(Each cousin has their own distinct personality trait – shy, grumpy, cute… Up to artist. But actions must show this in almost every frame. Brother is the cheeky one)
Little Elena was born on the plains.
(Small girl in traditional Venezuelan dress.)
She went everywhere with her cousins. All nine of them!
Her brother, too!
(Girl and cousins, some a bit older, some a bit younger, all South American, walking, jumping, etc, down the street together.)
To the swimming hole!
(Playing in swimming hole.)
(Using each other as step ladders to steal mangos)
To their scary uncle’s farm.
(Farmer ploughing field, watching, grumpy, as kids play with scarecrow, three of them sitting in a row in the doney.)
A roaming bundle of colour and chaos, dust and noise!
(Double page spread of them all wrestling, playing, chasing each other, raising dust.)
Everything on the plains was about tradition. Weddings, birthdays…
(Pinyata – parents playing music.)
(Man on walking horse, playing cuatro, singing, cows with full bladders following) him. Kids following cows, mimicking what they see.)
(Elena trying to climb greased pole, her brother boosting her, flower framed box with a prize or two in it on top of pole.)
Each year there was the Carnival! The cousins would all dress in costumes, play with water, and go to the parade!
(Anything fun and bright colours, clowns, masks, animal feathers, anything happy. Food everywhere, everybody dancing, eating, throwing water bombs, buckets of water.)
and listen to tales, like of the dancing devils!
(Whole village some playing instruments, behind preacher who has cross out, while three men in devil’s costumes, with very big red heads and many horns, wearing rosemary beads and crosses, dance backwards, away from him.)
Sometimes the plains were hard. There were bullies
(Elena looking up, scared, at big bully.)
But Elena always felt safe.
(Cousins standing around her as she walks past, big bully who is surrounded by three of the boys.)
It was tradition on the plains, even if you were poor, to make yourself nice new clothes to greet the New Year.
It was Elena’s favourite time!
(Two or thee images of Elena gathering cloth at markets with her mother, learning how to sew with her, standing in front of mirror, holding new dress to her chest, while girl cousins sew behind her.)
Elena, though, was beginning to look beyond the plains.
(Standing on long highway, watching a plane flying away.)
She had started playing more and more on her own. Yet she wondered how she could ever leave her cousins behind? It wasn’t possible!
(Sitting on wall, reading about the Amazon mountains.)
Elena’s desire to leave and to stay drove her MAD!
And made her impossibly sad.
Still, New Year’s Eve she gathered with all the families in their nice, new clothes.`
Letting off crackers was a tradition, too – as old as the Earth!
But this year a few of the boys took it too far!
(Three boys throwing crackers into a hut with a straw roof. Girl running out the other side.)
“Quick, Momma! The hut is on fire!” Elena cried.
(Hut on fire.)
Everybody came, from everywhere.
(Families charging out of their houses with buckets and rakes, etc, including grandparents and very young children. All dressed nice.)
(The young, the old, the strong, the frail)
(Putting out fire. Some sitting exhausted.)
In their nice new clothes,
(Elena’s parents, and cousins walking away from smouldering hut remains, their clothes and faces filthy, ash falling.)
Elena had never felt more proud!
(Elena, grubby face, clothes destroyed ,ash falling, big smile.)
It was the best New Year’s Eve celebration of all time!
(Family celebrating, dancing.)
Elena fell asleep (surrounded by her cousins) watching the stars.
She now knew, no matter how far she might one day roam,
(Elena, father’s legs behind her, in a queue to get on a plane,)
the love of her family would travel with her,
(Elena in a room that has a totally different style, and view out of window, but photos of her cousins on the desk.)
and be her home.
That the sights she saw, she’d be seeing for them all.
(Elena standing in front of cliffs and sunset.)
And reunions would rock her world!
(Elena running, arms wide, into the embrace of her cousins, brother out front.)