Our Prelaunch Got Game

One year ago today, Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber of The Dallas Mavericks read Strum and The Wild Turkeys for an IG Live event called Reading Timeout. Even though the book did not launch for another month, this event gave me insight into the power of sharing a read aloud and its message with kids. It was also just so cool.

If you have been following the story of this story, you know that this book was catalyzed by real events. Three years ago, brothers Avi and Barry Glina sent me a picture of a peacock and a pack of wild turkeys and asked me to write a story about it. It turned into Strum and The Wild Turkeys and was published by Edumatch Books in April. Avi was so excited about the book that he was telling his friend Dwight Powell about it. Dwight was excited for his friend and for the timing because he was going to be doing a reading of a book for Reading Timeout and decided that our book was a perfect fit.

We first heard the news through Avi, but we waited excitedly to see it officially announced on NBC Dallas through an interview with Dwight. He spoke about their reading initiative, the Mavs Whataburger Reading Challenge which is a 40 days reading program. “Students from K-12th grade are asked to read for 20 minutes a day in hopes of not only making it fun but of improving childhood literacy.” A feature of the program is a live reading from one of the Mavs players, and Dwight shared with the news team that he chose our book because of his long friendship with Avi, his memorable times at the ranch in the Kawartha Region in Ontario where the story is set, and the beautiful messages in the book. Dwight also shared that there were times when he struggled with reading or didn’t enjoy it. He remembers the impact of hearing high school students read to him and getting him excited about reading. Dwight seemed genuinely humble and happy about being able to do that for others.

All of our families eagerly watched and participated in the IG Live event along with our publisher and friends. It was exhilarating to hear our book being read but even more meaningful to hear Dwight’s take on it. “I think it’s a beautiful story. Not everybody's built the same, not everybody does the same things, and that’s perfectly okay. You can do whatever it is you want to do, be whoever it is you want to be, on your own or with other people, whatever it might be. But, you don’t have to, you know, do exactly as your brothers and sisters, for example.” There are so many ways that people connect to the story and its characters.

This was quite a pre-launch. While I’m still dreaming about receiving a massive order from Mark Cuban and the team to give Strum and The Wild Turkeys out as prizes for future events, I am forever grateful that the first public reading was done for a good cause. This and the star athletes who read it made the pre-launch eternally memorable. I will always be able to say that Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber were the first to read our book in public, getting my words and Alana’s works out to the world. This experience was a slam dunk.