Friday, November 21, 2014

Slinky Story Starter!

When it comes to great American toys, the Slinky is on top of the list. It can also be a great MUSE! After watching the video above, use this StoryStarter to create your own unique Slinky Story!

StoryStarter: It all began inside the Slinky Factory...

Use that StoryStarter to begin your story. Here are some things to think about:
1. Who is your main character? A Slinky? A young boy or girl? A wizard? A frog?
2. What is the conflict inside the Slinky Factory?
3. How is the conflict resolved?

Happy Writing!

Professor Watermelon

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Masquerade Mystery!

Greetings Creative Writers!

Have you ever been to a Masquerade Ball? These parties have quite a history, dating all the way back to the 13th and 14th century in Europe.

Today, they are most common around Carnival season (Mardi Gras) and Halloween. It is customary to arrive to the party wearing a mask to conceal your identity. Throughout the evening, people will try guessing who you are. 

Masquerades are different than other costume parties because the emphasis is on the mask. While people dress in formal clothing, they are not trying to resemble a character like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or any other popular character. 

Below is a famous scene from the Phantom of the Opera. Notice the elaborate masks and costumes. Also, notice the dancing. Masquerades are known for formal dancing.  

Here is your creative writing challenge:

Use a Masquerade Ball as the setting for your story? Who is hosting this Masquerade Ball? Does it take place in a well known city? Or on a different planet? Maybe your characters aren't even human! Maybe they are mice in the woods or rats in the sewer or aliens on Mars. 

Now, who is your main character, and what does he/she/it want?

Now, create a conflict at this Masquerade. Does an uninvited guest appear? Does someone get kidnapped? Is the Masquerade interrupted by a storm, fire, flood, earthquake or SPACE INVASION? Be creative!

Happy Writing!

Professor Watermelon

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's the Great Pumpkin Barbershop Quartet!

Dear Creative Writers!

It is time to activate your imaginations. Above you see six pumpkins, but four of them have faces carved into them. Imagine that these four pumpkins are singing. In fact, they are a barbershop quartet. Do you know what that is?

Well, a barbershop quartet is a group who sings in four-part-harmony! They also sing "a cappella". That means that they are singing without instrumental background. No piano. No drums. No nothing! 

Below is a video of one man pretending to be a barbershop quartet. To be a real barbershop quartet, there would have to be four "real" people singing the four different parts. 

Here is your creative writing challenge: 

Listen to the "barbershop quartet" below. BUT imagine that the voices are coming from the pumpkins above. 

Now, it is time to write these pumpkins' story. How did the group meet? Who taught them how to sing? Where do they want to go? Who is trying to stop them?

This is going to be a treat! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Have fun with this, and HAPPY WRITING!

Professor Watermelon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flying Purple People Eater!

Dear Creative Writers,

It looks like I have found the "One-Eye" of the Flying Purple People Eater. What should we do with it? 

Hold on, what if the One-eyed One-horned Flying Purple People Eater wants it back?


Here is your Creative Writing Challenge! 

Can you write a few paragraphs describing how the Purple People Eater lost its eyeball? Was it taken? Was it stolen? And who has preserved it in this plastic ball filled with solution? Does the Purple People Eater want it back? 

Let your imagination take the lead here! I can't wait to see what you create!

Happy Writing!

Professor Watermelon 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Runaway Sheep! Catch them with your FIVE Senses!

Hello Creative Writers!

I have another "Picture This" challenge for you! 

It is important for writers to use all five senses when they write stories. Why? Well, readers want to be transported to different places and times than what real life will allow. Since humans experience real life with all five senses, it is important for writers to describe their characters, plots, and settings with ALL five senses. Otherwise, a reader will NOT be transported properly, and they will probably stop reading your story. 

Here is your challenge. 

#1. Images often inspire ideas for stories. But images are seen, not felt, heard, smelled or tasted. Can you look at the above image and describe it with ALL five senses? Use your imagination.  

