with Bruce Van Patter 2007-2008 School Visits

My visit to East Coventry!

Here's a school that knows how to imagine! We had a fast-paced, action-packed day with lots of ideas flying around. Take a look at the stories we invented.

The assembly drawings

I usually draw horizontally for assemblies, but when I saw the interesting board on which I was to work, I thought I'd give myself a fresh challenge and draw vertically. I was up for an up-and-down challenge!

The four ingredients: a pirate in a dirty castle looking for The Book of Death up against a cow.

The story: Okay, the part that threw me was the Book of Death. That's not exactly elementary school material, but I did find a way to work it into the story.

A pirate chef wants to please his picky captain with some hearty beef meals. But he has looked far and wide for a cookbook. When he hears that there might be one in a spooky castle, he goes in search of it. Danger? Ha! He's not worried; too much is at steak.

He hadn't figured on the cow that lived there, though. To the cow, a beef cookbook is indeed a Book of Death!

he four ingredients: a horse in a castle looking for gold up against a wolf

The story: A horse is traveling through the countryside and stops at a castle to ask if he could spend the night. The wolf who owns the castle is suspicious, but lets the horse stay.

The wolf, it seems, has gold he worries about all the time. He thinks someone will try to steal it. In the night, he tries to sneak the gold up to the castle tower. The horse hears him and wonders what's going on, so he follows him.

When the horse shows up, it startles the wolf, who falls over the wall but catches himself. Now the horse wants to help him by making the wolf let go of the gold, but the wolf doesn't trust him.

The workshop stories

Here's a fox who is hungry for a chicken meal. He hears about a race in the meadow in the heart of the woods: the Race for the Golden Chicken! A bear chases all the runners around and the first one across the meadow wins the Golden Chicken.

Yum! He thinks it's golden, fried chicken. Little does he know it is actually a golden trophy! How will he eat that? If he wins the race, he might feel like he lost out on a good meal!


This is a furry elephant. He isn't treated nice by the other elephants at school, so he finds a rock he thinks is magic, wishing it would take away his fur and give him friends.

But a bully takes the rock and won't give it back. Though this is upsetting, our furry fellow is about to find out that other elephants have been treated meanly by this bully. And they will learn that having that in common will make them friends.


We started with this great sketch of a big ogre looking intently at something in his hand. We had fun imagining what he might be looking at.

We decided the troll was looking for his family. He heard about a contest in a nearby town where the townspeople challenged each other to cross a mysterious lake and find and destroy the trolls. Our hero is going to see if he can beat them across and save his family, who live on the other side. He has one human friend, though. A girl doesn't want him to go. She's afraid he'll be caught, too. In fact, you can see one of the hunters pointing to the troll even as she begs him not to go!


With first grade, I got adventurous. After we came up with this turtle doodle, I had a volunteer go over to the library book shelves and randomly pull out a book. We then put the subject of that book into our story.

My volunteer student pulled out a book about rocket ships. So we had the turtle head off into space. But when the ship came down, it crashed in the desert. When he climbed out of his ship, he met a turtle princess! That's a nice surprise.

But the princess expected a present. You know how demanding royalty can be. The only thing he had brought with him were pumpkins, but they couldn't eat them raw. So, being a clever turtle, he soon figured out how to have a pumpkin roast for her highness.

I sure did a lot of drawing today. It was fun for me, because the stories you East Coventry kids invented were such good ones.

I hope you all had a good time. But even more importantly, I hope you are excited about making up stories on your own. You have great ideas! Put them down on paper and share them with others.

Don't forget to check out the fun stuff on my site!

In addition to all the free material on this site, I have downloadable books that are perfect for keeping kids writing in school or at home!

(click on books to see)

The Adventures of Pirate Dog
Picture prompts are a great way to inspire kids to write! Here are 26 of my best drawings with fun, pre-writing worksheets

Write Your Own
Cartoons!
Kids can add the
dialogue and their special touches to my funny comic strips filled with wacky characters!

Sparks: Year One
Here’s a fantastic resource for teachers: a whole year of weekly creative writing lessons built around wacky holidays!

More to come!

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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!
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