with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My visit to Salem Drive School!

From the moment the principal met me at the door before school to the help I had at the end of the day from the custodian, I was given VIP treatment. (Usually that's Very Important Person... maybe for me it should be Van Important Patter!).

What a great school! So much fun. And check out this cake they made to celebrate my visit. Sorry kids, this was hidden away for the teachers and me.

As far as I'm concerned, the whole day was SWEET!

Check out these assembly stories:

The four ingredients: a tiger at the Eiffel Tower looking for a key to get in up against a dog.

The story: This tiger had taken a field trip to the Eiffel Tower and left his backpack high up in it. He's trying to get the key to get in and retrieve his backpack. So he gets his trusty hot air balloon to track down the guard dog who has the key. (It does make one wonder why the tiger just doesn't grab the backpack, but hey, I'm just making this up on the fly!)

The dog, who looks like a French waiter, serves up something quite surprising: a dart to puncture the tiger's balloon!

Bad dog!


The four ingredients: a guy with chocolate powers in the desert, looking for an apple and up against someone with the power to turn people into bananas.

The story: Okay, that's some of the strangest ingredients I've ever had. I did change the bad guy a bit, making it pods instead of bananas.

This chef is searching for the fabled giant cactus-apple tree, so that he can chocolate-coat something new for a client. But everyone who goes to find it never returns, including Rachel Ray. That's because they all get trapped in giant pods by a magical armadillo. But our chef will use his chocolate power to make an apple so heavy it will fall on the armadillo!

So how crazy is this -- I get to the special luncheon and look what someone had brought in: chocolate-covered fruit! There were chocolate-covered APPLES!

Just like in the story! What are the chances?

Workshop stories!

A baby has an interesting new baby-sitter. She's magical! And she's been giving the little girl a magic formula which makes her really smart. Maybe too smart! The babysitter wanted the baby to help her rule over the town, but the baby is wise to her plans.

So the babysitter is trying to take away the formula from the baby. I don't think it's going to be so easy!


This story brought back one of my childhood fears. When I was a child, my bedroom had a secret passageway. I always worried what might come out through the little door that led into it.

We thought of a bored rich boy who likes to eavesdrop on people. As he's passing a strange, never-opened door in his mansion, he hears a voice beind the door. When he opens the door, someone pulls him into another world, from which he has a hard time escaping!

Whoa, kids. Thanks a lot for bringing back my nightmares!


This sketch on the right started out as something completely different, but as it developed, it turned into a gnome. So we worked with that idea. We thought that gnomes would be immortal, but only if they could find someone to like them. If not, they'd turn into garden gnomes!

This guy couldn't get the girl to like him, so right before his time was up, he gave her his prized pocket rock. Aww. Such a sweet little guy. Maybe now she'll change her mind about him.

We had a fantastic time making stories. Let's not let the creative fun stop now, Salem Drive kids. You have great ideas! Keep putting them down on paper and sharing them with others.

And if you don't, I'll send a giant armadillo over to turn you all into pods!

Don't forget to check out the fun stuff on my site!

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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 make them into a story!

click on the images to go to the writing activities