Hi, my name is Andrea and I am a teen author creating stories for preschool kids inspired by my love for my little sister.
When I was three years old, my parents signed me up for dance classes, ballet to be exact, and I just loved it. The little pink leotard and tutu were everything to me and wearing them made me feel like a true ballerina. Ever since then, dance became my passion and all I wanted to do was dance, because from a young age, I knew dance was my happy place. Into my teen years, I also know dance to be my safe place, as everything feels just right when I dance.
Training competitively since the age of 5, and performing at numerous regional, national, and international competitions, as well as being part of professional performances, such as “The Nutcracker” by the Toronto International Ballet Theatre and “Inhale” By NLC Dance Company, to name a few, made me want to expand my reach and try dancing on camera. This is when I collaborated with Merey Ismailova to choreograph a beautiful ballet piece and worked with Kareem Byfield from Chemistry Dance Completion as the DOP and Ricardo Araújo from To Photography as the photographer, to capture it on camera. I included my little sister Gabriela, known as Gabi, as a way to enhance the story, where she finds a doll at the beach and it transforms into a beautiful ballerina (me) in her imagination, and share my love for the arts with her. She absolutely loved it and kept asking when we can do it again. This is when I came up with the idea to make this into a mini series of short dance films, also to give other dancers an opportunity to showcase their talent and gain on camera experience, as a step towards their professional goals. The main objective of this self-produced mini web series is to inspire the audience (targeted at little children and teens alike) to pursue dance and the art of movement and encourage them to dream big and have the confidence that anything is possible, starting with their imagination and beyond.
“Little Girl, Big Imagination” dance film series launched in 2022 with 3 episodes and is about exploring and enjoying the world around us in an artistic and creative way. It is about noticing the little things and giving them an entire life of their own in a little girl’s head. Episode 4 in now in post-production with Ricardo Araújo as the DOP and episode 5 is in being planned.
From these short dance films, and my mom asking me to read with my little sister Gabi over the summer, came the idea to transform these little stories and concepts into Childrens Books. We had these beautiful pictures by Ricardo already, and as I was looking at them, and rewatching the short dance films, the story came to me easily. What took some time was to make it simple enough for Gabi to be able to read and I thought that if she saw and read the same word or words over and over, she kind of memorizes it and can then easily recognize it on another page. So with my mom and I, we reworked it a bit to repeat a few key words throughout the book to make it into an early literacy tool for young pre-school kids like my sister, and those going into grade 1-2 or so. Not going to lie, the final editing and formatting, the cover and putting it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Google Books – all that was mom. I just remember the feeling of happiness and pride when we got our first proof, that this is something the three of us kind of worked on, my little sister Gabi being the instigator (all of this to help her read), and my mom taking my story and doing the hard work of formatting the book and publishing it – this feels so amazing and I am so proud of us. We’ve even added the key words at the beginning and at the end of the book to kind of prepare the kids for an easier and more enjoyable reading, then wrap it up at the end that yes, they can indeed read those words on their own. It seems to work on my little sister 😊
My goal now is to share this with as many young readers as possible, hoping to contribute to their learning and making their reading experience enjoyable and fun. I also hope they can relate to the real pictures of my sister and I in the first book and maybe even ask their parents to take them to dance class where they can find their happy and safe place as well.
As I start high school, I plan to convert the remaining short films into children’s books as well, for a total of 5 books/episodes in grade 9, and who knows, maybe more in the future. I am also thinking of translating these into French, to reach a wider audience all throughout Canada, but this is probably a project the summer before grade 10.
Thank you for reading my story and helping to spread the word about my ‘”Little Girl, Big Imagination” project.
The links to where the buy the books in paperback, hardcover or EBook formats is on my website https://www.andreamatei.com/author
Short films are available for free on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@littlegirlbigimagination
The first book is self-published and available on E-Book, Paperback and Hardcopy formats as follows:Amazon: E-Book & PaperbackBarnes & Noble: E-Book & PaperbackLulu: HardcoverKobo & GoogleBooks – Ebook (Applebooks in progress) All links can be found at www.andreamatei.com/author
I ALSO HAVE A NEW CHRISTMAS STORY OUT!
“Little Girl, Big Imagination: By the Tree” is meant to transport young readers to a world filled with holiday wonder, where they can journey alongside the young protagonist as she embarks on a magical adventure, by the Christmas Tree. The story emphasizes the power of imagination, the joy of giving, and the true spirit of the holiday season.
Visit my website at andreamatei.com to order my books and watch my films!