with Bruce Van Patter 2010-2011 School Visits

My visit to Woodside School!

The assembly stories

The four ingredients: an elephant on a beach looking for a magic coconut up against a mouse

The story: our hero the elephant wants to go the beach for vacation. When he gets there, he finds a coconut that has magical powers. It can give you any food you want.

There's one problem. There's a mouse that thinks that the coconut belongs to him! He doesn't want anyone else using the power. So he gets a surfboard and plans to surf to another island.

But just when he thinks a wave is picking him up, it turns out to be the trunk of the elephant!


The four ingredients: a hooded young man on top of a cave looking for a misshapen donut from another dimension up against an alien

The story: our hero is a scribe for the king. All day long he writes official papers for his highness. But our young man wants to be an artist. The king says he will permit it if the boy can show him how the art can be useful.

One day, when roaming the hills, looking for something to draw, the artist comes across a strange floating object. It looks like a huge, strange donut. (This was after donuts were invented, of course.) Only as he starts to draw it does he find out that it is actually an alien creature being raised by another alient, hiding in a cave.

What I liked best about this story was when I drew the stalk eyes on the cave alien, a boy called out, "Its a snalien!" What a great name! I had to use it!

The workshop stories

In this story, we had a girl dog who loves to do crazy stunts. She's really good at sliding, leaping, diving and all kinds of actions. She needs those skills because she is constantly following a meat truck driven by a caterer. Then she quicklyl steals the food before the caterer knows where it went.

One day, the truck disappears into the mists of a Saturday morning. She goes on a quest to find it.

When she finally does track it down in a misty field where there's a wedding reception being planned, she starts to take the food when she runs right into the caterer AND the mean dog he's hired to help him catch the food thief.

I don't think I quite captured the idea I had of a sea of mist with the turkey rising above it and the dogs below. It turns out that mist is hard to draw. Or should I say hard not to draw?


Here we have a superhero boy who has found his one power: he can understand the language of animals. He wants to go use it, but his mom wants him to continue in Superpower school until he understands it better. They're always arguing over it.

Even worse, the boy's brother is actually a master criminal. One day, when his brother is in a park stealing all the toys from children, our hero decides to try to stop him.

He uses his ability to speak to dogs to help him surround his brother. I decided to draw dogs instead of squirrels. For some reason, squirrels have been hard for me to draw lately.


This girl on the right helped us think up a fabulous story about a girl who is following her grandmother's journal to find a secret, hidden treasure along a rocky shore. The girl's teacher is tracking the girl. It turns out that both of them have a dark secret.

The girl's secret is that at a beach party, some animal was injured and she let someone else take the blame for it.

The teacher's secret is that she's actually the girl's grandmother. The old lady is trying to stop her granddaughter from finding the treasure chest -- which holds the page torn out of the woman's childhood journal. On that page is a similar wrong that she did when she was a girl.

This was a wonderfully complext story!


Here's another superhero story. This time we have a boy who keeps having sidekicks quit on him because he's careless and the sidekicks keep getting hurt. His favorite one was a dog. He keeps the dog's slimy chew toy, a ball, with him in case he gets a chance to win him back.

The boy meets every Saturday with a club of superheroes, using a key to take him to another dimension, high in a skyscraper above the clouds.

But in this scene, it turns out that Boltman, one of the heroes, means to get all the power from their keys. Helping him is Champ, the boy's favorite sidekick! The boy throws the slimy ball to short-circuit Boltman, but the dog gets in the way. Who will win this showdown?

Finally, this story gives me the shivers.

It's about a girl who has a secret compartment in her bedroom, with a door that slides up. (We got that idea from the pose of our doodle.) She realizes that it can take her to another world, one that is filled with wondrous creatures.

She loves being the center of attention, being the trend-setter.

But when she starts coming into school with photos of these creatures, her friends don't believe her. They think she just created the images in Photoshop. So she brings one back, not knowing that by leaving open the door, another creature is following her into her bedroom!

Here's why this is extra-creepy for me. I've drawn my childhood bedroom, and the door I've shown is in the exact place that I had a door that led into a secret passageway that went behind the bookcase. My greatest fear as a kid was that something would come slinking out of that darkness! My door opened normally; it didn't slide up and down. But this is still hard to look at without getting the willies!


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


Let me share with you two drawings that kids made because of our creative time together. This one above was drawn by a first grade girl. I really enjoy how she made her animal personified just like I do with my animal characters. This elephant (or elephant/pig) seems very friendly.

And below is a creation of a fifth-grade boy. What a great combination: a moose genie! Now I hope he'll write a story about it.

Just for fun, here's a drawing I made of a mythical American animal called a Shagamaw. Lumberjacks invented this animal to explain what happened to shirts that disappear from laundry lines.

Well, that was a lot of fun.

I hope you Woodside students had a good time, too. It is a blast to invent stories, isn't it? Your stories are worth getting out of your head and onto paper. It may take some work, but the goal is worth all that effort.

Remember, kids: use your creativity. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Don't forget how much fun it is to get your own ideas out and onto paper!

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