Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Let's go SAILING!

Photo by: Curt Smith
Greetings Creative Writers,

So far, in Kensuke’s Kingdom, we have learned a lot about sailing, but let’s take this knowledge a few steps further.

Michael and his parents go “blue water sailing.” This means that they sail so far out into the ocean that no land is in sight. They spend several days on their yacht – a 42 foot Bowman.

Take a look at this video to see a newer model of the kind of yacht that Michael’s dad bought. 

Could you live on a yacht like that? It looks quite comfortable to me.

By the way, this is a great time to note the differences between the terms “yacht” and “boat”. As I understand it, a yacht is a luxurious watercraft that is usually longer than 30 feet. “Luxurious” would mean that the watercraft is very comfortable and enjoyable.

A boat is usually less than 30 feet long. However, if it is luxurious, it could also be considered a yacht.

A yacht could also be called a ship. A ship is a watercraft that is over 197 feet long. And as you can see, the term “watercraft” applies to them all (wink).

All sailboats have the same basic anatomy or parts. Let’s learn these parts by taking an animated tour of a cartoon sailboat. 

Now that you’ve learned some basic terminology of sailing, maybe you can use this new knowledge in a story. Here is your Creative Writing Challenge…


Can you write a sailing story through the perspective of an unlikely character? For example, imagine if Kensuke’s Kingdom was told through the perspective of Stella Artois instead of Michael. That would certainly change the book, wouldn’t it?

Here’s an idea: What if your story is told through the perspective of a mermaid or a shark that is following a sailboat. What does this mermaid or shark want? Why is the mermaid or shark following this sailboat?

Now, that sounds like a story I’d like to read!

Remember… the possibilities are endless. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I can’t wait to see where you take us. So, pick up a pen and let’s begin.

Happy Writing,

Professor Watermelon

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Greetings Creative Writers!

I’d like to introduce you to Michael Morpurgo and his book, Kensuke’s Kingdom.  This book is a fascinating tale told through the perspective of a young English lad (also named Michael) who embarks on a sail boat journey around the world with his parents and beloved dog, Stella Artois.

Unfortunately, Michael and Stella are tossed overboard and find themselves on a deserted island full of gibbons, orangutans and one other human being - Kensuke.

Together, let’s read Kensuke’s Kingdom and uncover the MUSES and storytelling devises that Mr. Morpurgo used to write this beautifully woven tale of survival and friendship.

But first, let’s meet Mr. Morpurgo himself. I believe he has some writing advice for us. 

Happy Writing,

Professor Watermelon

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Weekly MUSE: Nutcrackers

The Holidays are here, and the decorations are displayed. Store shelves are stocked with candy canes, snow globes and make-your-own gingerbread houses. Christmas trees are wrapped in twinkly lights, and the candles on the menorah are just waiting to be lit.

But every now and then, I feel as if something is watching me, and it’s not Santa Claus.


Sometimes they are teeny tiny, and sometimes they are almost as tall as me. Do you know what I mean?

And this leads me to our Weekly Muse.

What are nutcrackers? And how did they become so popular around the holidays?

Well, I found some great information from the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, Washington. This town is just a few hours from Seattle, across the Cascade Mountains. Here is the website.

Nuts have been a part of the human diet since, like, forever. And since some nuts are hard to crack, we’ve found some efficient ways of cracking them without cracking our teeth.

The earliest nutcrackers were simple stones with small pits to hold the nut in place. Later, nutcrackers were made of tough metals like bronze and iron.

It wasn’t until the 15th and 16th centuries that woodcarvers made nutcrackers that looked like people and animals. And by 1872, Wilhelm Fuchtner of Germany began the mass production of the toy soldier nutcrackers we know today.

These toy soldier nutcrackers became even more popular when Russian composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote the ballet, “The Nutcracker”, which was first performed in St. Petersburg in 1892.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 1840-1893

But let’s not forget the writer who started it all. If it were not for Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman, Tchaikovsky wouldn’t have had a story to incorporate with his music. And maybe Fuchtner wouldn’t have mass produced his toy soldier nutcrackers, either.  

Yes, E.T.A. Hoffman (arent’ we glad he went by his initials) wrote a story called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” which was the inspiration behind the ballet.

E.T.A. Hoffman 1776-1822

That’s a mouthful of names, isn’t it? Let me make break it down for you…

1. E.T.A Hoffman wrote the story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” in 1816.
2. Wilhelm Fuchtner mass produced the toy soldier nutcrackers in 1872.
3. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” was first performed in 1892.

And since this popular ballet is still performed all over the globe, the toy soldier nutcrackers are still seen today around the holidays.

Take a look at this video, which shows some scenes of the ballet. Make sure you look at the magnificent sets and costumes designed by famous children’s book writer and illustrator, Maurice Sendak.

If you would like to read a full summary of the nutcracker story, here is a link.

Also, take a look at this video of a mass production of toy soldier nutcrackers today.

Wasn’t that neat?

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? You can start by writing some “what if” questions. Here are few of mine. Feel free to use them.

WHAT IF your main character found a nutcracker buried in the snow after a blizzard? Who does it belong to? How did it get there?