#2. Now, here is the fun part. It is time to use your sixth sense - otherwise called your "third-eye". Look at the same image and add to it. 

Do you see the space ship behind the sheep? Do you smell the fuel leaking from its engine. Why does it smell like rotten eggs? Do you hear that zapping sound? Why are the sheep disappearing into thin air? 

Sometimes, every scene will NOT contain all five senses. But where one scene lacks one or two of the senses, try to make up for it in another scene. 

Happy Writing!

Professor Watermelon

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who lives inside that tree?

Dear Creative Writers!

Welcome to a "Picture This" challenge. There are three parts to this challenge. 

#1. Describe what you see in this picture. Be sure to use descriptive words that will paint a picture for a reader who can't see this photograph.

#2. Now, use your third eye (your imagination) and describe this picture. This is your opportunity to add to the photograph. Maybe a gnome is peeking out of the whole in the tree trunk? Maybe a horse and carriage has stopped in the background? Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.

#3. At this point you might have an idea for a story. Choose a main character. What does this character want? Who or what is keeping him/her/it from getting it? Now, write the story!

Happy Writing! 

Professor Watermelon 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orange Aardvarks? Purple Baboons?

Dear Creative Writers!

I have unearthed one of the neatest books! It's an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall! Take a look at the book trailer. 

Aardvarks are fascinating creatures. Some think they look like the cross between a rabbit and a pig. Take a look!

Here is your Creative Writing Challenge!

Michael Hall's MUSE for his book was aardvarks. How did he take an ordinary aardvark and make it extraordinary? Well, for starters, he turned his aardvark orange! Then, he gave it blue pajamas...ect...ect...

Can you choose a creature and turn it into an extravagantly different color. Then, create a setting where this creature-of-a-different-color lives. Remember... think ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY!

Professor Watermelon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Heroes and Villains: Peter Pan and Captain Hook!

We all know J.M. Barrie's Classic story of Peter Pan. He is one of the world's MOST beloved characters. 

But why is Peter Pan SO beloved and memorable?

Is it because he can fly? Is it because he never grows up? Is it because he is brave and conquers the fearsome Captain Hook? Probably all three.

Not only did J.M Barrie create a memorable main character (protagonist), he also created one of the world's favorite villains (antagonists), Captain Hook!

As you can see, our heroes and villain must both be memorable. How is Captain Hook a memorable character? Is it because he has a hook for a hand? Is it because he is terrified by the crocodile who ate that hand?

No matter what... both characters must be driven by what they want. What does Peter Pan want? What does Captain Hook want? And How does this create a conflict? Remember, with no conflict there is NO story.

Here is your creative writing challenge: 

We all know that Peter Pan conquers Captain Hook, but WHO has turned Peter Pan into a SALT SHAKER!? 

Is there a NEW villain in Neverland? Is it a character that we already know? Is it a new character? Who is it? What does he/she/it want? 

Looks like we have a new CONFLICT! Write a couple of paragraphs explaining this dire situation! Who knows, maybe you will be inspired to write the whole story! 

Happy Writing,

Professor Watermelon 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

MUSEBOX: Meet my Little Friend!

Dear Creative Writers,

It is my pleasure to introduce you to my little grasshopper friend. Isn't he the dandiest bug you've ever seen?

My friend is looking for adventure! Can you give him a name and send him on a quest?

I look forward to seeing where your imagination takes our little grasshopper.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

P.S. Remember, all quests have a goal in mind. And many complications are faced before reaching this goal. What is the grasshoppers goal? Who is standing in his way? Good luck!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MUSEBOX: Look at the puppy in the ripples!

Dear Creative Writers!

Look at the fancy haired puppy that I found in the ripples. What is it doing? Why is it sitting in the water?

All good stories have a conflict! Can you create a conflict with the visual clues that you see in this photo? Write a few sentences describing this conflict.

Here are some hints: Give this dog a name. What does the dog want more than anything right now. Who is keeping this dog from getting what it wants.

