We need stories to feed our spirits

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Reviews | 0 comments


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.

School Library Journal, Starred Review star

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‘The Turn of the Page’ at the Brooklyn Public Library

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Events | 0 comments


I am honored that original artwork from ‘The Storyteller’ will be a part of the new exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library ‘The Turn of the Page‘ curated by author/illustrator Pat Cummings. I had the pleasure of taking Pat’s children’s book class while I was at Parsons, and she wanted to include the work of her former students who continued on in children’s books because teaching is such a big part of her life. I’m very proud to be a part of this show by one of my favorite teachers at Parsons, and hope you will be able to come check out her work, my work, and the work of several of her other former students! Should be an amazing show. There is an opening reception this Monday, May 9, a the Central Library from 6-8pm. Hope to see you there!

The Turn of the Page

I’m also going to be doing a joint workshop with Pat in conjunction with the show on June 18 about storytelling from around the world! So come, and bring your kids!

Turn of the Page: Storytelling Collage, with Evan Turk & Pat Cummings

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The weaver as Storyteller

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Diversity and Representation, Morocco, Symbolism, The Art of 'The Storyteller' | 0 comments

In October 2014 I took a trip to Morocco to do research for The Storyteller. One of my favorite experiences was spending a day in the village of Anzal in southern Morocco and meeting the women carpet weavers there and their family. These drawings (aside from the illustrations from the book at the end) were done on-location in Anzal and the nearby Oasis de Fint.



I arrived at the village of Anzal and met, Naoual, a twenty two year old woman from the village who translated for me and told me about her village and the weaving association. The village is nestled in a valley between harsh, dry mountains. The landscape is both empty and calming. The ground and sky seem to extend in all directions for eternity. It is said that the top crossbar of a loom is often called “the beam of heaven” and the bottom bar, “the earth”, with everything between as “creation.”

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Stories, like water, are life sustaining

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in Reviews | 0 comments


Swaths of indigo swirl across detailed folk art illustrations in this intricate allegorical tale about the power of storytelling.

A layered narrative featuring stories nestled within stories begins with a boy in a drought-stricken Moroccan village, where water and storytellers are scarce. Looking to quench his thirst, the boy encounters an ancient raconteur: “The man’s face cracked like dry mud to reveal a toothless grin. ‘Sit down, my boy, and your thirst shall be quenched.’ ” Various tales and their tellers are woven into the story the old man spins, with color-coordinated typefaces and borders helping readers track the different narrators. As the boy listens, his cup fills repeatedly with water, which figures prominently in the story’s climax. Turk (Grandfather Gandhi) combines primitive sketches and simple patterns to create sophisticated multimedia spreads.

Fountains of blue pour from the mouths of storytellers, cementing the message that stories, like water, are life sustaining. The revelation of the final narrator brings this multifaceted tale to satisfying closure. An author’s note details the inspiration for his modern-day allegory: a real-life resurgence of the storytelling craft in one Moroccan cafe. Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review star

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The Art of ‘The Storyteller’: Behind the Scenes, Part 1

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in Morocco, Symbolism, The Art of 'The Storyteller' | 0 comments

The process for creating ‘The Storyteller’ began in August of 2012 while at an illustration/drawing workshop with Dalvero Academy, an independent school of continuing studies in art and illustration that I have been a part of for many years. As part of a semi-annual trip with the school to DisneyWorld, one of our rigorous days was in EPCOT where I focused on the Morocco pavillion. The pavilions at EPCOT are more than just culturally inspired attractions, they are created by the governments of the countries represented as a synthesis of culture and craft to display their country to the world. Because of that, they are great places to begin learning about a culture.


Visual notes from EPCOT Morocco

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The Art of ‘The Storyteller’: Indigo, Tea, and Fire

Posted by on Apr 2, 2016 in The Art of 'The Storyteller' | 0 comments

The artwork in ‘The Storyteller’ was created using a long list of materials including water-soluble crayons, colored drawing pencils, and inks. But my favorite technique in the book involves indigo, tea, and fire! Learn more about this technique (which should not be attempted without adult supervision!) in this video:

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