with Bruce Van Patter 2007-2008 School Visits

My visit to Hillside School

What a great school! So much creative energy flows from the minds of these kids. Just check out the stories we invented.

The assembly drawings

The four ingredients: a guy who hates bacon in a kitchen who wants a girlfriend and has a silly sidekick of a guy with a potato-shaped head!

The story: When Spud, the sidekick, eats the food that our hero wants to cook for a girl coming over for dinner, the silly guy goes and snags a pig for dinner.

Not only does the chef hate the idea, so does the girl. The pig is her pet!

The four ingredients: A girl worker in a basement who wants cheesy tots up with a silly sidekick of a centaur who shoots lightning

The story: I don't really have much of a story -- something having to do with a waitress wanting to get promoted and using a magic tater tot to control this centaur, getting him to cook the tots really fast.

Day One workshop stories

This story started with this great doodle of a know-it-all kid. He's afraid to go outside but he uses his phone to answer people's questions, referring to his giant book of answers.

His jealous brother sneaks the book and the phone, so our hero has to go on a quest inside the house! What a great idea: an indoor quest.

Here we have a football player that is also a detective. He's trying to figure out what kind of evil plot a football team is plotting.

It turns out that they're trying to hypnotise the nation with close-up shots of the spinning football. They're planning on getting everyone to love football. Here, our detective has been caught by the mascot: a giant football wizard.

Do you think this spell will make even my wife love football? Yes? Then maybe it's not such an evil plot after all.

I love this plot. A young man stands to inherit a fortune if he can sell every pet of a recently deceased rich pet owner. But he's only got a week. All that's left to sell is a rude parrot.

To complicate matters, he's trying to sell it to a girl that he likes!

This giant has a hat that is actually a house! He's got a queen captive in the house because she helps him to make decisions. Why does she help? Because he's got her crown in his pocket.

A jester comes and steals the crown and lures the giant into a dormant volcano! That way, the door is near ground level. That's one smart jester!

What's in this girl's backpack? I'm no sure, but it belongs to this wizard. She's been trying to track him down to return it to him before it works its magic on her.

Apparently, the wizard isn't happy about being followed by a stranger.

Day Two workshop stories

A wig gives a composer special powers to write music, but a pirate comes and steals his wig. Why? Because the pirates want more respectable music. They're tired of always singing, "Yo, ho, ho!"

This gave me a chance to tell my Beethoven's Grave joke, which could have been told better, but I'm out of practice.

I love this concept of a kid who brings inanimate objects to life. Here he's brought a giant toaster to life, but it's turned evil!

We all, at one point or another, have a toaster that turns evil on us -- burning things for no reason!

This elf lives in a hole in the ground and he has a seed that keeps his house always green and growing. He has to mow his carpet!

But one day, a snow squirrel steals his seed, not knowing its powers.

So the elf has to overcome his fear of the snow to set out and get the seed back. Here I've pictured the squirrel being attacked by growing vines that the seed has brought out of the earth.

A boy is always doing stuff he should get in trouble for, but he always finds a way to charm his way out of punishment. So when he makes a list of ways that he can sneak out of the house, his sister steals it.

His search for it leads him up to the attic, that he fears is haunted. But he falls through the floor onto his bed to find that she's put the list there. And his parents are just coming up the stairs.


What a great visit -- fast-paced and full of fun ideas. My thanks go out to everyone who made the two days work so well.

Remember, kids, you have wonderful story ideas in you right now. Use them. Don't lose them.

Keep being creative, and 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
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!

Hey, Hillside kids! I hope you had a ball during my visit. I know I did!
back to main page programs Fun stuff for families schools reviews bio
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