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Come Over... Come Over... American Bullfrog!

Photo by: Liz West

Dear Creative Writers,

Welcome to another PICTURE THIS challenge! Here we see an American Bullfrog sitting on the bank of a pond. The water is green and a few lily pads are sprouting. It seems as though the bullfrog is looking at something across the pond. What is it? We don't know.

That is what we DO see. Now, what do we NOT see? Here is where the fun begins. Add to this photograph to make it more EXTRAORDINARY than it already is. When you do this, a story will certainly emerge. 

For example, maybe the nostrils of the Loch Ness Monster is poking through the edge of the photograph. Are the frog and monster having a conversation? What are they talking about? Are they plotting an adventure?

The possibilities are ENDLESS.  I can't wait to see what you come up with! 

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Lighthouse's Keeper!

Hello Creative Writers,

Look at what I found in the MUSEBOX.

A LIGHTHOUSE! I think this little lighthouse could be the setting of your next story. What do you think? Here is your creative writing challenge:

Imagine that your main character is this lighthouse's keeper. Is the keeper a person? A wizard or witch? A mouse? A mouse wizard or witch? Heehee! A slug? A frog? An old lady or old man? You get the point... What does this lighthouse keeper want? Does the keeper have a secret? Is he/she hiding something in this lighthouse? What is it? Who wants it?

I think we are on to something? I look forward to seeing where your imagination takes us.

If you need a little inspiration, take a look at this video.


Wow! Maybe you can use some of that story to embellish your own!

Happy Writing,

Professor Watermelon

Friday, March 21, 2014

The MUSEBOX: Flamingos on a Stick

Photo by: Glor Barrett

Greetings Creative Writers!

Something arrived in the MUSEBOX this week, and I am incredibly excited to share it with you! What could it be?

My new book! FLAMINGOS ON A STICK! It's spookier and goofier than my last book, HERBERT! Take a look at the cover!

Flamingos on a Stick

I will tell you more about the book later, but I want to share with you my MUSE for this book. Can you imagine what it might be??? You got it! FLAMINGOS!

So, here is your CREATIVE WRITING CHALLENGE. Can you use FLAMINGOS for your creative writing MUSE? Let me help you get inspired. 

Watch a baby flamingo hatch from an egg. Is there a story here?

What about these DANCING flamingos? Is there a story here?

And if you are still stumped, take a look at how the creators of Sesame Street used a Flamingo as their MUSE. 

WOW, and opera singing FLAMINGO!

Now it is your turn to take an Ordinary Flamingo and make that flamingo EXTRAORDINARY! Create a main character. What does that main character want more than anything? Who is trying to keep the main character from getting what they want? 

The possibilities are endless! 

Happy Writing,

Professor Watermelon

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Greetings Creative Writers!

With all the St. Patty’s festivities going on, I’ve been thinking a lot about rainbows. They are mystical. They are enchanting. They are BEAUTIFUL! And I LOVE them!

Throughout history, these mysterious bands of color in the sky have AMUSED many writers and storytellers. We often wonder what is at the end of the rainbow or… what lies beyond it.

Take a look at Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz as she ponders this same question…

Dorothy soon finds out that the LAND OF OZ lies beyond the rainbow. I’m sure that you all know this classic story, right? Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh, my!

What about the story of Rainbow Brite? She lives in RAINBOW LAND. This enchanting setting exists at the END of the rainbow. Below is one of several Rainbow Brite stories.

That was fun, wasn’t it?

Here is YOUR creative writing challenge:

It is now your turn to create a setting that lies beyond the rainbow or at the end of one. Describe this place. How do you get there? Who lives there? People? Made-up creatures? Is there magic in this place? Who has the magic? Who wants the magic? Are there towns, villages, forests, lakes? How do the inhabitants get around? Boats? Cars? Dragons? Unicorns? What do they eat? How do they pay for things? What kinds of jobs do they have? What do they want?

