Thursday, October 15, 2009

"I wonder why that ball doesn't pop..."


one-line pen & ink drawing (9" x 11")

I used this as a creative writing prompt with my boys. They were given the above illustration and invited to wonder while also allowed to add their own color and background to the illustration. Here is what they wrote:

Chris (age 10)
Maybe he is as light as a feather or maybe the ball is a rock just colored. Or maybe there was invisible strings tied to him. Or maybe he can float. Or maybe the ball was very, very strong. Or maybe it was a lot of people dressed up as an elephant. Or maybe it was a stuffed animal. Or maybe we will never know. ThEnd

Ben (age 7)
Maybe he is as light as a feather. Maybe he drank something that made him light as a feather. Maybe he had to fight monsters to get the drink in a cave. Maybe he is a magician that can turn himself into an elephant. Or maybe the ball was a wizard or they both were wizards or maybe the elephant just was light. The End

dth (age 33)
Indeed, this is a strange sight, an elephant on a ball that doesn’t seem to pop. Maybe you are thinking to yourself this is simply a picture showing the elephant on the ball right before it popped. I too had this thought until I came to know the elephant personally. His name is Oakland and I came to meet him last Saturday after the circus came to our fairground here in Arbor County. What I can tell you is the ball never did pop. I watched Oakland hop up onto that ball (which in and of itself was quite a sight). The ball hardly even sagged as his enormous amount of weight pounced upon it. And so, I began to wonder about this circus trick—knowing that much of what goes on in the circus is simply well practiced stunts, I thought I would find Oakland after the show and inquire how he did it. So, I bought a bag of warm peanuts to entice the truth out of him, as well as thank him for his show, and headed to the back lot where the elephants were held. Upon entering the tent I saw Oakland lounging in a hammock sipping some limeade (which I found out is an elephant’s favorite drink). I approached cautiously not knowing if Oakland was a temperamental creature or not. Too my delight he welcomed me with a great smile and offered me some limeade (which I found to now be my favorite drink). He spoke to me softly, “I don’t get many visitors back here as everyone seems to leave when the show is over. Did you like it?”

“Oh, yes, very much,” I replied. It was at this point that I handed him the warm peanuts. “I bought you a treat for giving such an amazing show.”

“Oh my, warm roasted peanuts, my favorite. I remember when my mother used to give these to me.” It was at the mention of his mother that Oakland’s smile seemed to fade away and he stared out toward the tent’s opening.

Being pretty good at reading elephant mannerisms I asked, “Do you not see your mother much?”

Oakland’s trunk seemed to sink into the floor as his head lowered. “My parents were killed in a great battle when I was young and I was left an orphan. The animals of the circus have now become my family.” Here his head raised and he looked me in the eyes again. “But enough of my sad story. Tell me what you really liked about the show.”

“Well, that is actually why I am here. I marveled to see you on that ball this evening and I simply had to know how you did it. I wondered if you might dispel my wondering?”

“Ah, yes, that is a fine circus trick indeed. I suppose my telling how it is done doesn’t remove any of the wonder—simply inserts a new kind of wonder. You see, when I was orphaned I would spend a lot of time in the forest by myself. One day I was particularly down and brooding over the fact that I thought I had no special gifts to offer the world. Well, who should come along but my bug friend Jupiter. I told him of my distress and longing to be more than an elephant in a forest and he told me about a circus show he had seen the night before with animals of all variety who performed amazing feats of wonder. He suggested we come up with a way to enter the circus. Well, a plan emerged. It took a year of practice every day before and after school but we finally mastered it.” Here Oakland paused and called out, “Jupiter, come here.”

From a back corner of the tent behind an old beat-up bin a giant pill bug tucked himself into a ball and rolled to Oakland’s feet. I stood up stunned at what I saw. “You mean you were out there standing on a giant pill bug named Jupiter, rolling around and doing that juggling?”

“That’s right,” they answered in unison.


How would you finish the prompt or come up with a new prompt or added illustrations...

2 comments:

chrysallidis said...

all your drawings are amazing! all the one line pen...great!
thank you for your visit and nice comment!

dthaase said...

thanks for the visit and the kind words