The Storyteller by Evan Turk

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  Many years ago, in Morocco, people were sustained by the cool water of their fountains and the refreshing tales of their storytellers.  As life got easier, though, the storytellers began to die out; at the same time, the fountains started to dry up.  When a young boy goes in search of water, he finds a storyteller perched on the edge of a dried-up fountain.  After listening to the storyteller’s captivating tale, the boy finds his cup is full of water.  Each part of the story ends with a cliffhanger, and the boy returns each day until the fountain is full again.  When a djinn from the Sahara desert threatens to destroy the drought-stricken city, the boy becomes the storyteller, keeping the djinn at bay until the people of the town unite to fill all the fountains and save their city. An author’s note tells of Morocco’s storytellers, whose traditions have been being replaced by TV and the Internet, and a recent move to preserve their art. 40 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  A beautiful tale that explores the power of stories in humans’ lives.  The unique blue-and-gold themed illustrations may put this book on the Caldecott contenders’ list.

Cons:  A little difficult to classify the genre; while it has the feel of a folktale, it is not a traditional story.  The publisher calls it “an original folktale”.  .

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