While you are writing down all of these things, a main character will eventually POP into your imagination.
What does this main character want? Who is trying to keep him/her from getting it? And now you are on your way to creating your own RAINBOW inspired story.

Good luck, and HAPPY writing!

Professor Watermelon

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Young Authors write about LIONS!

My Creative Writers had lots of fun with last week's PICTURE THIS challenge. Take a look at some of the stories inspired by this photograph!

Photo by: Derek Keats

By: Luke N.

I see a lion that isn't so silent as the other. One is asleep and the other is on guard for everything that passes by their turf. The lions are the last of their kind. 

Then, a purple lion steps onto their turf.  The awake lion is very curious, especially when a three ton purple with green dots Tyrannosaurus Rex runs by chewing gum. Another purple lion is riding on the big dinosaurs back! It was the weirdest scene the lion had ever seen - especially when a two thousand pound  polar bear walks by. It goes "BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!" as it stomps the day away!

Before the lion goes to sleep, he sees a parade of OREOS walk by. It is the Tribe of Ordorbeos! They walk by singing their song, " Oreo... Oreeeeo! Oreo... Oreeeo!

A parade of gum marches by and some hamburgers to top it off! The lion also sees a parade of chocolate covered lollipops run by to catch up. Then, they turn into strawberry flavored lollipops that walk on the moon.

The moon is a giant rock candy  that shines grey. The sun shines bright like a lemon drop.

Wait! It was a lemon drop. The people of Notre Dame came holding jellybeans in their hands. 

The lion sighed and fell asleep. He awoke to find that he was swimming in a pool of jellybeans. They vanished.

The other lion woke up and said, "What did I miss?"

The Magic Place
By: Cooper F. 

I see two lions sitting near a field, and the male is alert and the female is napping. 

There is a forest near them. They go into the forest to go hunting, and the forest is really a portal that makes them a plant.

In the plant world, you can press a button and be changed into another plant.

Somehow there was a miniaturized mouse in a miniaturized hot air balloon, and they were not plants. The mouse told the lions, who were now plants, that he was the owner of the plant world. 

The mouse told them that if you come into the plant world from the top, you and your item that brought you there would be miniaturized and NOT turned into plants. 

The lions felt paralyzed. "But how did you set up this magical place?" said one of the lions.

"I saw the symbol for "pie" and pressed it," said the mouse. "That's how I got this rigged up."

What I See
By: Ben 

I see a lion and another lion. One is alert, and the other one is taking a nap.

The lion saw a ladybug in sunglasses and a jet-pack on, and he said, "I now own this 200,000 acres of land.

The lion refused, "No! This is my land, and I have a jaw and I'm not afraid to use it!"

The ladybug said, "Let's make a deal. You get 100,000 and I get the other 100,000 acres of land."

The lion agreed.

The ladybug wanted a motorcycle, so he said to the lion, "Can I have $20,000,000,000?"

The lion said, "No, you can't have $20,000,000,000 or whatever it costs.

"But I want a motorcycle SO badly," said the ladybug.

"Why didn't you say so," said the lion. "I have a motorcycle you can have. I rode it when I was young. It has flames!"

"Awesome," said the ladybug. "I also want a radio that has Justin Bieber songs on it, and a karaoke machine so I can sing to it."

"Man," the lion said. 

"Do not call me 'Man' again," said the ladybug.

So the ladybug got his stuff and left. They lived happily ever after.

The Death
By: Sydney S.

I'm Fero the Lion, and I have a wife named Taro. We are lions.

I want to tell you about the time I met humans. I was in the green grass, in the safari day dreaming when suddenly I was in a HUGE net. It was made of metal.

I was soon tossed into a truck - an ENORMOUS truck. It smelled like flowers. The ride was bumpy. I soon heard the radio and went to sleep.

I woke up in a place called Professor Watermelon's House and was underneath a pile of bookworms.

