with Bruce Van Patter 2011-2012 School Visits

My visit to Shiloh Hills Elementary

I drove up to the school in a dense fog, which seemed to make it a mysterious school. But there was no mystery about the imaginations of the kids! Just check out these stories.

The assembly drawings

The four ingredients: a chicken named Alex in a playground looking for spaghetti up against a lion

The story: This mix of ideas really got my imagination spinning!

I thought that Alex should go to the park because he thought of a way to get his spaghetti to stay on his fork. He would use the merry-go-round to spin the pasta right onto the fork.

But when he got there, he had to ask a lion to help him. It was too hard to hold the fork and spin the circle. The lion was very glad to help. It's too bad that he was a prankster who liked to laugh when he messed up things for others. He has made it spin so fast, it's turned into a tornado!

I've heard of spaghetti with tomato sauce, but not a tornado sauce!


The four ingredients: an elf named Robertonio in a house looking for his skateboard up against a guy in a sombrero with a mustache playing the maracas.

The story: We have to start with the idea that there is a land of musical elves. Most of them sing opera, like Robertonio, but there's one who is a rebel. He wants to be in a mariachi band. So he steals Robertonio's magical skateboard to zip into the human world. He can control the skateboard by his maracas, filled with magical beans.

But Robertonio tracks him down and breaks the power of the maracas by sawing almost through the tops of them. When the beans all spill out, Robertonio can sing back his skateboard.

The workshop stories

This story had to do with a boy who had a really cool job. He snuck into people's houses and jobs and left them nice surprises. He learned all his sneaky moves from his grandpa, who wrote a book about sneaking based on his years as a mail carrier.

But one day, his grandpa disappears. He's missing! Our hero starts out to sneak around to find him.

It turns out that the grandpa isn't being held captive, but is in a scary house where his other grandson wants to learn the sneaky moves. When our hero turns up, the two of them start a sneaking contest that turns dangerous when a surprise makes our hero break a supporting beam in the attic.

Will they all get out in one piece? I don't know. Seems that the end of our session just snuck up on us!


This spy girl started us on a brainstorming journey that led to a really cool idea. Imagine an apartmet building that was really a zoo. Each apartment would have a different animal in it.

That zoo is being run by an evil troll who is using all the animals courage and toughness to keep himself going. Somehow he can absorb all that into himself.

Our detective girl is led to the creepy apartment zoo by her pet chihuahua, and by a mysterious fellow detective who keeps texting her clues. In the end, I thought the dog could trick the troll into taking the cell phone while the girl and the dog rescue the animals.


I love drawing pigs. It's probably the animal I've drawn more than any other over my career. but I've never had to draw a pig from the distant past before.

Our story started with this sketch of a pig who looks like he's afraid to knock on a door. We imagined that he was a salespig, who took around a suitcase that was really a time machine. It could send people back to the time when pigs didn't have to act like people. They could just relax and take mud baths.

But his problem was that one day, someone stole his machine! Who did it? Pigs from the past who came to take away the suitcase so that annoying pigs from today wouldn't come back and bother them any more.

We're not sure how this will end up, but I had a good time drawing the pig from the past trying to fly off back in time with our hero holding him back.


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New on my site!

I love random connections! Here's a page that will create random What If Questions to help you start stories!



Drawing on stage is fun for me. Even though I'm never sure what I'll have to draw until right before, I love to see ideas take shape before my eyes.

You Shiloh Hills students may not have a huge audience for your ideas, but you have stories worth sharing. It takes courage sometimes to show your drawings and writing to others, but it's worth it. You can have the good feeling of watching someone else enjoy your creativity.

Keep putting your ideas on paper. You have great stories.

While you're here, check out some of the fun stuff I have 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!
Strange news is happening! Let my Headline Maker give you a really weird headline. Then write a story!

click on the images to go to the writing activities