Einar Turkowski No Fear of Imaginary Creatures

Hollywood is often referred to as the dream factory. Einar Turkowski’s new picture book for young adults is set in a Hollywood-like landscape depicting surreal, dreamlike childhood memories.

By Holger Moos

“I remember how it all began,” we read at the beginning of Einar Turkowski’s new illustrated book, Die Geheimnisse von Pinewood Hill (The Secrets of Pinewood Hill). A boy and his family have moved to a new, big city. Everyone is in a “state of emergency,” we read at the beginning. But the book says little about either the big city or the family – except for his older brother Vince.

Instead, Chaska explores his immediate surroundings on his BMX bike: Big Pines, a natural setting full of godforsaken places. One of the drawings looks like famous Mulholland Drive and the atmosphere in Turkowski’s book evokes David Lynch’s mysterious film of the same name.


The plot’s location is hybrid. The hilly landscape around Pinewood Hill is based on the Hollywood Hills – including the famous lettering across them. But the title is also reminiscent of the famous British Pinewood Studios, where, for example, many of the James Bond movies were shot.

Chaska doesn’t lose his way on his aimless explorations; he always cycles home to the Coral House surrounded by dense vegetation in time for dinner. But he loses himself all the more in his fantasy worlds, which are at least as important and real to him as so-called reality.

It quickly becomes clear that the boy is a movie buff, with a penchant for 1970s action films with their car chase scenes. He calls his BMX bike Bandit, Burt Reynolds’s nickname in the action-comedy Smokey and the Bandit (1977). As the story progresses, abandoned or burning cars appear. . There is also something eerie, evoked for example by a frightening clown doll that watches the boy from a window, and by rare fauna such as the shy stone dormouse or mythical creatures like the schattenmull.

imagination is all that matters

Turkowski divides his story into 17 chapters. Each chapter consists of a double-page spread: one page tells the story, the other features an illustration. Turkowski’s meticulous pencil drawings are captivating and highly detailed. There is plenty of room for magical elements, such as fish flying through the air and buzzing around a tree, or a winged horse with dead eyes blocking a tunnel entrance.

Thanks to Vince, who is impressed by the fantastical observations in his brother’s notebook, Chaska gains confidence in his talent instead of continuing to fear his own imagination. Whether he’ll later really become a film director, as he dreams, is not so important. Imagination is all that matters!
  • Turkowski: Die Geheimnisse von Pinewood Hill, book cover © Einar Turkowski / kunstanstifter
  • Turkowski: Die Geheimnisse von Pinewood Hill, chapter 3 © Einar Turkowski / kunstanstifter
  • Turkowski: Die Geheimnisse von Pinewood Hill, chapter 15 © Einar Turkowski / kunstanstifter

Logo Rosinenpicker © Goethe-Institut / Illustration: Tobias Schrank Einar Turkowski: Die Geheimnisse von Pinewood Hill
Mannheim: Kunstanstifter, 2022. 40 S.
ISBN: 978-3-948743-20-8