I then saw my wife, and we began to rip our way out. When we got out, I saw Professor Watermelon in his bed. He was writing a book called LIONESS IN THE SAFARI. We sat there for sixteen hours until Professor Watermelon said, "Don't cut me please! I just want to have you for pets. I want to write a book about you and teach you how to crochet a bookworm for my creative writers.

I felt his hand touch me. It felt cold and soft. I stood up and I said, "ROOOAAARRR! I will help you but only if you give me food and you don't kill us and you won't take our skins. DO YOU HEAR ME? ROOOAAARRR!"

"Yes, I promise," said Professor Watermelon. 

After that, we were best friends. We would play, run, eat, write, talk, sleep, nap, and watch TV together. We had SO much fun.

BUT on September 11, 2009 the twin towers fell, and they fell on us. I ran and ran and ran and ran until I found my wife, Taro. But when I get there, it was too late. She was dead. 

I went back to Africa and got killed by an alligator. So. that is my story, and I will have more.

My name is Faro, and I am a lion, "ROOOOOAAAAARRRRR!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

I See Two Lions!

Photo by: Derek Keats

Hello Creative Writers!

Welcome to a new "Picture This" challenge! There are three parts to this challenge.

1. Look at the photograph and write a description of what you see. For example, "Two lions are resting in the grass. One is napping and the other is alert."

2. Now it is time to use your imagination. Look at the photograph and embellish it by adding to the scene. For example, "Two lions are resting in the grass. One is napping and the other is alert. A small hot air balloon, piloted by a mouse is lowering to the ground."

3. Take your embellished photograph and create the STORY!


Professor Watermelon  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Weekly MUSE: 2 Dollar Bills

The 2 dollar bill I found!

A few weeks ago, I visited St. Monica Catholic School in Indianapolis. I had a great time helping lots of children find their creative writing MUSE.

When I do school visits, I always send a book order form ahead of time. This way, parents can purchase signed copies of my books for their sons and daughters.

While opening payment envelopes, I encounter lots of 10 dollar, 5 dollar, and 1 dollar bills. I sometimes open envelops full of quarters, nickels, and dimes, too. But I have NEVER received the mysterious, elusive, often called a “phony” 2 dollar bill. Until now!

When I first saw it, I thought, “Is this real?”

I have to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve held a 2 dollar bill. And when this one mysteriously showed itself, it felt magical to hold it in my hands.

I still have not spent it! And I don’t think I want to. EVER! (Wink)

Maybe that’s why we hardly ever see 2 dollar bills. When one is caught, it’s rarely released. You think???
I don’t know, but I do know that we’ve found our MUSE!

$2 bills!

Apparently there are still 1.1 BILLION dollars in 2 dollar bills in circulation. (Or stuck inside greeting cards, billfolds, or old desk drawers.)

Here are some other fun facts about the 2 dollar bill:

The original 2 dollar bill, printed in 1862, featured Alexander Hamilton’s portrait. (Alexander Hamilton was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury. He is now featured on the 10 dollar bill.)

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804)

In 1869, the portrait of Thomas Jefferson took the place of Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson has remained on the 2 dollar bill ever since.

EXCEPT…. for the 10 years that the 2 dollar bill was retired (1966-1976). The 2 dollar bill was reintroduced for the U.S. bicentennial celebration. At this time the picture on the back was also changed.
On the back of the previous 2 dollar bill, a picture of Monticello was featured. The bicentennial 2 dollar bill features a painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The original Jefferson 2 dollar bill!
The bicentennial 2 dollar bill, still printed today! 

Here’s a crazy fact! Some businesses do not accept 2 dollar bills, and legally, they don’t have.

In fact, people often think they are counterfeit (fake). A man in Baltimore, Maryland was held by police in a Best Buy store, when he paid with 64 two-dollar bills. Secret service was called and had to verify that the money was real.

So, maybe THAT is why people don’t spend their 2 dollar bills. Who wants the police called on them?

