CALUMET - Had Maranda Wilson and her then-fourth grade peers in Holly Rivest's class taken a time capsule to 2012, they would have learned the fate of "Mine Collar Mystery."
The soft-cover children's book, that tells a story about a boy who worked in the copper mines in the late 1800s and time-travels to the 21st century, will officially be published by Mudminnow Press March 31.
"I truly believed in the story. I just knew it was a really good story," said Rivest, who teaches fourth grade at C-L-K Elementary in Calumet. "But this is bigger than we ever dreamed of."
Daily Mining Gazette/Kelly Fosness
C-L-K Elementary fourth grade teacher Holly Rivest, holding a printed version of “Mine Collar Mystery,” stands near a collection of Great Lakes Great Books in the elementary library.
Rivest said "Mine Collar Mystery" was written and illustrated by her class in 2006. The story came to fruition while studying local history and it was a collaborative effort, conducting research, editing and illustrating page by page, from start to finish. At the time, Rivest said Scholastic was having a writing contest and she saw it as an opportunity for the students to enter their story.
"We didn't win anything from Scholastic," she said. "But that's the way it goes."
Rejection letter after rejection letter from publishers of all sorts, Rivest decided to have the story printed on a smaller scale. Through a loan from the C-L-K Foundation, 1,000 copies of the book were printed and sold for $10 each at local stores and the school.
"The idea was to get them out there, and pay back the loan," Rivest said. "All proceeds went back to the school."
While her fourth-grade students moved on to the fifth grade, then sixth, seventh and so on, Rivest kept the story alive. She submitted "Mine Collar Mystery" to Great Lakes Great Books in hopes of earning a children's book award, which it did. The book gained further recognition through the Michigan Citizenship Collaborative as a resource for teachers to use teaching Michigan history.
But the book's success didn't end there.
Rivest said many helping hands played a role in the development of the book, including Kathleen Harter from Keweenaw National Historical Park and local publisher and owner of Mudminnow Press, Lloyd Wescoat.
"Lloyd had helped us edit the story and so she knew a lot about what the story was all about," Rivest said. "I wanted to see it in the hands of a real publisher so that's where she came in."
Wescoat said she wanted to see "Mine Collar Mystery" to the end and was pleased to take over the rights of the book.
"When we publish it, there will be a different page in here," she said while turning the cover. "It will be registered and it will say Mudminnow Press on it. It will have a different back cover and then it will also have that barcode on there."
While it's always been Rivest's dream to have the story published, only "it never had a publisher, it had a printer," until recently, she's excited to know it will be ready by summer.
"Now we'll have a truly published book," she said. "A published book with an ISBN number. That's exciting."
Wilson, who is now a sophomore, said seeing "Mine Collar Mystery," in stores makes her feel like she's accomplished something special.
"I think this book will help kids get a feel of history," she said in an email response, "but in a fun, creative way."
Of special note, Rivest said the proceeds raised from their first printed version were given to the school, which then donated the money to the elementary library.
"The library dedicated that money to buying the Great Lakes Books every year," she said. "It was a nice little circle."
"Mine Collar Mystery" is expected to be in local bookstores by summer.