Writing and drawing prompt — meeting your character

Hi, all. Thanks to the Nerdy Book Club for running this essay on meeting a character for the first time. You can probably guess what my writing prompt for today is going to be, but I’ll go ahead and explain it anyway: It’s time to do a character swap.

You can do it one of two ways

Get the members of your family together in one room. Everybody gets too pieces of paper. On page one, I want you to design a character. Please include the following:

  1. What your character looks like (big, pink, stripy, human)
  2. What your character is wearing,
  3. Your character’s favorite food, sport and hobby
  4. Your character’s favorite expression
  5. Your character’s current problem

Now everyone pass that paper to the right. And on your blank page, please draw the character you were handed. If you do this project and want to send in some pics, I’d love to see them. How did it feel to have someone else bring your character to life?

And the second way, of course, is to do this prompt with a friend. It’s a great way to get in touch especially since you are no longer seeing your friends each day, Send the results back and forth by email or text, with the help of a parent or guardian (unless you are a parent or guardian, in which case you do not need permission). I’d love to see the results. Were there any surprises?

More writing prompts are here. 


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Write it down: COVID-19 Writing Prompt

Whether we’re kids or adults, this is a time worth documenting, so today’s writing prompt is simple: Make a list of things that are different between today and yesterday. You can write it out as a detailed list. You can turn it into a what’s in/what’s out list, like the kind that runs at around New Year’s. You can do a drawing journal. Anything that will help you document this moment in time.

If you’re looking for other writing prompts, search under summer writing. (Most of my prompts are from then. That may change…)

More writing prompts are here. 

If you want to share something I’d love to see it.


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Writing Prompts: A quick collection

For parents who are out there looking for things for their kiddos to do while they’re out of school: Here’s a link to 11 of my summer writing prompts. You may have to switch the season and the circumstances, but you can still look at the world around you and write about it — and if you’re self-quarantining, remember writing can make the world a little larger. My plan is to go into these and try to adjust them as the days go on. I’ll keep adding some more recent writing prompts below:

Meet Your Character: A writing and drawing prompt.

COVID-19: Let’s write about now.

Writing out your fears: a poetry prompt.

And while we’re at it, Here’s a learn-to-draw exercise from Victoria Tentler-Krylov. Victoria’s post is in Instagram, so kiddos, ask an adult in your life before accessing;

And a Cyclops bookmark tutorial == my first craft video, with a little help from my feline coworker.

The prompt I’ve been asking kids to do lately is centered around Cyclops of Central Park, my book that came out in February. In the book, Cyclops is afraid of pretty much everything, including restaurants that don’t serve spaghetti. But Eugene, a sheep, is just the opposite. I’d love for kids to tell me what Cyclops and Eugene would be doing in their town. What would scare Cyclops at first? What would he come to love? What would Eugene try to convince Cyclops to do? How would you make Cyclops feel better bout the world? And what would he and Eugene EAT?

I love seeing pictures of Cyclops and Eugene out of the cave! I’m trying to get them to all 50 states, but even if you tell me about a state they’ve already seen, I’ll write back!

Be well — and wash your hands!



Pics by Tony Carmack (California)  Barry Bowden (Marietta, Ga) and Tamar Stein (Singapore orchid garden)



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Read! Write! Engage!

Friends. I have to limit my school visits this year so I’m hoping to connect with students in my off hours. That’s why I’m hoping teachers will have their classes engage with me about Cyclops of Central Park, a book written about a number of things, including my anxiety. Now that Cyclops is out of his cave, what’s he going to see?

Cyclops is afraid of grass and restaurants that don’t serve spaghetti. What do your students think he might worry about at first in your town, but eventually love? What will Eugene, who doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything, love right from the start?

Send a photo of the book in your state and let me know your kids’ thoughts on the above. Parents: are your kids out of school this week? Have them write me, too! I’ll write back and let them know some other places Cyclops and Eugene have been. And if they have other questions about writing, I’m glad to answer those, too.

Thanks for your help with this project. I miss being in front of kiddos as often as I used to be, so I’m looking forward to being in your classroom this year, even if it isn’t always live and in person.

In the photos on this page: Librarian Tony Carmack took Cyclops to see the Angeles National Forest. Wendy Shang took him to see the Biscuits Baseball Team in Alabama. And Mia Musolino took him to see a cave and the Paw Paw tunnel in almost-West Virginia.

Repeats are totally allowed (there’s so much of each state to see!) but for the record, we’ve hit these states so far:

Alabama  Arizona  California Georgia Florida Illinois Kansas Louisiana Maryland Minnesota Nevada New Jersey New York Nevada North Carolina Ohio Oklahoma Pennsylvania Virginia South Carolina Texas Wisconsin


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Order and help Cyclops and Eugene visit all 50 states

Help get Cyclops and Eugene to all 50 states!

Teachers and librarians, parents and kids: I’d love to hear from students about where this book travels (and therefore, Cyclops and Eugene). What did Eugene like? What made Cyclops afraid?

Post a pic of the book in your state and I’ll mail a personal note to your class! Order info below.











Order Cyclops of Central Park

Out Feb. 11th.

Signed copy from One More Page

Find a book store through Indie Bound.

Order from Amazon

Order from Barnes and Noble


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