WADESBORO — This fall, the Ansonia Theatre will present “Runaway Turkeyette,” a play based on a book written by Dr. Amy Horne and her daughter, 10-year-old McKenzie Horne.
In the story, Turkey asks to be considered for the Thanksgiving “presidential pardon.” When she is denied, she flies the coop to go on adventures and finds herself in New York City, where she even has a chance to dance with the Lockettes and is later dubbed Turkeyette. Colorful illustrations accompany the imaginative story.
“Runaway Turkeyette” was born when McKenzie experienced some serious health issues last summer. After a series of medical emergencies and time at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte left McKenzie temporarily stuck at home recovering, Horne searched for activities for her daughter.
When she found a small cottonball turkey craft kit, she gave it to McKenzie to amuse her. When McKenzie needed something else to do, Horne suggested that she write a story about a turkey who wants to become a Rockette.
The Hornes worked with artist Brent Vernon. Although they were unsure whether Vernon would be able to make the illustration meeting on Feb. 15 due to the large snowstorm, he did, and spent three hours with McKenzie discussing her vision for the illustrations.
The pictures are full of special meeting. In one background, Wadesboro is indicated on the map. The train on the cover, modeled after her father’s model train, the Crescent Limited, is the Norwood Limited, and the conductor looks like McKenzie’s father. Characters in the book are also drawn to look like McKenzie’s doctors. Even McKenzie’s dog, Lilly, makes an appearance.
There are several other special connections. Turkeyette attends the Turkey Jubilette (inspired by the Macy’s Day Parade) whose initials, T.J., also stand for the name of a nephew of Amy’s who was killed in a gun accident. One of the balloons featured in the parade is drawn to resemble teddy bears that Amy used to make.
McKenzie’s two favorite scenes are the parade scene and one where Turkeyette walks through a cotton field with the pumpkin patch, horses and animals because McKenzie likes the background and that Turkeyette is so happy.
Horne said her favorite page is the last one, where an aged Turkeyette reflects on her life.
“I like this one because she’s reflecting on how everything worked together,” Horne said. “It’s a realization of how all things worked together for God’s glory.”
Horne and McKenzie included Romans 8:28 on the dedication page: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That is what this book is about, Amy said.
“This is more than a 10-year-old wanting to write a book,” she said. “This is a tribute to the people who healed our child. This is the good born from the bad.”
From friends and family who prayed for McKenzie to the doctors who cared for her at Levine, Horne said she appreciates them all.
“They cared not just for McKenzie, but for her whole family,” she said. “We certainly appreciate the community for their support.”
The book was published by Rockin Rhyme Story Time and printed in Tennessee. The two authors hope to write a book geared toward slightly older readers about Turkeyette’s adventures in New York City.
Currently, Horne and McKenzie are busy preparing for Turkeyette’s day at the Ansonia Theatre. Amy converted the book to a play format, and McKenzie has been busily designing and sewing the costumes for the short children’s play. In it, McKenzie will be one of two narrators, and her younger sister, McCarter, will play Turkeyette.
McKenzie is very proud to be an author and plans to continue writing while pursuing a career as a veterinarian. She enjoyed being able videotape her grandmother opening her newly published book.
“She said she would cherish it forever,” McKenzie said.
“Runaway Turkeyette” can be purchased for $14 at www.RockinRhymeStoryTime.BigCartel.com. Teaching materials for grades K-6 are available for purchase to accompany the story. There is also a Facebook page for the book.