(This story is as much about the imagery as it is the emotion. When possible, I would advise the artist to show as much of the sky as possible. Almost every page should feel like a panorama.)
Ella’s my mate.
She’s a champion junior surfer.
(Wide panorama of surf beach with grey, rolling skies. Teen girl, with woolly jumper and shorts on, sitting, hugging her knees, and her old mixed-breed dog, both of them watching tumbling waves.)
People say she’s gutsy learning to catch a wave out here.
Coral break, big rips.
(Image of the wild surf. No clean waves.)
Well, she had help.
When I was a pup, they called me Bale, because I was born in a hay bail.
“Here, Louie, an Aussie dog will be good for yas.”
That was the first thing I remember hearing.
(Brilliant dusk. Farm hay shed, stocky old farmer walking from pile of loose hay carrying a puppy towards one of his staff, a skinny Italian, working with his top off.)
Louie was working his way around the country.
(Skinny Italian, no top, maybe an Italian flag bandana wrapped around his neck, holding surfboard in one hand. Bending over and telling puppy to stay.)
“Stay…” he would tell me.
(Puppy, happy, on hind legs in shore-break waves. Italian running back from deeper water to rescue it.)
“Jeez, Bale! Watch for the rip! See how it comes through from the left?”
(From behind, we see Italian, knee deep in shore-break, holding puppy, showing it the rips.)
Louie was the best Italian surfer on the coast!
“And be mindful of those bigger sets.”
(Italian driving a beat-up 70s VW van. Puppy on the dash. Surfboard on the roof. Italian talking to puppy, happily.)
Not sure what coast that was, though.
(Italian and dog, now older, at cliff lookout, Italian is pointing out the surf below, talking about it.)
“Not today, Bale. The swell is going to close out.”
We surfed them all!
(Totally different beach/weather, Italian, laughing/calling as he is running into the water with surfboard, dog running after him, being met by waves.)
“I said STAY, Bale!”
And found ways to get by.
(Dog, now fully grown, watching Italian on ladder, working in a team of fruit pickers. Van in background.)
It was the best life!
(Dog and Italian around camp fire, van behind them. Stars dominate the panorama.)
Then, one day, Louie was gone.
It was horrible.
Like the world had ended.
Only it hurt more!
(Plane flying through streaky cloud sky, as seen from the below.)
The farms were horrible without Louie.
I kept running to the beach looking for him.
(Dog sitting on own, watching the surf.)
That was where I met Ella.
(Dog and little girl with one piece swimming togs and floaties, staring at each other on beach.)
Her Dad called me Bucket.
I don’t know why?
A name’s a name.
(Dog sleeping in tipped-on-side bucket on wooden porch.)
But I was Ella’s mate!
A second chance?
Oh! I was so, so grateful!
“You should learn to do that!” I’d tell her. “I’ll teach yas!”
(From behind we see little girl sitting on sand, watching surf/kids surfing. Dog is beside her, barking.)
Everyone else thought I was just barking.
I could tell.
(Girl, a little older, walking towards water with a boogie board, dog jumping around her, barking happily.)
(Girl, older again, now smiling, running with long, foam board towards waves. Dog barking.)
Even Ella thought so…
(Girl charging towards waves in proper wetsuit, with good surfboard. Dog barking as it is hit by a wave.)
I’d never whimper “boo” to Louie.
He, y’know, knew stuff.
Louie was an adult.
I’d have to tell her ten times!
“Watch the rip!”
(From above, we see dog in shallows barking, as girl paddles out. Most of page is the maze of waves and rips that lie ahead.)
(Girl taking off on a big wave. Dog barking from rocky point.)
“No, no! Get over the back! It’s gunna close out!”
(Dog barking, girl paddling over big wave, is just a speck on the horizon.)
I’d advise Ella when to stay dry.
Once, I saved her life.
I’m sure of it!
(Dog biting girl’s bum/pulling girl back from going into water.)
And sometimes she’d simply ask me…
“Whachoo reckon, Bucket?”
It made me feel good! The BEST!
To be asked.
(Girl, lying on belly, on sand, propped up on elbows, watching dog’s reaction to the surf. Dog is watching the surf.)
(Girl out on water, cutting back into shadow of big wave.)
We talk all the time!
She tells me how she went.
What the surf’s like.
She says it’s always that little bit different out there to what you think.
(Girl, now the teenager from the start, walking back from beach, through sunset with board, while talking to dog, which is now old.)
People think she’s just being friendly.
Well, she is.
(Girl and dog happy, playing. Dog barking.)
But it’s more than that, too.
(Girl leaving to compete in surfing comp. Dog staying at home.)
When you learn to surf, you’re given the ocean.
(Dog curled up, sleeping under old telly. Girl is on telly, competing in surfing comp.)
That’s what I reckon.
(Dog in very tree-filled bush yard, jumping all over girl who is returning from surfing comp.)
I’ll always be Ella’s coach.
(Beautiful streaks of morning light everywhere as Dog and girl running through gate, with surfboard.)
She’ll always be my home.
(From behind we see girl and dog walking along bush track towards beach.)