with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My visit to Hamilton School!

It's such a treat to be in a school for a day and a half. Coming back the next morning and having kids greet me before school is grat fun. As was so many things about Hamilton. It comes as no surprise, then, that the stories we made up also had a playfulness about them. Here they are:

The Assembly Stories

The four ingredients: a bird in a park looking for ice cream up against a flying fish.

The story: In a park there lived a bird. Every day he watched as an ice cream man tossed an ice cream cone to the fish in the pond. The bird was jealous. He wanted to taste ice cream. So one day, he swooped down and grabbed it. Little did he know that one of the fish -- this is where the story gets really strange -- was an inventor and had a "fishicopter" he could use to chase after the bird!

I loved drawing the fishicopter!


The four ingredients: a genius kid in a future city being destroyed by robots looking for a potion and has a sidekick of a ninja horse.

The story: A kid invents robots which, naturally, go crazy and start destroying the town. Fortunately, our hero had "anti-robot fuel" he could use to stop them. But his ninja-trained horse pal is too quick to jump into action and looks like he's going to ruin the bottle of fuel. Then what? I don't know!

The workshop tales
I've shown the finished illustrations and the kid-doodles that got us started.

This story has a polar bear who isn't into adventures. He likes to stay in his igloo, keeping cool, knitting sweaters, and eating his frozen fish as his servant penguin takes care of him.

But he has to go on a quest to find his lost grandmother. When he ends up in the icy water, his penguin saves the day by tossing him frozen fish for him to climb out. Chalk one up for trusty penguin side-kicks!


Here's another quest: a girl who hides cookies under her bed goes off to get some milk to go with them. She didn't realize how hard that would be. We imagined many problems she might run into.

In the end, she just goes to the source. But the only way she could get a cow to come with her was to give her one of her prized cookies.


Here are two pets who are trying to cause each other trouble. This dog is really good at sneaking into other people's houses and taking things. But so is this cat.

Here they are, each one trying to steal the other's plaything!


It may look like the doodle here on the right is sideways, but the kids imagined that this dog is falling. That started our story about an inventor dog who goes to a lost Mayan city, to find out what his mysterious key opens.

It turns out that the key opens up a chamber full of treasure, but also with a giant snake that guards the treasure. The dog falls right on the serpent! But the poor serpent has been lonely and instead of eating the dog, it sees a chance to have someone to talk to and play with.

Aw, nice snake!

Workshops from DAY TWO

This story had a great setting: the closet. A mouse lives in a closet. To him, it seems like the whole world. Everything is just right in his closet, until the day the alien monster showed up.

He knew it must be an alien monster because when it was put up on the top shelf, the eyes of it glowed in the dark. Ready to save his "world" from the monster, he sets out to climb to the very top shelf and get rid of the beast.

It may take more than a poke with an umbrella to get this "monster" doll to go away.


When a wizard and explorer bad guy captures a monkey, he trains him to use magical triangles to create holes to other parts of the world. The monkey doesn't know it, but he's about to help do something bad!

When he creates the triangle hole, the bad guy reaches through to capture more animals from the rain forest. What can our monkey do? Use another triangle to make the evil wizard disappear!


Like the falling dog doodle above, this quick drawing made the kids think of a guy who's trying to fly. So we imagined him being raised by birds. He wants to be a bird so much, he has climbed up to this nest to get a magical egg.

This egg is supposed to transform him into a bird, but our hero isn't watching very closely to the air. Look out! Look up! Trouble is about to land on you!


Finally, for the story that has my favorite title. This tale is about a man who was once a bunny who has now become a magician. If he puts his hat on, he'll turn back into a bunny.

The problem is, and there always has to be a problem in a story, that the bunnies don't want him to be changed back! They're going to do whatever they can to stop that hat from going on his head!

Wow, those were wonderful stories!

Thanks to everyone who helped to make this two-day visit such a success. So many people helped.

And thanks to you Hamilton kids. Your imaginations are powerful, amazing things. Use them! And just like Lauren did with this illustation of a girl fighting robots, keep putting your ideas on paper and remember to share them with someone!

Share them with your parents, your grandparents, your teachers and your friends. The more others enjoy your work, the more you'll want write and draw.

Keep being creative!

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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!
Over a hundred million wacky headlines wait for you to use them to make your own story!

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