Before you get away and write interesting stories FULL of money, I thought you might like to see how money is made. Take a look!

Sorry, I couldn’t find a video featuring 2 dollar bills. I had to settle for the twenty!

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character planted two cents and a tree grew that flowered with 2 dollar bills?

WHAT IF your story took place inside the Bureau of Engraving and Printing? Are your characters people? What if they are ants, mice or LEPRECHAUNS!

WHAT IF your main character found an old safe deserted in the woods? When he/she cracked it open, hundreds of Alexander Hamilton 2 dollar bills were inside!

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Weekly MUSE: Locomotives

Steam Locomotive
Photo by: Vestman

Last week we talked about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. This secret system of paths and stations helped Tubman free hundreds of African American slaves!

This week we are going to take a look at the not-so-secret railroad. In particular we are going to look at this railroad’s giant IRON HORSES we call LOCOMOTIVES!

All, aboard, Creative Writers! We’ve found our MUSE!

Unlike Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad, it’s NO secret when a 200 ton locomotive chugs down the railway. These beasts make no effort to roll through town silently.

Take a look at a steam locomotive in action below!

Like I mentioned above, what you just saw was a STEAM locomotive. The engine of this locomotive is powered by steam.

Here is how it works. In most steam engines, coal is fed to a boiler that heats water to make steam. This steam creates pressure, which is used to PUSH the pistons. The pistons PUSH and PULL the rods that make the wheels move, making the classic “chugga-chugga” sound.

How did I learn this? I read Brian Floca’s new book called LOCOMOTIVE. This book just won the Caldecott Medal for best illustrations.

George Stephenson  (1781-1848)

After further research, I learned that the first steam locomotive was invented by George Stephenson of Great Britain in 1820’s.

Stephenson's Rocket Train (first steam locomotive)

Locomotives were first used to transport coal from the coal mines. Later, locomotives were used to power passenger trains.

Pretty soon, traveling by train would become the most popular form of transportation. And this would last until the 1950’s and 60’s when it became popular to travel by AIRPLANE!

Diesel Locomotive
Photo by: Seth J.

Today, locomotives still exist, but most are powered by diesel fuel. These locomotives are still used to transport people across the country, but most are used to transport cargo.

Before I send you on your way to create your own fascinating stories about locomotives, can you think of any stories where locomotives are the MUSE?

What about this one???

That movie clip came from the POLAR EXPRESS. As you can see, the conductor is the captain of the train. The engineer takes the orders.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was a kid and the youngest conductor on the railroad?

WHAT IF you your story’s setting was on a train powered by a steam locomotive? What if the main characters were not human?

WHAT IF the locomotive in your story was not taking the passengers to a normal destination like Seattle or Chicago? Instead, this locomotive was taking passengers to a magical place like Hogwarts or the North Pole. Use these destinations as examples, but create your own.

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Weekly MUSE: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)

February is African American History Month, so before this month flies by, I want to share with you one of America’s greatest treasures: Harriet Tubman.

All aboard, Creative Writers! We’ve found our MUSE – this time on the Underground Railroad. Choo-choooo!

As you already know, the United States of America has a very sad history with slavery. At one time, White Americans were allowed to own Black Americans like they could a horse or a mule. There was so much wrong with system, and eventually a war would be fought because of it – the American Civil War.

Levi Coffin (1798-1877)

But before slavery was ended, there were many white and black Americans that fought tirelessly to free the slaves. These people were called abolitionists. One of the most famous abolitionists is from right here in Indiana, Levi Coffin. In fact, he was called the President of the Underground Railroad.

The Levi Coffin House - A "station" on the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was not a railway for trains or locomotives, and it was also NOT under the ground. Instead, it was a series of secret paths and stations (homes and farms) that escaped slaves used to find their way North to FREEDOM!

Leaders or guides for the Underground Railroad were called conductors. To be a conductor, you must be smart, quick-thinking and BRAVE. White and black people both served as conductors, but one woman stands out beyond the rest. Her name was Harriet Tubman.

