Today it is my great pleasure to welcome author illustrator Evan Turk to the blog to share a first look at his newest work, YOU ARE HOME.
Here's a quick summary of the story:
Award-winning author and illustrator Evan Turk showcases the beauty and importance of the National Parks in this gorgeous picture book that takes readers on an amazing tour across the United States.
Beneath the soaring doorways of stone,
and peaks that pierce the ceiling of clouds,
from every river, star, and stone
comes the eternal refrain:
you are home.
In simple, soaring language and breathtaking art, acclaimed author-illustrator Evan Turk has created a stirring ode to nature and nation. From the rugged coast of Maine to the fiery volcanoes of Hawaii, You Are Home reminds us that every animal, plant, and person helps make this land a brilliant, beautiful sanctuary of life.
I invited Evan to finish my sentences. After reading his responses, scroll down for a look at the cover and more, including links to previous conversations Evan and I have shared on The Children's Book Podcast throughout his career so far in children's literature..
EVAN FINISHES MY SENTENCES:
The idea for YOU ARE HOME... came from growing up with the National Parks as a big part of my childhood. My dad has worked for the Park Service for over 40 years, so a lot of my childhood vacations were spent going to different parks around the country. I wanted to make this book to try to capture the feeling of being in a National Park to hopefully inspire more families to make them a part of their homes.
In the story... I wanted to show the National Parks, and nature, as a place you can always turn to for comfort. No matter what things you might be dealing with in your life, with your family or friends, or in your life at home, you always have a home in nature. You are a part of nature, in the same way that the animals, plants, and rocks are a part of it.
The illustrations for the story... were inspired by my own visits to the parks, and about half of them (including the cover!) were drawn on-location in the National Parks! I wanted them all to have the feeling of wonder and discovery that I feel every time I am in a park, so I based the illustrations around those moments. I visited 20 different parks for this book, brought my pastels, and drew in each one. Every animal in the book was based on an animal that I actually saw in real life (although I did add a few more baby animals, because they are just too cute). The illustration for the cover, for instance, was a view that I came upon that took my breath away. It was an April morning in Sequoia National Park in California, and the hillsides were blooming with bright orange poppies, purple redbud trees, and a winding turquoise river carving through the mountainsides. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and that made it a perfect choice for the cover.
One thing I hope readers will take from this story is... that even if you’ve never been to a National Park before, there is space for you there. I think, for me, the Parks were always something that made me feel connected to the rest of the country. As a gay kid growing up, I didn’t always feel that “liberty and justice for all” and the idea of the United States necessarily included me, but in the National Parks, I always felt like I belonged. While working on this book, I thought about how even that was a privilege, and how there are a lot about other kids who might still feel like even the Parks are not for them. But I hope that they take away the idea that “Yes, I belong here too."
National Parks... need our help. They are special places that have endured through thousands of years, but they are at risk today because of climate change, environmental destruction, politics, and greed. They are under threat now more than ever, and if we fail to protect them, there’s no getting them back.
And just like that we have a COVER!
Okay. Let's take a closer look at this cover.
Actually, we need to gave intently into this one. There's a lot to see in this vista.
What's the first thing you notice? Is it the wildflowers in bloom. Have you breathed in deeply? Can you smell them? You've no doubt picked up other scents as well. The water churning its way through the rocks below. The leaves as the sun kisses them golden and the breeze softly sways them. The openness, wide enough to welcome the mountains.
Evan's cover asks us to be here. To be in this moment. And to call this moment "home".
You may not have ever known home to be like this. You may not have ever visited a National Park, or hiked the land others have hiked for hundreds of years before you, or even allowed yourself the gift of saying that this land is home. But in calling it home we accept a certain responsibility toward it. The responsibility to respect and to protect and to observe and to preserve.
Here's where I have to confess something to you. I've read the book. Evan shared it with me as I was making this post. And honestly, there is nothing more I'd like to do right now than to read it to you. You're going to want to read this book aloud. You're going to want to step into these spreads. To see this pictures of home. To know you belong. And the plants belong. And the animals belong. And you're going to contemplate what home means to you and to those to which you read this book. And, if my prediction has any place at all here, I think that you and your readers will find a certain bit of home right there in the pages of this book, held in suspension there, waiting for you, the readers, to discover it.
I cannot wait for June 2019 to come so that you and so many others can enjoy this beautiful story!
EVAN'S PREVIOUS VISITS TO THE PODCAST:
I've had the pleasure of following Evan's career in children's publishing since the start ad there's a chance you've been listening/reading along as well.
I first met Evan at Books of Wonder in NYC for the Path to Peace event with GRANDFAThER GANDHI creators Arun Gandhi, Bethany Hegedus, and Evan as well as MALCOLM LITTLE: THE BOY WHO GREW UP TO BECOME MALCOLM X author Ilyasah Shabaz. We recorded the panel on March 21, 2014 and I shared it as episode #43 of The Let's Get Busy Podcast (now The Children's Book Podcast).
On June 2, 2014 Evan returned to the podcast for a more in depth interview over GRANDFATHER GANDHI. I shared it as episode #56 of the Let's Get Busy Podcast.
In July of 2016 I invited Evan back to the podcast to share THE STORYTELLER, his author illustrator debut. I shared it as episode #271 of the All The Wonders: The Children's Book Podcast.
And a few months later the team at All The Wonders chose to feature THE STORYTELLER in their All The Wonders of The Storyteller.
And when Evan and I last spoke on the record it was for MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS, a picture book authored by Michael Mahin. I shared it as episode #388 of All The Wonders: The Children's Book Podcast.
FIRST LOOK AT THE STORY:
Thanks, Evan! And thanks, Atheneum!
YOU ARE HOME will publish in June of 2019 from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.