Dance, Y'all, Dance

Set to the rhythm of a Country Swing dance, this rhyming picture book two-steps readers through a lively night at the Dance Hall.

Written by Kelly Bennett, Illustrated by Terri Murphy (Published by Bright Sky Press).


Author Read-Aloud on YouTube!


"Bennett captures the flavor of a time when whole families . . . would gather on Saturday night for a time of fun and dancing at the community dance hall.” —San Angelo (TX) Standard-Times
"Re-claim those wonderful times--and dance the two-step in the process… heart-warming illustrations have a bit of a "Norman Rockwell-ish" flavor that give readers that everybody's-welcome-at-the-dance feel. The result: A most unforgettable read.”  —Rita Lorraine Hubbard on Young Adult Books Central

Additional Reviews

  • – June 28, 2010 
  • “Illustrated in a delightful fashion by Terri Murphy that celebrates country music and the way folks of all ages love to dance to it. It recreates the fun and excitement of Saturday nights at the dancehall for ages 4 to 8” – Book Reviews by Alan Caruba
  • – June 18, 2010
  • “The lyrical two-step rhythm will have you singing the words as you enjoy one perfect night of fun and dancing at the dance hall” – Christina Lewis on – June 18, 2010
  • – June 2010
    “Young readers get a sense of what one form of entertainment was like in recent-past rural America in the delightful little book Dance, Y'all, Dance – – June 2010

Q and A with Terri Murphy

KB: What is your favorite picture book and why?

TM: Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. It’s about a daffy sheriff who heads out to the desert to retrieve Sweetness, an orphan who has run away from the orphanage and its caretaker, mean ol’ Mrs. Sump. Time after time the sheriff gets into a pickle, and it’s Sweetness who keeps saving him but he hasn’t got a clue to her cleverness. The humorous cowboy dialect puts it over the top, as well as the art of G. Brian Karas, one of my favorite illustrators. It’s just the right marriage of words and art.

KB: How do you choose the look of characters or scenes in the story?

TM: I let the characters speak to me. Sometimes there is a bit of research, but mostly it involves being very quiet at the beginning and really listening to the words of the author. There is a passage in Stephen King’s book “On Writing” where he writes, “Good stories seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky...your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.” It’s much the same way with illustrating. I’ll sketch and sketch, tossing some things, keeping others, until I recognize a character or a scene has suddenly come together. Then I’ll play “cinematographer,” figuring out which scenes lend themselves to close-ups, group scenes, birds-eye view, or exaggeration. That is the nuts and bolts of designing illustration. Then comes the fun part....painting! And in that process, I keep watch on the empty sky.

Making This Book

Illustrations in Progress

Illustrator Terri Murphy begins by sketching images of the characters—just seeing what comes. She draws in pencil on tissue paper.

"At a hundred 'n' two, Grand Pappy Skiddle

Is still slappin' spoons and bowin' his fiddle."


"Grandpa and his admirer came pretty fast," Terri says, about this sketch from Dance Y'all Dance. "The bass player I had to fiddle with."

In this early sketch, "the bass player seemed too young," Terri explained.

And she repositioned his hat.

Once the scene is sketched out and feels right, Terri will begin to paint.


Buy the Book

via Blue Willow Bookshop

via IndieBound

via Bright Sky Press

Meet Dance, Y'all, Dance’s illustrator Terri Murphy

What is your favorite childhood memory?

I grew up in Chicago, in a neighborhood that had more buildings and sidewalks than grass. My friend Tei lived in an apartment building on a double lot so she had a huge yard. Right around the time the movie 101 Dalmatians came out (the first one), her two Dalmatians had puppies. Every day we’d play in the grass and sunshine and a sea of spots.

Did you have any nicknames growing up?

Toothpick and Olive Oyl.

Any pets?

Parakeets. Somehow, we’d always become home to a stray cat that would find its way to our house and take permanent residence, sometimes with a little cajoling.

What did you think you’d be when you grew up?

A nun, a ballerina, a veterinarian...or an artist.

When did you decide to illustrate for children’s books?

I’d been a professional illustrator for some time but it was when reading bedtime stories to my sons that I could see how the pictures spoke to them, sometimes louder than the words. Ours is a family formed by adoption. I thought it would be a nice gift to my boys if I were to write and illustrate a little book for them about how special they were and how they lived in our hearts before they were born. The project grew and grew, and the more I found out about illustrating for picture books, the deeper I got. The little gift book turned into a lifelong passion.

What do you like best about your job?

Seeing through the eyes of a child....again.

For more about Terri Murphy visit her website: