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

Mainly cloudy skies ahead for Friday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Expect delays as Highway 1 widening in Langford begins this month

Year-long project to widen, add meridians between West Shore Parkway and Leigh Road

Ivy pull, beach clean-up targeted for McNeill Bay

Volunteers aim for big Saturday to restore McNeill Bay

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Island contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Most Read