Day 282: Dance

Matt Zurbo


Amelia loved to dance.
(Girl dancing.)

On tables…
(Girl dancing on top of picnic table. Lunching family looking at her, bemused.)

On rocks…
(On large rock. Person walking dog looking confused.)

By moonlight…
(Dancing in streaks of sideways moonlight.)

Oh, oh, Amelia loved dancing!
(Girl dancing surrounded by hay bails, arms out wide, big smile.)

Not everyone was impressed, though.
“Why are you dancing?” Gina Gripe moaned.
(Amelia dancing around laughing girl.)

“Do you realise how silly you look?” Gina insisted, but Amelia didn’t care.
(Girl doing wild 60s dance, angry girl following, shouting.)

“What is there to dance about?” protested Lilly.
Amelia didn’t reply.
(Angry girl next to Gina, pointing finger and shouting at dancing Amelia)

What they never asked was; “What are you dancing to?”
(Amelia, happy, dancing through park, a line of angry, complaining kids following her.)

In Amelia’s mind there was music!
Music everywhere!
(Close-up of girl dancing, eyes closed, content smile, people playing guitars from the clouds. Dragons dancing behind them.)

(Mermaid in bath, singing into drain, sound carry along plumbing to Amelia dancing in street.)

(Girl dancing, trumpets poking out from behind walls, doors, from blimp, and out from clouds and storm drains…)

They never asked where she imagined she was dancing…
(Girl dancing, surrounded by a jungle of flowers.)

(Girl underwater, lit by streaks of sunlight, floating/dancing in diver’s helmet, and air hose, with giant blue whale.)

(Girl dancing, surrounded by the grumpy kids from earlier, now all dressed as traditional Aztec dancers.)

“Listen, you…!” Gina protested.
But Amelia couldn’t be stopped!
(Angry Gina shouting, clenching fingers. Amelia dancing on girl’s head.)

When Amelia danced, it felt like she was painting the world!
(Black and white base of picture. Girl, arms all wavy, each one has colour coming off it, spreading across the page.)

Nothing could beat the songs in her head…
(Dancing in a library, everybody else is reading in silence.)

And when it rained hard, when things got Amelia down…
(Fingers from sides and above, all pointing down on girl, who has lowered head.)

there was no problem dancing couldn’t fix!
(Dancing, happy, in hard rain. A few kids peering at her through blinds of windows.)

Sometimes, Amelia’s brother would do a warm up act for her…
“Why did the chicken cross the road…?”
(Baby brother in oversized suit, holding joke list, reading jokes into microphone, while girl dances past behind him. The image starts as their bedroom, but becomes a stage.)

It often wasn’t easy.
Everybody wanted Amelia to do this type of dance…
(Girl, eyes closed, content smile, dancing in the middle of dancing rockabilly couples.)

Or that…
(Amelia doing cartwheel in middle of disco dancers all doing the same move.)

Some insisted!
(Group of people on left of page, all huddled, leaning down over Amelia, telling her off.)

All Amelia wanted to do, was be free!

Let her arms,

and legs,

and head,

go wherever they wanted…

and dance!
(Close up of Amelia dancing, surrounded by circular images of her body parts dancing.)

It was as simple (and beautiful) as that.
(Double page spread, all characters from book, including Amelia, eyes closed in contented joy, each doing their own unique dance. Kid brother in there somewhere, still telling jokes.)



The End

17 thoughts on “Day 282: Dance

  1. it’s just a wonderful story. I really liked it. I imagined Amelia, as a person who does what his heart desires, despite the opinions of other people. I also like dancing very much, but sometimes I get embarrassed and therefore i am not good enough. This girl has a lot to learn and I would really like to be like her. I like your stories. It is super cool!


  2. This story was the first of your stories I’m reading, after following the link on the NY Times article. To my pleasant surprise, it’s about a girl named Amelia who loves to dance. I’m named Amelia and I secretly love to dance too, though now I mainly only do it when there’s no one around except my cats. Lovely first story, and I also like how you’ve written down what the illustration would look like. I’m going back and starting from the beginning! 😀


  3. I read about this amazing project in today’s New York Times. Had to look it up on the web…and now subscribe. First story “Dance” Can’t wait to share these stories with my grandkids 5 and 7 just as they are- “Pictures in your Head” we’ll cal them. Well done Mr Zurbo!


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