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Author of Black Lagoon books inspires McConnellsburg students

October 23, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -- School was out for the day, yet there I was, waiting to see the librarian and a man they say was from the Black Lagoon.

Everyone said Mrs. Ott was a nice librarian, but I was late.

I remember the Black Lagoon books from when I was little. Those monstrous teachers, scary librarians, eerie custodians and creepy nurses from the lagoon were mean.

What would the author of the Black Lagoon be like?

I hoped as I walked that he would, at the very least, not be green.

Behind the glass, I could see him waiting, the author of the Black Lagoon.

His bright yellow hat and even brighter yellow shoes stopped me in my tracks.

"Is that Mr. Thaler?" I asked.

"Yes, it is," said Mrs. Ott, pulling me back.

Looking up from the book on his lap, he took me in.

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"Hello, you must be our journalist," he said, giving me an easy grin.

"This will probably be my last tour," said Mike Thaler, author of the Black Lagoon book series.

At age 72, Thaler is the author of more than 200 children's books.

He is working on his next series of books, "Tales from the Back Pew," and with the first due out in February, he knew the hoopla only would start anew.

"He is one of my students' favorite authors," Ott said.

Sitting down in the author's chair in Mrs. Pamela Ott's library at McConnellsburg Elementary School, he reached for a book no one had ever seen.

"The Preacher Creature Strikes on Sunday" stretched across the shiny cover in bold green letters.

"God must like nuts," he read. "Because all we get to say are almonds."

Thaler read from his new book while a dozen teachers and a few select students listened, captivated.

"How do you write these books?" asked 5-year-old Madisyn Culler.

"With a pencil," he said, smiling and flourishing his hand. "The ideas just come to me."

Thaler was not initially scheduled to stop in McConnellsburg, Ott said.

In late September, Ott said she received a call asking if she wanted the slot that just opened on the tour.

Thaler was wonderful, she said, signing hundreds of books and inspiring the students to write.

After the long day, Thaler, while enjoying a slice of cake, said that despite being tired, he could not imagine doing anything else.

"Five weeks at a different school every day," he said with a sigh. "But I'll retire only when I'm dead."

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To hear author Mike Thaler reading excerpts from some of his children's books, log on to:

http://www.teachingbooks.net

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