involving water abound in all cultures, but this tale is unusual in using water as a metaphor for story: just as we need water to nourish our physical selves, we need stories to feed our spirits. In Turk’s fable, a lone storyteller remains in a Moroccan city where the water sources have all dried up. When a young boy seeks water, the water-seller has only a bowl to give him, but the storyteller tells him a tale that miraculously fills the bowl. In a series of nested stories, the boy’s thirst is quenched, and by retelling the stories Scheherazade-style to a sandstorm in the form of a djinn, he is able to save the city and also replenish its water supply. In predominant hues of brown and blue, Turk’s bold, semiabstract mixed-media illustrations conjure up swirls of sand and waves of water, evoking the environment and its people. The spreads contain concentric borders representing each of the stories as it is told. Using age-old literary elements and a loose, contemporary art style filled with symbolism, Turk successfully melds two equally important concerns of our time—the need to keep storytelling alive and the need to protect and conserve our drinking water. VERDICT This lush and lovely title is highly recommended for its aesthetic qualities as well as its multiple curricular tie-ins, including geography, environmental studies, language arts, and art education.–Susan Stan, Professor Emerita of English, Central Michigan University.   Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal,  Copyright 2016.