with Bruce Van Patter 2008-2009 School Visits

My visit to Highland Park Elementary!

The Assembly Stories

The four ingredients: a superhero guy in a forest of dolphins who wants ? with a silly sidekick of a turtle.

The story: I do apologize -- I can't remember what the superhero guy wanted in this story. But I do remember there is this evil fish guy who is creating an army of dolphins with his control-ray power. And our hero is a fisherman who sits by the side of the sea and has been noticing something "fishy" going on. He quickly dives in to stop Fish Guy. But his turtle sidekick has to save him by bouncing back the ray to the spiky evil creature!


The four ingredients: a zebra in Oklahoma who wants to bowl up against an iquana.

The story: Our main character in this story is a zebra who is so good at bowling, nobody will play with him any more. So he goes on the road, searching for bigger bowling challenges.

Out on the prairie, he asks an iquana cowboy to collect his cows for a photo. But when the cattle are all roped up, guess what? The zebra wants to bowl them over!

I was bowled over by these funny ingredients!

And I think it's strange how I ended up with two spiky creatures in two drawings!

The workshop tales

There were so many great ideas in this story. We imagined, starting with this doodle on the right, a land where all the people had wings. Their arch-enemies were the firelings, flame-like creatures who lived in the clouds. One day, the girl takes a boy up to the firelings kingdom to show him their treasure. She had taken their key on a previous visit. She wants to impress him.

But she's wrong to think that he is going because he likes her. He just wants the treasure. And when the firelings come swooping in on their hawks, he leaves her to deal with them by herself! That's so mean!


In this story, we have guy who finds a strange bottle while walking along railroad tracks. In the bottle is an alien who cuts a deal with the guy: let me stay and I'll get the girl to like you.

At first it works out great, but after a while, the alien becomes a real troublemaker. So the boy thinks about getting rid of the alien.

But he has a tough choice to make. Is he also willing to give up on the girl liking him? Or will he find a way to get her to like him without the alien's help?


What a great name we invented for this character: Sir Duckington. He's a duck in disguise as a librarian. It seems that one day he opened up a book left behind on a park bench and found it magically helped him to read. Since then, he's been a librarian, guarding the book from the alligators, who are trying to eat the ducks.

One day an alligator sneaks into the library in disguise. He finds his way into the basement, where the old books are. He's trying to find the duck's magic book. But just as he does, Sir Duckington rushes in and switches the book.

See what the new book is? Ducks are Poisonous!

What a great day!

I loved being back in the area where I grew up. Being a Springfield grad, and having lived on State Road in Drexel Hill as an adult, I was so happy to be able to work with kids in Upper Darby. And what a wonderful school this is. It's filled with polite, energetic, creative kids.

And my time in the evening, doing my presentation on How to Invent Stories with Your Kids, I found that the parents are pretty special, too.

Okay, Highland Park kids, remember that you have great stories just waiting to come out!

And while you're here, feel free to roam around. Just click on the fun stuff button below to find interesting pages.

In addition to all the free material on this site, I have downloadable books that are perfect for keeping kids writing in school or at home!

(click on books to see)

The Adventures of Pirate Dog
Picture prompts are a great way to inspire kids to write! Here are 26 of my best drawings with fun, pre-writing worksheets

Write Your Own
Cartoons!
Kids can add the
dialogue and their special touches to my funny comic strips filled with wacky characters!

Sparks: Year One
Here’s a fantastic resource for teachers: a whole year of weekly creative writing lessons built around wacky holidays!

More to come!

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Pick the ingredients to stories and click through to see how I've started them. Then you finish the story!

Make a character out of some funny people I've drawn for you!
Over a hundred million wacky headlines wait for you to use them to make your own story!

click on the images to go to the writing activities