with Bruce Van Patter 2011-2012 School Visits

My visit to Clarion Elementary

I've never been to this charming town, but I'm so glad I have the chance to visit. This way, I can meet and enjoy the great students and teachers in the school! And talk about creative -- just look at what we came up with!

The assembly drawings

Check out these stories:

The four ingredients: a sleepwalker out in his neighborhood at night dreaming about a book that will lead him to a crystal ball up against a chubby thief.

The story: You know what our sleepwalker wants. The thief wants the boy's father's laptop, which has govern-ment secrets. But before he can grab it, the boy picks it up thinking it is the magical book. So the thief makes him walk out onto the roof, hoping that the kid will drop the laptop if he starts to fall.

Instead, the boy grabs the thief's head, thinking it's the crystal ball!

Hey... am I making fun of bald guys? I hope not. I AM one!


The four ingredients: a princess dog looking for a new dress in the forest up against a mean cat

The story: Our main character, Kate, is actually just a dog who wants to go to the forest ball, but doesn't have a gown. She hears about a magic apple high in a huge apple tree that can grant wishes. So she climbs the tree and puts on the apple. POOF! She has a new gown for the ball.

But the cat that guards the tree rushes out to stop her. He doesn't see her foot stretched out and he trips and starts to fall to the ground far below.

Good thing Kate is so kind. She wishes for the cat to be saved, even though it means she has to lose her fancy dress.

The workshop stories

It's unusual that a workshop makes the setting a time in history rather than just a place. We had both here. Leonardo DaVinci's studio is a great setting for a story.

The story is about a teenage boy who finds a small sculpture of a horse that belonged to Leonardo. It has magical powers to transport him through time back to the artist's studio.

So the boy decides to steal the Mona Lisa to show his girlfriend. But he hadn't planned on meeting one ferocious cat in the studio!

I had such a good time drawing this -- putting the paw through the painting, adding a mustache to the cat, and having Leonardo coming in the frame on the right.


Here's another drawing I had a good time with. This story has to do with a monkey who is thought by his monkey troop to have great karate skills. Actually, he is only making amazing moves because he's swatting flies.

Then one day, all the flies disappear. You might think that was a good thing, but for him, it's not. Now he can't do his great moves.

Off he goes into the bayou to find the flies. The thief turns out to be an alligator who wants to keep the monkey from bothering his evil plans. How will the monkey get past the alligator without flies to help the monkey's moves?

Laughter. The alligator thinks the monkey's weird moves are really funny. And that gives our hero just enough time to rescue the flies.


This story started off with an odd sketch. This teenage boy is riding a camel and wearing a strange hat, not to mention a sweatshirt in the desert. From this we came up with a story about this teen who is going off into the desert to find his lost parents.

It seems that they had gone off to find the ruins of an ancient city and had never come back. So our hero goes off on his trusty camel to find answers. His trusty camel, though, is easilly offended, and our hero has a short temper, so at a key time in the story, the camel goes off in a huff, leaving the boy to enter the ruined city by himself.

He finds his parents, who have amnesia from being stung by a giant scorpion. They don't recognize their son. Even worse, he doesn't recognize the danger he's in. Good thing the trusty camel has returned to take on the scorpion!


Normally, I would think that having stuff come out of one's hair would be gross, but in this story, this girl has a spell put on her, when she uses magic shampoo. She was given the shampoo by a little fairy.

The fairies seem to be her friend. She's happy about that because she doesn't have many friends. But when she travels to the cottage of the sorceress who created the magic shampoo, the fairies try to stop her. They know she wants to stop all the crazy things from coming out of her hair. And they need those things to defeat the sorceress!

I love the title of this. And I enjoyed making a vampire frog leap out of the hair. I don't usually do vampires in schools, but a vampire frog is just fun.


If my drawing to the left is confusing, that's because we had a very complicated story. It had to do with a lizard who wanted to find a mysterious island where his chubby British spider pet came from.

It seems his friend, a frog, went to get a British spider for his pet and never came back. So our hero set off to find the island and rescue his friend.

Here's what the 3rd grade kids wanted me to draw: the lizard using his tail like a helicopter to rescue the frog. Next to him would be a jungle shark who used a vine to swing around the island, snapping at anyone who came there. But his vine is snapping because of the extra weight caused by the chubby British spider who has landed on him.

Wow! That was one hard drawing!


In this first grade tale, we used a chinchilla as the main character. I had never drawn one in a story before! Then we pulled out of my Bag of Cool Stuff a little magnifying glass that we used to help rescue a pig who was in danger as his boat was about to go over a waterfall. The chinchilla used the magnifier to talk to a bee who stung the pig and made him leap to the shore where the chinchilla can catch him. I think the pig may be a little too big for her to catch! I hope he doesn't squash her!


And finally, here is a kindergarten story that has a tiger trying to rescue a baby monkey from a tree, using only a soft bag. The monkey didn't want to get in the bag, but the tiger tells the little guy that it is like a sleeping bag, and the monkey gets in. It's a sweet and simple story. I was happy that my drawing of the baby monkey turned out okay. When I drew him in the middle panel, a number of the girls said, "Awwwww." Then I knew I had made him cute enough.

Want to motivate young writers in your life?

This book can help!

I've collected 39 of my weekly emails to teachers on creative writing into one downloadable book. Kids Can Love to Write captures the essence of my approach to making writing fun for kids. Whether you have an enthused young writer or one that needs big motivation, this book will show you how to get the most out of their imaginative minds.

Find other creative writing helps at my store!


New on my site!

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


We had a wonderful time inventing stories! Clarion students have amazing imaginations! Now that you know the basic parts to a story, I hope you'll use my TALE to make your own fun tales. Remember, the more people you have enjoying your stories, the more you'll want to keep writing.

Keep being creative, and check out the fun stuff on my site!

back to main page
programs Fun stuff for families schools reviews bio store
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