John Howitt librarian Elizabeth Platz and author Troy Wilson show off his class picture from 1976-77. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Saanich author returns to his Alberni Valley elementary school for debut of new book

Troy Wilson first wrote Captain Otter when he was a Grade 1 student at John Howitt Elementary

A Vancouver Island author returned last month to the elementary school where his writing career began more than 40 years ago.

Troy Wilson, based in Saanich, debuted his fifth book The Sinking of Captain Otter to a group of students at John Howitt Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 25. Wilson was a John Howitt student in 1977 when he came up with the story of Captain Otter—originally written and illustrated on construction paper and stapled together by Wilson’s teacher, Mrs. Eivindson. Mrs. Eivindson read the story out loud to Wilson’s Grade 1 class and encouraged him to become a published author.

He achieved his dream in 2004 when his first book, Perfect Man, was published by Orca Books. During his classroom tour of Perfect Man, he decided to return to Captain Otter.

“I first thought of [publishing Captain Otter] after I had been out visiting schools,” he said. “I thought, how cool would it be to have the original in one hand and a new version in the other hand.”

Thursday was Wilson’s third time visiting his old elementary school, where he joined librarian Elizabeth Platz to read both versions of Captain Otter to a group of Grade 1 and 2 students.

It’s been 41 years since Captain Otter was read out loud for the first time, and a few things have changed. Wilson’s Grade 1 classroom is now empty. His Grade 1 teacher, Mrs. Eivindson, passed away a few years ago, but the duo did reunite over radio shortly after the publication of his first book. With illustrations by Maira Chiodi instead of Wilson, the new and improved Captain Otter is a slightly different story with a very different ending.

“This time is very special,” said Wilson. “Because I’m reading [The Sinking of Captain Otter] here for the first time. I knew from the get-go that this is the place I would read it first.

“It feels great to come full circle.”

Wilson’s updated pitch for Captain Otter was rejected in 2005, but after more than 10 years of persistence, The Sinking of Captain Otter was finally published.

“That’s something I emphasize with the kids,” said Wilson. “Persistence is the most important quality to have if you’re a writer. There’s persistence, luck and talent. Persistence gives you more chances to be lucky and allows you to get better at what you do.”

This lesson wasn’t lost on the students of John Howitt Elementary School. “We learned that he tried his best and didn’t give up,” said Grade 2 student Ellie Arcus after the presentation on Thursday. Arcus and her friend, Émilienne Lenormand, have written a book together, although they admit that they like drawing better than writing.

“I thought Captain Otter was really good,” added Grade 2 student Eli Darling. Darling is another John Howitt student who is interested in writing—he says he has written his own “small book.”

Wilson was happy on Thursday to hear that so many students at his former school are now interested in creating their own stories.

“I’m so glad to hear that long after me, new [students] are writing, as well,” he said.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

 

Grade 2 students Émilienne Lenormand and Ellie Arcus hold a copy of Troy Wilson’s book The Sinking of Captain Otter. Émilienne and Ellie have written their own book together. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

John Howitt students Jillian Mayes (Grade 1) and Isaac Davis (Grade 2) stand with author Troy Wilson. Wilson holds a copy of the original Captain Otter that he wrote as a Grade 1 student at John Howitt. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Just Posted

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Man survived for days trapped in smashed truck north of Campbell River

Duncan Moffat, 23, found by hunter by the side of the road near Sayward

Vancouver Island teen aims to build a bionic arm

Prosthetic prototype project latest in Nanoose student’s math, tech ambitions

Former Nanaimo matchmaker Maryanna Sinclaire writing three-part memoir

Author presents first installment of ‘Memoirs of an Ex-Matchmaker’ at Nanaimo North Library

Time to reduce speed limit on Highway 18?

The speed limit is set as the maximum safe velocity for good weather, in daylight.

Calgarians vote ‘no’ to bidding for 2026 Winter Games, in plebiscite

Out of 767,734 eligible voters, 304,774 voted and 171,750 said ”no.”

Canada Post strike having ‘critical’ impact on retailers, eBay tells PM

Canada Post says it is now facing an unprecedented backlog of shipments, largely as a result of strikes

NASA wants Canadian boots on the moon as first step in deep space exploration

The U.S. is seeking broad international support for the next-generation space station to send into orbit a in 2021

B.C. Lions GM Ed Hervey has plan for busy off-season

The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a crushing 48-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal

Vancouver Island man survived for ‘days’ trapped in smashed truck

Duncan Moffat, 23, found by hunter by the side of the road near Sayward

Fundraising firefighters complete quest for B.C. Paralympian

The four Penticton residents raising money for Victoria Paralympian complete journey

PHOTOS: Hockey history in B.C. as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

B.C. man wanted in connection to domestic assault in Edmonton

Sterling Miles Booker has ‘ROCK’ and ‘ROLL’ tattooed on his hands

Greater Victoria bike sharing company looks to lock out thieves, vandals

U-Bicycle has lost about 10 per cent of its fleet to theft and vandalism

Most Read