The Teacher from the Black Lagoon

written by Mike Thaler
Illustrated by Jared Lee


Mike Thaler's The Teacher from the Black Lagoon
illustrated by Jared Lee

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8


The perfect book for scared of school

It's normal. Being apprehensive about a new school, a new class, a new teacher.

And before Mike Thaler came along, there wasn't much you could do about it. Just say to the little ones, "Oh, it won't be so bad," then nudge them onto the bus or out of your car - with a lump in your own throat - hoping that in fact it wouldn't be so bad.

But 20 years after first publication of The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, prepared parents have this one on the shelf, ready to be called into use on the eve of a new school year, when apprehensions are highest.

The genius of this book is that your child's new classroom situation couldn't possibly be as bad as that of the kid in the book.

You see, he's heard that Mrs. Green is a monster. But until she walks into the room and writes her name on the blackboard - with her claws - he hadn't realized she was a real monster.

She's green. She breathes fire. And she must belong to the teachers union, because as soon as she introduces herself to the class she begins reducing class size.

  • Freddy Jones is reduced to a pile of ashes
  • Eric Porter's head replaces the class globe
  • Derek Bloom becomes the fraction lesson when she bites him in half

Are you getting the idea? The Teacher from the Black Lagoon turns tears, fears and apprehension into...giggles. If this isn't bibliotherapy, I don't know what is!

"Honey, do you think your teacher will be as bad as Mrs. Green?"

How popular and perfect is The Teacher from the Black Lagoon? Well, Thaler and publisher Scholastic have seen fit to come out with about a billion follow-ups:

collaged images from the book
  • The Teachers from the Black Lagoon
  • The Music Teacher from the Black Lagoon
  • The Substitute Teacher from the Black Lagoon
  • The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon
  • The Principal from the Black Lagoon
  • The Cafeteria Lady from the Black Lagoon
  • The Class from the Black Lagoon
  • The School Bus Driver from the Black Lagoon
  • The Class Trip from the Black Lagoon
  • The Art Teacher from the Black Lagoon
  • The Computer Teacher from the Black Lagoon

and of course

  • The Custodian from the Black Lagoon

No word yet on The Homeschooling Parents from the Black Lagoon.

(Search all the Black Lagoon books.)

Jared Lee's illustrations are as silly as the text, making it hard to maintain a mental image of a real life teacher one ten thousandth as menacing as the lethal Mrs. Green.

Needless to say, The Teacher from the Black Lagoon is one of those books that you don't know you need until after you need it, when you've already missed your chance to put an apprehensive child to sleep with a comforting reminder that as scary as school can seem, most people seem to survive it.

More monster books.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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