with Bruce Van Patter 2011-2012 School Visits

My visit to Spring Grove Elementary!

The Assembly Stories

The four ingredients: a guy named Friendly Freddy in a lion's cage looking for an alien with a sidekick of a giraffe

The story: our hero, a very kindly soul, is trying to find an alien who is hiding in the zoo. Freddy, with his trusty sidekick, a giraffe, is going from animal to animal, trying to figure out which one might be the transforming alien.

He's convinced it is the lion. But when he goes to give the lion a hug, he gets a shocking discovery -- the lion is actually a lion. And he's in no mood to hug.

You know, in general, people ought to listen more to their talking giraffe sidekicks.


The four ingredients: a scientist girl in an oven looking to blow up Mars with a silly sidekick of a monkey

The story: These cooking competition shows just keep trying to go for bigger and bigger stunts. Here, a girl is helping a monkey chef create the solar system in giant baked goods.

But the girl realizes that something is wrong with the Mars cupcake. She goes in to push the self-destruct button on it, but the monkey can't stand to see his creation destroyed.

Tough luck, Mr. French Monkeychef. That's the way the cupcake crumbles.

The workshop tales

This mysterious guy on the right was our doodle turned into a main character. We imagined he was a secret agent trying to find his lost pet in a whole town of haunted houses. As we brainstormed, the plot got harder and harder to follow, but it had to do with a long-lost brother who had the second part of a key that would unlock a house.

Oh, and let's not forget that there is a magical mastermind, The Fire Miner, who wants to catch the brothers before they take his power coal. And just for fun, I threw in that the pet had been transformed into an elephant!

So, it wasn't the most clear plot. But it had a lot of fun ingredients!


In this story, a teenage boy wants to be a superhero, but he's still figuring out how to use his superpower. Apparently, he can fly when he eats his granny's secret-recipe cookies. But she gets kidnapped by the cats on the family farm because they're tired of the boy flying around squirting them with bulbs of water.

His problem now is that he can't fly without the right cookie. His grandpa tries to help, but the cookies just aren't the same.

I tried to show that by having the kid flying in a crazy way, while eating a cookie. I think I enjoyed that almost as much as talking about my Nana Jean's super-hard cookies she actually called Rocks.


And finally, in this tale, we have a girl character who is a biologist, in search of a new species of squirrel. She wants so badly to impress a young man who is so brilliant, he's working in the local museum, even though he's only in his teens.

She heads off to a rocky canyon, as a part of a contest to find a new animal. But just when she finally gets her squirrel, she slips and falls into the swift stream!

It's a good thing that the museum guy has been following her. Or is it? He agrees to take the squirrel from her, but only because HE wants to win the contest! Not nice!

One last thing... do you see the odd dark coloring on the head of this rare squirrel. That, plus the odd pointy ears, is why it's called the Ninja Squirrel.

And to that group of boys in the back who kept bringing up ninjas -- I hope you appreciate that.

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


My thanks to everyone who made this great, creative day possible.

And thanks to the kids for all their fun ideas. You Spring Grove kids have great story ideas. Keep dreaming up new plots, interesting characters, and surprising settings. Make sure you share your ideas with others, for the more other people enjoy your work, the more you will too!

And while you're here, check out all the creative fun!

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

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