Today African American people still refer to her as the Moses of their People. (In many religious texts, Moses is given credit for freeing the Hebrew people from slavery by the Egyptians).

Below is a short video biography of Harriet Tubman. Take a look.

To me, Harriet Tubman was brave on two accounts. Not only was she able to free herself from slavery, but she made several more trips into “slave country” knowing that HUGE bounties were on her head. This did not stop here. She could not be free herself while knowing that so many others suffered under the hands of bondage.

Harriet Tubman is a woman I wish I could have met. She is one of the greatest SHE-roes of all time.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was a kid on one of Harriet Tubman's escapes to Freedom?

WHAT IF your main character took a field trip to the cemetery where Harriet Tubman is buried? Does something interesting or strange happen? 

WHAT IF you could write a letter to Harriet Tubman, and she was able to read it? What would you say?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Weekly MUSE: Owls

The first book in the series...

I have just begun reading The Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky, and I’m incredibly inspired by her muse: OWLS!

I’m so inspired that I've decided to share this MUSE with you!

With who?

With you?




Okay, enough owl humor.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve found our MUSE, and it’s sure to be a HOOT! (Okay, no more, hehehe.)

While reading the first book of the Ga’Hoole series, I was intrigued that the author creates kingdoms in which her owl characters live. Unfortunately, the antagonist of the story wants to conquer all the owl kingdoms, which creates a great good versus evil story, don’t you think???

Take a look at the trailer of the movie that the first three books were made into. This will give you a good idea of this epic story.

Exciting, huh?

Sadly, a real-life owl battle is taking place in the Pacific Northwest’s “Old Growth Forest Kingdom”. For centuries the Spotted Owl has called these forests their home, but a new owl is threatening their existence. Take a look.

So, will the two species be able to work it out? Makes me wonder if this is how Kathryn Lasky got her idea to write the Ga’Hoole series.

Where I live in Indiana, there are no Spotted Owls, but there are Barred Owls. And here, the Barred Owls are the ones who need to watch their backs. Why?

Well, Great Horned Owls hunt, kill and eat Barred Owls in the Midwest. No wonder they are fleeing to the “Old Growth Forest Kingdom” two-thousand miles away. Sounds like an epic story to me!

The Great Horned Owl is noted for its tufts of feathers that appear to be "horns".
Photo by: Contemplicity

Other owls WHO live in Indiana are the Screech Owl and Barn Owl.

Screech Owls are small owls that prefer to life in the hollows of trees.
Photo by: Zach Welty

Soren, the protagonist of the first six Ga’Hoole books is a Barn Owl.

Barn Owls like to build their nests in barns, hence their name. To me, they kind of look like aliens, especially in the face. What do you think?

Barn Owl
Photo by: Eric Kilby

Before I leave you to create your own EPIC owl stories, here are some quick OWL facts:

1.      There are 19 owl species in North America.

2.      Owls hunt at night, which makes them nocturnal.

3.      Owls cannot move their eyes like we can, but they can turn their necks almost ALL the way around, 270 degrees.

4.      Owls are closely related to hawks.

5.      Owls and hawks are raptors, otherwise known as birds of prey.

6.      Owls cannot digest the bones and other “hard pieces” of the animals they eat. Their gizzards collect and squeeze this matter into “owl pellets” and are coughed up kind of like how cat’s cough up hair balls.

7.      A group of owls is called a parliament. How hoity-toity is that?

8.      Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig, is a Snowy Owl. Snowy Owls are AMAZING. Take a look!

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF you told the story of a Spotted Owl that saves his species from extinction in the “Old Growth Forest Kingdom”?

WHAT IF your main character collects owl pellets? What if he/she finds one the size of a loaf of bread? What kind of owl coughed up that???

WHAT IF your main character is an owl who has escaped his captor, an evil wizard? Why does the wizard want him? How does this owl overcome this evil Wizard?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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