Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Rachell AbalosThe Nipa HutSkylaar AmannPBcontemporary, #ownvoices575

Yelena Mendoza takes care of her family’s beloved nipa hut. She checks the foundation, gathers materials, and repairs it regularly, as if it’s a member of the family. Papa says their special home is built to withstand anything in the Philippines. But when a ferocious storm threatens to destroy the nipa hut, Yelena must protect it, before her family loses everything.

THE NIPA HUT is a 575-word picture book for children ages 4 to 8. Readers of The Little Blue Cottage by Kelly Jordan and Bess the Barn Stands Strong by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia will enjoy this story.

This manuscript is an #ownvoices story influenced by my childhood in the Philippines, where I’ve seen many types of nipa huts throughout my parents’ hometown. I am a first generation Filipino-American with a BA in Literature and Writing. I have published several microfiction stories and won Most Original Story in I was also recently an honorable mention in the “Warm Fuzzies” category for the 2020 Spring Fling Kidlit Writing Contest. You can learn more about me at

The first 225 words of my manuscript are included with my WriteMentor post. The complete story is available if you are interested, and I have additional picture books ready for submission and available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Rachell Abalos

The Nipa Hut By Rachell Abalos

Spread 1:
A palm leaf falls from the roof of the nipa hut. It tickles Yelena Mendoza’s nose and wakes her up. She jumps off the bed, and her little feet bend the bamboo floor. 
The sound startles her baby brother Marco. Yelena pats him on the back, then tiptoes away. 

Spread 2:
Yelena opens the big window. 
[Illustration: Papa is in the garden. Mama is outside frying fish. Grandmother is feeding the chickens.] 
She waves at Papa. He waves his straw hat, and shouts, “Magandang umaga!” It is a beautiful morning indeed. “Check on the house,” Papa reminds her. “The nipa hut is family, too.” 

Spread 3:
The house stands tall on its long legs, its feet buried into the ground. Its simple design has stood for generations before her. Yelena inspects each stilt, looking for cracks and flaws that may need attention. TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP!
She hugs the last leg. A stray palm leaf playfully taps her on the shoulder. 
“I’ll take care of you and you will take care of us,” Yelena says.

Spread 4:
She walks around the house and picks up loose and broken leaves and bamboo along the way.
“Papa, the nipa hut is shedding.” Papa nods, and they walk to the beach. 
“Even the humble house needs new clothes,” Papa says, gathering materials to weave into the nipa hut.

Spread 5:
“Bagyo.” Papa points at the gray clouds. A storm is coming. 
“What if our nipa hut is not ready?” asks Yelena.