with Bruce Van Patter 2010-2011 School Visits

My visit to Aronimink Elementary!

How great it was to be back to my home turf! As I explained to the kids, I grew up in Springfield and lived for a while after I got married on State Road. So it was a real pleasure to work with kids who share my roots. What creative, enthusiastic students are at Aronimink! Check out these stories we invented.

The assembly stories

The four ingredients: a pig named Needy in a desert who wants a dragon up against a shark

The story: this was a bit of a tricky mix of ideas. Actually, the student who gave me the setting first said, "Inside a turkey!" I said I couldn't do that, but I decided to make the turkey a hot air balloon that our pig flew in a parade. He uses a little dragon to provide the hot air. They had a great time at the parade.

But then, instead of taking the dragon home, Needy needed to show off his balloon to others, so he goes back on his word to the dragon. Off they go across the country. Finally, in the desert, the dragon has had enough. He refuses to help any more and gets out of the balloon.

Needy is trying to talk him back into the balloon. What they don't realize is that they're sitting on the back of a sand shark!


The four ingredients: a guy named Crazy Steve who is an alchemist in a forest who wants a polka-dotted crab up against an alien

The story: First let me say that this may be one of my all time favorites. In fact, I'm going to add it to my page of Favorite Drawings. I only add a couple each year, so this one is special.

The story is about how Steve is called crazy because he brags that he can turn things into gold (that's what alchemy is). His friends don't believe him. Whenever he shows them golden things he's made, they say he just bough them.

So he decides to head into the forest to find and transform into gold the rumored giant crab. What he doesn't know is that it is actually an alien creature. In the background you can see the poor alien child who will pose quite a problem for Steve if he succeeds!


Workshop fun!

Check out these stories which all came from our 45-minute workshops:

In this tale we have a paperboy who invents things. But he has a great weakness: he's very afraid of things. So he invents a paper-chucker for his bike so that he won't have to go close to the houses on his route.

But his boss gets complaints about where the papers end up. He forbids our hero to use the chucker, but instead to deliver each paper personally.

This causes the boy great distress. But he decideds to tackle his fears head-on. He makes a list of all the places he's most fearful of. He sets out to check off each one.

I've drawn one of the ideas the students came up with. Here, he has approached a door at a scary house. The door opens unexpectedly and a hand reaches out and grabs the paper -- not the newspaper, but his list!

Here we have a girl who finds a magic butterfly that takes her back in time to a forest. There she meets a young man who lives in the woods. She doesn't trust him, because she doesn't trust anyone. But he seems kindly. He helps her and makes her feels at home.

After a little while, she decides she needs to find the butterfly to go home. The boy offers to help.

But she's suspicious. So she finds a similar butterfly and tells him it's the magic one. And sure enough -- he was only helping her so that HE could get out of the forest and back to his own time! Good thing she has the real butterfly!

And in what may be the funniest story of the day, we have this strange old man who has a talking beard! (Oh how glad I am that my beard isn't chatty. That would drive me nuts!)

He's an elf, sent by the elves to live with the humans to try to find a mythical creature that has escaped from their kingdom. It's a deadly Fire Frog, bent on destroying the human village.

Not only can our elf's whiskers speak, but he can do great feats of bravery with it. It's an action beard!

I loved drawing this for the kids. The last thing I revealed was the beard wrapped around the stone. I loved how the kids suggested that the beard should be saying something, and they told me what to have it say!

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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!

My thanks for this picture go out to the girl who acted as my photographer in the one workshop and took this nice shot of me drawing. And my thanks also go to everyone involved today -- from those who put the day together to the kids who had such wonderful ideas.

No surprise to me -- Aronimink kids are amazingly creative! Let this be just the beginning of a year of great stories. Remember, the more you have other people enjoy your ideas, the more you'll enjoy them, too!

Keep up the good work!

And while you're here, 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!
Strange news is happening! Let my Headline Maker give you a really weird headline. Then write a story!

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