WHAT IF your main character heard a knock at the door and found a nutcracker on the doorstep? What does this nutcracker want?

WHAT IF your main character is a nutcracker with a BIG idea? What is this nutcracker up to, and how will this cracker hatch his/her plan?

If you need more inspirations, here is a creative writing challenge:

Think of an extraordinary setting, like a castle, a cave or maybe even a different planet. Now, add a nutcracker character. How does this nutcracker fit into this setting? Is he/she the king or queen of the castle? Has a mysterious character hidden a nutcracker inside a cave? Why? Have aliens taken a nutcracker back to their home planet? Whatever the situation may be, what happens next?

The possibilities are endless!

So, grab a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


It's HERE!

George Ewing takes a tour of the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and realizes that he is the 5th great grandson of Mr. Riley's butler.Even more surprisingly, he uncovers a magical plot that he must finish. For a hundred years, the Squidgicum Squee, a creature that swallows and erases books from history, has been trapped in Mr. Riley's cigar box. But the Goblins have stolen it and plan to release it. Will George stop the Goblins in time before they carry out their wicked plan?

Monday, April 11, 2016


Photo Credit: Kirstin McMillan
Greetings Creative Writers!

I LOVE dogs! And when I saw this puppy portrait, my imagination went wild. First of all, I wondered how the photographer was able to get all of these dogs to sit still. Then I wondered what kind of story I could write about this Canine Crew!

But I think I am going to leave that part up to YOU!

Here is you Creative Writing Challenge: Give each of these dog's a name. Then, decide what they want. Do they seek adventure? What kind of adventure? Who is the leader? 

Then, decide who is trying to stop this Canine Crew from getting what they want. A human? A storm? A CAT?

Speaking of cats, I'm reminded of one of my favorite dog stories, The Incredible Journey. The main characters include two dogs and one cat. The book was turned into a movie years ago called Homeward Bound. Take a look at the movie trailer below. 

Does that story inspire you to write your own canine story? I hope so! 

The possibilities are endless!

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

Monday, September 28, 2015

What if TREES could talk?

The Kile Oak Tree in Irvington, Indiana
(Believed to be as old as 450 years)
The Kile Oak is a bur oak, named after the Kile Family
who once owned the land where it grows.

Dear Creative Writers,

What if trees could talk? What would they say? 

Many writers have pondered this question, so let's go ahead and add ourselves to that list.

A few weeks ago I visited the Kile Oak Tree in Irvington - a neighborhood in Indianapolis. This tree is believed to be as old as 450 years. WOW! I immediately wondered what this tree has witnessed throughout its LONG life. Could it give us humans some advice?

In the Disney movie, Pocahontas, Grandmother Willow gives Pocahontas, a young Native American girl, some advice. In fact, many Native American people still believe that trees hold knowledge. Take a look at the video clip below...

When I visited the Kile Oak, I placed my hands on its trunk and was astounded that I was touching a living being that was older than our state...older than our country... older than the REAL Pocahontas. Yes, Pocahontas was a real person. She was born in 1595 and died in 1617. And the Kile Oak is believed to have sprouted from its acorn around 1565. WOW!

Speaking of acorns... Here is a photo of some acorns I picked up from beneath the Kile Oak Tree.

Could you imagine having a mom or dad that is 450 years old? That's what would happen if I planted one of these acorns.

This leads me to another question. What if acorns could talk? What would the acorns from a 450 year-old tree say?

Maybe this photo will help rev your imagination!

While these acorns do NOT come from the Kile Oak, you can still use your imagination and pretend that they do. 

Which leads us to our CREATIVE WRITING CHALLENGE! Can you tell a story through the perspective of a tree? It can be the Kile Oak or another tree from your yard or imagination.

Here are some questions to think about:

1. Did this tree witness a particular event in human history that it would like to recall?
2. Does the tree have some advice that it would like to give the human race?
3. Does the tree want something for itself? 
4. Is this tree a gateway to a different world? How does the tree take you there?


Create a world for the ACORN PEOPLE! Do they live is a town or city beneath MIGHTY OAK? What is the name of this town or city? What do the acorn people want? What are they afraid of? 

Feel free to do both challenges if you WOOD like! hehehe!

With imagination,

Professor Watermelon

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What if DINOSAURS could READ?

Dear Creative Writers,

What if dinosaurs could read? Would they have their own libraries with books the size of billboards? Or would they read the books in OUR libraries?

If they read the books in our libraries, which ones would they check-out? Comic books? Cook books? Or Romance?

Its interesting to think about, it isn't it? So, let's take these thoughts a step further with a Creative Writing Challenge!

Create a book-reading DINOSAUR character. Where does he/she live? What makes this dinosaur extraordinary (besides being able to read)? What does this dinosaur want? Who is keeping him/her from getting what they want?

Once you have an idea, begin writing your story. If you need some inspiration, read HENRY AND THE BUCCANEER BUNNIES! In this book, bunnies can read. But they aren't ordinary bunnies - they are extraordinary PIRATE bunnies!

Here's the cover:

Happy Writing!

Professor Watermelon