✍️ 300 Writing Prompts: Write the first few lines of your children’s book


When I left Red Ventures, my friend, Brittany, gifted me a book called 300 Writing Prompts. When I fly, I ask the person lucky enough to sit next to me to choose a prompt for me to write. (Sometimes, I just pick my own.)

This one, I picked.

You’re a children’s book writer. Write the first few lines of your new book. This one is about Jamal Tamal, a little boy with a big imagination (I might know how it feels.) He imagines himself in incredible predicaments, which become real-life trouble.

I know there are plenty of contemporaries for Jamal, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Captain Underpants, and that there are some similarities.

This book might appeal to young Hispanic kids who sometimes struggle with embracing their cultural identity and fitting into an Anglo world. I also hope the dreamer kid who doesn’t always fit into the mainstream world will also identify with Jamal.

Madison’s rendition of Jamal Tamal. I love this so much!

The Adventures of Jamal Tamal

Pape Sarape flicked the lights off and on in Jamal Tamal’s closet. This is the way a dad whose son sleeps in the closet wakes that son up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for school. Andele, mono Pape says in a loud whisper. It’s time for breakfast.

Mono means monkey and that’s what Pape Sarape calls Jamal, even though Jamal is way too old for that. He’s nearly 8, and even though he still climbs trees he’s not really a monkey anymore. He carries his book bag on one shoulder even, just like the big boys.

One big-boy thing Jamal doesn’t do, though? He has unusual friends. I don’t mean Charlotte from Charlotte, the pretty girl one grade ahead of Jamal. And Sutton von Sutton is just a regular boy in Jamal’s grade. He’s from California and has cooler hair than Jamal.

No, the friends that other kids don’t understand are the ones only Jamal, Charlotte and Sutton can see. Namely, the Three Helpful Frogs. They’re dynamite for helping this trio solve all the mysteries on Lilac Lane. But, there’s one thing.

One Helpful Frog is always right. One Helpful Frog is always wrong. The third Helpful Frog? He just never really knows, to be honest. So, you can see how helpful/unhelpful Helpful Frogs can be to a gaggle of kids who has to bring order to the world.

Jamal crunches the fruitiest and crunchiest sugary cereal on the planet and slurps the blue milk left over in the bowl before he grabs his backpack and corn-husk cape and jumps from the fifth step (a new record!) onto the sidewalk toward the bus stop.

It’s just another day at school for most kids at Lone Pine Charter School. But not for Jamal. Not with Sutton and Charlotte and the Helpful Frogs. Teachers love Jamal, but they tell his parents at teacher conferences, Sometimes Jamal goes a bit too far …

What were your favorite books as a kid? What kind of books are your kids into?

Quotes kids book Alice





  1. Amanda says:

    This is beautiful, E.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, A – great to see you here! I really want to make this happen. Madison giving him life really sparked me.

    2. Ctisty says:

      What an AKAZING imagination!! You amaze me with your writing skills!! I LOVE TO READ YOUR STUFF!!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Thanks Cristy! So humbled. His story has been beating around in my head since I was little.

  2. Sounds like the start of a fun story! Have you written any more?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Annabelle! Nothing yet … but this kind of makes it real to me, having introduced it here. I’m ready to get going!

  3. Beth says:

    LOVE this. I want an entire series of this guy so I can read them with Oliver. Get writing my friend! He loves quirky characters. Right now he’s super into Nate the Great which I remember reading when I was his age. Nice little detective stories.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Beth! I would love for you to have them for Oliver – can I count on you to beta read? This is very motivating! Nate the Great is all that. My girls loved Geronimo Stilton!

  4. beth says:

    aw – wonderful!

  5. Please continue Jamal’s story. Wow.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I definitely will. So glad you like it Mimi!

  6. Miriam says:

    So gorgeous and I love Maddison’s drawing of Jamal. Great character and storylines Eli. Keep going!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I loved it instantly, Miriam! I hope to develop all of these characters and have some fun. Thank you for the encouragement!

  7. Lauren Becker says:

    I love that he sleeps in the closet – I don’t know why, it’s just a fun little quirk. This is really good. You should definitely keep writing!


    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m glad you liked that, Lauren! Fun fact: I once took my closet doors off and stuck the headboard end of my bed in there, as a kid. Hayden put up a plank and tossed her mattress on it once, for a while. Love when quirks span generations! Thank you for encouraging me – I’d love to be in a review on your page one day!

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