with Bruce Van Patter 2008-2009 School Visits

My visit to Mendham Township Elementary!

Would you like to see some crazy stories kids at this great school invented? Read on!

The assembly drawings

The four ingredients: a lion in the desert looking for a friend up against a lobster

The story: Our hero lion is trying to befriend one of the last known wild lizards in a desert. He hopes to save it from becoming extinct. But he should have done a little research about WHY the lizards are disappearing! There's a rock lobster that lives in the desert that loves to feed on the little lizards.

Looks like he might be feeding on a lion, too, if our hero isn't careful!


The four ingredients: a boy spy in Cheese World looking for a knick-knack up against an evil scientist

The story: In a town, a boy notices that strange lights are on in an abandoned factory. And a strange smell of cooking cheese wafts across the neighborhood. So he goes to spy out what's going on, hoping to bring back something to prove to others there's trouble.

He wears a disguise: a cheese hat. But no sooner does he get inside before he's discovered by the evil scientist, who is creating a breed of cheese dogs who will soon take over the town. The boy just manages to grab a pack of cheese crackers on his way out.

This story reminds me of a phrase we used when I was a boy whenever there was trouble to run from: Cheese it!

The Workshop Stories

This doodle of a gorilla is not sideways. He's actually looking up. We decided in this workshop that he was a gorilla who was afraid of heights and had a power to bring shooting stars down into his forest.

One day he was babysitting his young cousin. Being a very young gorilla, the cousin frequently went off to explore. When he saw a high nest in a tree, he started to climb up to investigate.

But an evil flying pig lives here, and he sees the cousin as a way to get what he's always wanted: the space rock the gorilla keeps in his nest. Our gorilla hero has to face his fear of heights to try to rescue his little cousin.


In this tale, we have a mouse who is a famous author of spy novels -- well, famous among his mouse readers. He's actually won the Golden Whiskers Award for best mystery.

But he also has a sidekick who gets in trouble. The mouse likes to go snooping around to find out details for his books. His little sidekick wants to help by watching the big evil rat that lives in the same old city house. The mouse forbids him, because the rat is dangerous.

But the little guy doesn't listen, so now the mouse has to rescue him. And this is the tough part: the writer mouse has to lure the rat out with his shiny award. That is one true friend of a mouse!


I met with first grade in the library, and I had two students pull books off the shelf (with their eyes closed) to give us our main character and something the hero likes to do. We got a tiger from the first book and dinosaurs from the second. So we imagined a tiger who goes to dig up dinosaur fossils and discovers a real dinosaur, instead! The dino looks dangerous, but he's really just annoyed at being awoken. So in the last drawing, I put in the ideas that the kids had for what would make it easier for him to go to sleep: blanket, warm PJs, a teddy, a sleeping cap, milk and cookies, a night light, a bed time story, and a lullaby. Sweet dreams, T-Rex!

What a fun day! That's what happens when you use your imagination. All kinds of crazy and interesting things can happen.

I hope you all believe in your great story ideas now. So, what are you waiting for? Put your ideas down on paper. And remember to share them with others. The more that people enjoy your ideas, the more you'll enjoy them, too.

Feel free to check out all the fun things I have 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!

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