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Queens bus driver teaches kids courage through a duck tale

When he was growing up as a young boy in Italy, Mario Trimoglie had no toys, so he and his friends entertained themselves by creating games with their imaginations.

And even though he stopped attending school after the fifth-grade in order to help his family make ends meet when they moved to Queens, Trimoglie is now a published author who thinks his stories — the ones he writes and the ones he lives — can serve as inspiration to anyone who reads them.

Trimoglie’s first children’s book is entitled “The Story of Ocos: King of the Sky, Master of the Water.”

“It’s amazing,” said the 62-year-old author, who drives several Metropolitan Transportaion Authority bus routes, including the Q13, in and between northeast Queens neighborhoods. “Driving the bus is very stressful with traffic. Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to go two blocks!”

Sitting in his Auburndale home earlier this week, Trimoglie said that to relieve the stress in his life, he creates fictional worlds full of inspirational messages.

“The more stress, the more tension, the better the stories,” he said.

Ocos, said Trimoglie, comes from the Italian word “oca,” which means “duck.” In the illustrated children’s book, Ocos hatches from his shell and is enamored by the eagle he sees flying overhead. He admires and aspires to be like the eagle — even going so far as to mock the other ducklings around him. Ocos is shocked when he learns the eagle snatched up one of the ducks to eat, and with the help of a rooster and a fish he devises a plan to defeat the eagle against all odds. Ocos emerges, triumphant, with self-assurance and pride in himself as a duck.

Trimoglie said the story is one of courage and love.

“The messages are don’t be scared or be afraid of the unknown. Also, be careful of who your friends are. Your hero could be your worst enemy,” he said.

These are messages the author can certainly understand. He had to teach himself how to read and write in English. Trimoglie said when he decided to write a book, he went to the children’s section of his library and wrote down the name of every one of the book publishers. He would send submission letters, sometimes 30 at a time, and wait eagerly for a response.

He said he received more rejection letters than he cares to remember, but they would always come with encouraging words, telling him not to give up on his dream.

“My dream came true by not giving up. Patience is the key to everything. You have to wait, and wait, and wait and wait. That’s why my father wanted to move to this country. He would always say, ‘Even a pawn can become a king overnight,’” said Trimoglie.

Last month, he took a box of 40 books to the steps of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, and after an hour and a half the excited author had sold them all. He said he has sold books on the Internet to countries such as India, England and Australia.

His next book, “The River,” is set to come out in about a month, and he said he plans to donate 60 percent of the profits to the St. Jude’s Hospital for Children.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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