with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My return to Bucher!

It's always fun to come back to a school, especially one that is so full of imaginative ideas. We had only one assembly today -- for the older students -- but the rest of the day was filled with workshops. Here are the stories we invented.

The assembly story

The four ingredients: a girl pirate with a flaming knife on a beach looking for treasure with a silly sidekick of a fish with a clown nose and a goatee!

The story: wow, what a combo! I came up with a story about a girl pirate who inherits a fish who says he knows where buried treasure is. But when they get to the beach, the treasure is under burning coals, which belong to a dragon. He gets his flaming breath from them.

I replaced the flaming knife with a flaming shovel. Artistic license, you see.

The workshop stories

This doodle was intended to be a pilot with a scarf, but we brainstormed it into an antarctic explorer with a fish! Now, that's creative!

Our story had to do with a contest to find a magic fish. The girl in the drawing wants to find it because the fish has something to do with her parents' disappearance. But the man in the background wants the fish because of its magical powers.

I tried to show the magic nature of the fish by the stars on its side. Can you see them?


In this tale, a servant at a castle has a magical dog he wants to present to the king. But the young man doesn't know that the king is allergic to dogs! Before the dog can do anything the sneezing king banishes the pup to the garbage heap. Our hero goes to find him to try it one more time.

Here, I've pictured the second try. They're trying to magically get rid of the allergy before the guards seize them.

Can you believe all that came from the doodle above? We're talking CREATIVE kids!


Here's another story about a dog. Only this story throws in a scary house in the woods, a bully and a grandfather's notebook.

This drawing is actually my second try; the first one just didn't match my standards. But the positive thing about waiting until after school to do it again is that I had a picture of a German Shepherd to look at, thanks to a helpful mom who found one for me!

Another thing I could do because I was working after school was to do a different kind of lettering. These outlined letters take too much time to do in front of an audience. But I like to have different styles of lettering on my drawings. It's one of those details many people miss, but I'm glad I do, even if nobody notices. It helps to give more of the feeling of the story.


I will admit this: it's not easy for me to draw a girl dancing. Having grown up drawing muscular superheroes, it can be a challenge to do more delicate, pretty characters. But this one turned out fine, I think.

This story had to do with a girl trying to impress animals in the woods with her ability to dance various styles of animal dances. I could only think of the Fox Trot as a dance named after an animal. Can you think of another? The Bunny Hop, maybe?


This is a rare science fiction story. Here, a robot comes back in time to try to capture an alien who is loose in the city. It's not easy to catch him: the alien is a shape-shifter!

The robot does have one help, though. He can hear the slight click of the mechanism that the alien uses to change shapes.

You'd think this would be easy: our robot would just wait until he hears the click, then nab the alien in his new shape. But the alien is outsmarting him. He's attached the clicking device to an old woman.

That's bad news for our hero, unless he's a quick thinker like the kids in this workshop!


I love the strange gesture of this girl in the doodle. She's got her hands out, pressed together, sideways. We thought long and hard about why she was doing that and came up with a story about a magic coin that helps her take her tests.

The problem in the story comes from a boy who figures out her secret and steals the coin. In their tussle over it, they drop the coin and it rolls right up to the teacher! Here, I show him holding it out. Notice the girl is about to make that interesting gesture in the doodle!

Yes, today was fun. How could we not have fun when we're making up stories?

You can keep this fun going, Bucher kids. Don't worry if your first try doesn't go the way you want. In this picture, I didn't get the drawing right. I had to re-do it after school. (Can you tell which drawing above is the re-make?)

Being creative isn't about making things perfect on your first attempt. It's about trying new things, even if sometimes those new things don't work out. Being creative is fun because we don't know how things will turn out. It's an adventure!

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!

back to main page programs Fun stuff for families schools reviews bio
Choose ingredients to a story and click to see how I put them together. Then you finish the story!

Make a character out of some funny people I've drawn for you!
Over a hundred million strange headlines wait for you to use them to make your own story!

click on the images to go to the writing activities