Share this Post
“I made up stories…that reminded me of the stories I loved reading, hearing, and watching.”
Evan Turk, author-illustrator of THE STORYTELLER, talks about the picture books he made as a child and how they each inspired him to become the picture book author and illustrator he is now.
When I was in elementary school, I loved writing and illustrating picture books. Not much has changed! Most of my stories as a kid centered around whatever obscure animal I was currently interested in.
I had a book about a spoonbill—called Spoonbill, of course—which featured a poison dart frog (he became friends with a dragon, an ostrich, and a leopard, I think?), a book about all the animals of the world (some of which I made up), and a book about how to raise your pet chameleon (I never actually had a pet chameleon, but I gave the book great reviews…).
One of my favorite books I made was called Speedy’s Tale and it was about a baby sloth named Speedy (based on a stuffed animal I had) whose parents sent him on a train from Costa Rica off to get a job in the Florida Everglades when he turned 3 years old. It was very dramatic and even included the untimely death of one of the main characters.
I liked making stories that were like the Disney movies I watched over and over again as a kid (especially The Lion King), so there was no shortage of drama. I would also take pieces or characters out of other picture books I loved and put them right in the book! (This is actually illegal if you’re going to publish a book, but it was a good way to learn what I liked.)
Mostly I made up stories about whatever it was that I was interested in, and told stories with words and pictures in a way that reminded me of the stories I loved reading, hearing, and watching. And now I get to do exactly that for my job!
Check out our ALL THE WONDERS of The Storyteller post for more on this beautiful tale, including an exploration of how author-illustrator Evan Turk began his storytelling journey, a survey of programs around the world working to preserve the traditions of storytelling, and a craft that will help you tell your own stories for years to come.
about the author
Evan Turk is an illustrator, animator, and designer working in New York City. He specializes in travel illustration, on-location event reportage, cultural children’s books, and concept illustration for video games, animation, and advertising. Visit his website here.