By: Nick Travis
Corner Brook-based teacher and author Floyd Spracklin’s new book, Shellbird, will take audiences on a treasure hunt right in our own back yard
In the middle of the Humber River near Corner Brook is a small, unassuming island named Shellbird. Anyone familiar with the folklore, however, knows Shellbird isn’t any old island. According to local legend, it’s home to pirate gold, and a pirate ghost to go with it.
Floyd Spracklin took inspiration from the tale of the island’s treasure in his new novel, Shellbird. The book follows Jen and Eric, two teenagers from Corner Brook who are hot on the trail of a centuries-old tale of pirate treasure. Along the way they tackle many of the problems any regular teenager may face in their own lives.
Spracklin was born in Buchans in 1950. He and his wife now live in Corner Brook, where he spent most of his teaching career. For 30 years Spracklin served as a teacher, a vice-principal, a principal and an English Language Arts Department Head.
Post-retirement he has spent his time as an instructor and curriculum consultant in Hopedale, Natuashish and Sheshatshui as part of Academy Canada’s Labrador programmes.
Having spent most of his teaching career as a junior high teacher, Spracklin has written this book with young adults in mind.
“My current book, Shellbird, is mostly fantasy about my youth, Walter Mitty moments if you will,” said Spracklin. “In the role of my main character I’ve incorporated many of my experiences with our own daughters as well as the many female students that I’ve taught over the years.”
Old man in the mountain
Shellbird Island sits past Corner Brook up the Humber River, and is notably watched over by the Old Man in the Mountain – a cliff face that bears resemblance to an elderly sailor. It’s said three chests of gold were buried here by pirates in order to stop it from being taken by the authorities.
In some tellings of the story, two pirates left the ship for Shellbird Island to hide their loot, but only one came back. As is common in pirate folklore it’s said one of the men killed and buried the other so as to leave a spirit behind to safeguard the treasure from would-be plunderers until their crew returns.
Audiences will see the story of Shellbird through its main character, 14-year-old Jen. Spracklin said that he believes there aren’t a lot of books that appeal to people around the age of his main character and hopes his novel will strike a chord with young audiences.
Not only does Shellbird take us on a treasure hunt, it also navigates the sometimes tumultuous experience that is being a teenager.
“My first novel (Shellbird) is written from the point of view of a 14-year-old teenaged girl,” said Spracklin. “I tried to deal with her emotions, her values, her family life and her struggles with bullying while at the same time juggling a difficult cousin living in the same household with her who has his own issues.”
To get a copy of Shellbird visit drcpublishingnl.com, Downhome stores, Amazon.ca, Chapters and Coles book stores. The book can also be personally ordered from Spracklin through [email protected]