Dancing With Tex
Behind the scenes…
Just as George and Tex encountered challenges, my own story had its share of ups and downs until its successful ending.
In 1995, my friend, Rick Erwin, a highly talented videographer, needed a writer and co-producer for a special video project with Amoco (now BP). Amoco wanted to educate its international marketing managers about their good work for The International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, Wisconsin. They were funding an outdoor Whooping Crane Exhibit and wanted to record their environmental commitment, along with this historic event.
As I walked along the winding trails, hearing the cranes calling and seeing gigantic, prehistoric birds up close, I fell in love with the place. It’s still the only spot in the world that cares for all 15 species of cranes.
While interviewing co-founder Dr. George Archibald, I was intrigued by a personal story that George told me off-camera. It was almost too incredible to be true. George spoke about his friendship with a rare Whooping Crane named Tex, who believed she was a person. Tex had been imprinted by a zookeeper, so her brain believed people were her real family. As a result, Tex avoided all other birds.
Unfortunately, the Whooping Cranes were on the verge of extinction. Every chick mattered. Since cranes perform a mating dance before laying an egg, George thought she might accept him as a human dancing partner. It took six years of dancing. Finally, Tex was able to lay a fertile egg. That egg hatched into Gee Whiz, whose brood helped save the Whooping Cranes from dying off forever.
That story never left me.
I knew George’s story could become a delightful children’s book. But since most of my experience involved writing for adults, it took me a long journey to write this story for children. I took classes, joined the national Society of Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and faced numerous challenges for over a decade. No matter how long it took, I knew the only thing that counted was not giving up on myself.
At one point, the story was almost published by a traditional press, but they ran out of funding. I participated in a musical writing workshop, and collaborated with Jenny Stafford and Russ Coutinho in creating a children’s musical version of this story. “A Whooper’s Tale: The Incredible Story Of Tex” ran for a glorious two nights at the former Theatre Building Chicago to rave reviews. (Still available for production!)
While I fussed over each draft of this story, I was asked to write another children’s book. Capstone Press was doing a series on different types of justice, and I was assigned to cover social justice. While researching youth leadership for, Social Justice: How You Can Make A Difference,” I got inspired by the stories of young children who started their own non-profits to transform our world. I didn’t want to give up.
Why this is important…
This story is not just about a man and a bird.
Dancing With Tex offers readers a reinforcement of positive values. Believing in oneself. Having faith in our dreams. And persevering in the face of obstacles.
Beyond that, Dancing With Tex raises environmental awareness. If we don’t care for our land, water and endangered species, how can we teach our children to take action?
Added bonuses include an introduction, useful scientific vocabulary words, questions & answers, and a “behind the scenes” closing.
Our mission is creating more inspirational stories, so we can bring more positivity into the world. If you want to sponsor a story that inspires youth, I’d love to hear from you!