with Bruce Van Patter 2009-2010 School Visits

My visit to Ironia Elementary!

Check out these stories we invented in the assemblies:

The four ingredients: a genie on a baseball field looking for a bunch of bananas with a silly sidekick of an opera-singing rooster!

The story: I do occasionally get stumped with the combinations that are given me. This one nearly did. But in the end, I decided that the genie is trying to get the magic bananas back that will set him free. He's tracked them down to the minor league team, the Boondock Bananas. He's been hiding in the glove of the "closer" who has been using the bananas as his lucky mitt.

The genie's sidekick, the rooster, was supposed to create a diversion. Instead, he sees his big chance at the big time. And where did the monkey come from? That's the Boondock's mascot!

No he's saved the fish's life in return!

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The four ingredients: a mountain lion in a boat looking for his fishing rod up against a cobra

The story: a mountain lion has tried to catch a huge fish in the stream near his home in the hills. One day, he finally decides to make one last cast with the most delicious fishing lure he could make. One more cast and he'll have that fish at last!

But the fish has one friend in the mountains, a cobra who lives in the rocks near the stream. They've been friends ever since the fish saved the snake from drowning. So when the snake sees the lure about to hit the water, he chomps down on the line, pulling the rod right out of the fisher-lion's hands!

Workshop stories

This adventurer in the doodle on the right is actually a nerdy high school student during the week, but on the weekend, he climbs a rope in his yard and is transported to an actual rainforest! There he becomes an adventurer. Nobody at school knows, but one person suspects something. She's a girl he likes.

So when she follows the rope and gets lost in the rainforest, the nerdy explorer has to find her. But there's one more person who enters the scene -- the girl's ex-boyfriend who wants to leave the girl in danger in the rainforest.

Our hero in this scene had meant to trap the bad guy in one of his sure-fire animal traps, but it looks like he got caught in his own trap! I don't think this is what the girl meant when she asked him if he wanted to hang out sometime.


There was a great turning point in this workshop when our fairly serious story took a sudden turn toward silly. It had been about a pirate girl who is trying to save her parents from a mysterious island.

But then someone suggested that the parents were actually on a vacation! Then we thought it would be funny for her to be trying to save them when they were actually just relaxing at a spa. As we brainstormed situations that would be normal vacation activities that the pirate girl would get all wrong, one student thought of mud baths that would look like the parents were sinking in quicksand!

I love when stories take surprising turns!


This story started with an extra, strange shape on the front of this doodle-boy's head on the right. We brainstormed that it was actually a sci-fi helmet being tried out by a teenage boy. The helmet is one of many inventions made by his little brother who makes him try them out.

Then one Saturday, at a carnival, our hero decided to try out his own invention: a STOP BUTTON. It makes any of his brother's inventions stop working if they get out of control.

But both the transforming helmet AND the stop button fall into the hands of a curious squirrel who becomes a menacing monster. Our teen hero has to find a way to get the squirrel to push the button to cancel the power of the helmet.

Do you think reverse psychology works in giant squirrel monsters?


This turtle over on the right looks like he should be saying, "You talkin' to ME?" We decided he lives in the swamp with his group of turtles and is really grumpy and loud. But that's good because he can scare off any predators.

Well, except for one. A fox comes who isn't at all scared at the loud turtle.

The fox takes our hero's girlfriend. What's our turtle hero to do? It's time for him to come out of his shell! He removes it and uses it as an amplifier to scare away the sneaky thief.

Only later did I realize I should have left holes in the shell for the arms and legs of the turtle! Oops!


I love this idea of the bee police. They've been trying to catch a sneaky bear for years. He's our main character and he's a cook who wanders the forest taking honey and other ingredients from other creatures. Always, he's able to get in and out with his goods without anyone catching him.

But that's because he always works alone. When he finds a young cub with no family, he takes the cub along, but he wants him to stay out of his business!

That's not so easy for the little bear to do. When our hero goes on a honey raid at the very cave of the bee police, the little guy messes everything up. He ends up getting captured by the bees. Now our thief bear has to rescue him.

How? By making a bear-shaped cake and smearing it with honey. He hopes in the time it takes the bees to check it out, he can be in and out with his young friend.

I'm not sure the plan is working. Do you?

Ironia kids -- just look at the stories you were able to come up with! They're fabulous. Now, keep up the good work. You have stories in you just waiting to get down on paper.

And remember, when you do, make sure you show them to someone. Those tales are much too wonderful to keep to yourself!

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

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