Activities for Educators, Librarians & Readers

Best Users: Educators, Librarians, Community Groups, Families

Best Audience: Children Grades 02-05


The tales in award-winning picture book The Storyteller by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) pay tribute to the legendary stories told in the public squares of Morocco, and the artwork honors the colors and symbolism of the country’s traditional carpets. The following activities play with the themes and images of the book and offer readers deeper exploration.

unknownAL-GARRAB: Quench Your Thirst: An Origami Activity
Readers are invited to write and draw in the “pool of blue”on this activity sheet as the book is read to them. When they
fold the paper according to the origami instructions, readers will hold a cup filled with water, words, and images. This reinforces the book’s theme that you can quench your thirst with story!

storyteller10HAJITEK MAJITEK: Moroccan Storyteller Profiles & Discussion Questions
This activity includes an essay about a famous Moroccan storyteller and a letter to your readers from an up-and-coming young storyteller. Discussion questions and suggested activities ask readers about the role of storytelling in their lives and how technology may have changed our listening and storytelling.

storyteller04HLAYKIA: Elders as Storytellers: An Interview Activity
In Morocco, storytelling is an art form that has passed from generation to generation for over 1000 years. Do our elders have stories to tell us? Using themes from the book, this activity encourages readers to interview elders. An introduction letter and final poster template are included.

storyteller03HDITH O MAGHZEL: A Weaving Activity
In traditional Moroccan culture, women weavers told their stories in the patterns of their carpets. Use the creation of cardboard looms to explore color choice, color theory, Moroccan carpets, and the colors and patterns of this book with readers.

weaver01ROSSOMAT: Visual Literacy
Like the creator of a Moroccan carpet, Evan Turk has woven meaning into the colors, patterns, and placement of the images in The Storyteller. Explore the book’s many visual literacy opportunities with art discussion questions.



The Storyteller: Activity Kit
(Link for Email Subscribers)


For even more educational opportunities and connections, visit the “Inspiration & Resources” section of

For assistance with the pronunciation and meaning of the Moroccan Arabic words in the picture book and the companion teaching materials, listen to this audio guide by former Moroccan educator Abdelaziz Rhazzali:



9781481435185The Storyteller
By Evan Turk
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 9781481435185
Age Range: 6 Years – Adult

From Ezra Jack Keats 2015 New Illustrator Honor recipient Evan Turk comes his debut work as author-illustrator: an original folktale that celebrates the power of stories and storytelling.

Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together.

But as the kingdom grew, the people forgot the dangers of the desert, and they forgot about the storytellers, too. All but one young boy, who came to the Great Square for a drink and found something that quenched his thirst even better: wonderful stories. As he listened to the last storyteller recount the Endless Drought, and the Glorious Blue Water Bird, he discovered the power of a tale well told.

Acclaimed illustrator Evan Turk has created a stunning multidimensional story within a story that will captivate the imagination and inspire a new generation of young storytellers.



Aesop Accolade
CSMCL Best Books of 2016
Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best
Junior Library Guild Selection
NPR Best Books of 2016!
Texas Bluebonnet Master List
Wall Street Journal’s Best Children’s Books of 2016


star“Rich illustrations rendered in watercolor, ink, and pencil engulf the pages with desert golds and deep indigo, blending folk-art and contemporary styles. Double-page spreads dramatically illustrate kingdom’s forgetfulness and subsequent incursion of swirling sands, as well as the sapphirine return of water through life-giving words. Turk’s layered ode to storytelling’s magic begs to be shared aloud with a group, though the detailed art merits close inspection.”
Booklist, Starred Review
star“…Beautiful swirls of blue dominate many of the intricately bordered double-page spreads, fighting against the tans and browns of the djinn and the sands he represents. Each spread takes on a life of its own, sometimes highly geometric, other times full of swiftly crayon-drawn individuals, and still others with heavily inked and outlined figures. Original storytelling with the feel of the best folklore, enhanced by illustrations done in a style not seen anyplace else.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
star“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….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.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
star“…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….Using age-old literary elements and a loose, contemporary art style filled with symbolism…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
“The story of The Storyteller will make readers tellers of tales. Thus, the request for stories to quench our thirst will never dry up. Evan Turk’s illustrations are a visual play of story in itself as well.”
—Ashley Bryan, multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner
“It seems odd to say, but this book, wrapped as it is in classic motifs and themes dating back hundreds, even thousands, of years, is one of the freshest, most timely picture books I’ve had the honor to read in a long time. Visually stunning with a storyline to match, Turk is beginning to make good on his talents. This is a man with storytelling in his blood and bones. Our children reap the rewards. A can’t miss book.”
—Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal


  1. Have I said I’m your biggest fan? 🙂 This is fantastic. I love this book. I have been mulling over ways to build a program around it for a couple of months now, and this will complete my plans! I can’t wait!

    • YOU make me EVER so happy, Jennifer! I am a fangirl of YOU! Love to hear how THE STORYTELLER event goes. Please share!


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