First Lines: Picture Books

 

Another First Lines post which was surprisingly enjoyable to compile. Also, it was a bit nostalgic.

This one is dedicated to my friend and fellow blogger, Norah, who thought a First Lines: Picture Books would be a grand idea. And she was right.

Some will argue that first lines aren’t important in picture books. Eh. Maybe. I’m not sure. They are a hook just the same as any other but you don’t need to keep the reader’s attention as long. (Which is not the point of a hook anyway.) Either way, it was fun to flip through these beautifully illustrated stories to find first lines.

Have you read any of these to your children? Did you read any when you were a child?

 

“There was once a Velveteen Rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.”

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Illustrated by Robyn Officer

 

“The sun is tired. It goes down the sky into the drowsy hills. The sunflowers lean. They fall asleep to dream of tomorrow’s sun.”

The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

 

“No one ever came to Bear’s house. It had always been that way, and Bear was quite sure he didn’t like visitors. He even had a sign.”

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

 

“Once, in a beautiful, faraway land…that was, somehow, not so very far…a land where every stone was a teacher and every breeze a language, where every lake was a mirror and every tree a ladder to the stars, into this far and lovely land there fell…a truth.”

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Jon J Muth

 

“Once, long long ago…yet somehow, not so very long…when all the animals and rocks and winds and waters and trees and birds and fish and all the beings of the world could speak…and understand one another…there began…an argument.”

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee

 

“Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.”

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow / Lenny Lipton Illustrated by Eric Puybaret

 

“At the edge of every day, the Night Eater ran behind the moon. And as he ran, the Night Eater gobbled up the darkness.”

The Night Eater by Ana Juan  

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live.”

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

 

“Tonight, when I looked under my bed for my monster, I found this note instead.

‘Gone fishing. Back in a week. – Gabe’”

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll Illustrated by Howard McWilliam

 

“There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind. Most people spent their time indoors. As you can imagine, it was a very dreary place.”

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

 

“Oscar loved his boy. He also loved stinky cat food for breakfast and crunchy cat food for dinner.”

Oscar and the Mooncats by Lynda Gene Rymond Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

 

“Over 100 years ago, as the stars swirled in the sky, as the Earth circled the sun, as the March winds blew through a little town by a river, a baby boy was born. His parents named him Albert.”

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 

“It was autumn. In the hush of the forest a lone yellow leaf clung to the branch of a great oak tree.”

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

 

“Once there was a Little Rabbit who did not like himself. He had soft pink ears, bright red eyes, and a short, fluffy tail. He was a beautiful little rabbit. But he wanted to be anything except what he was.”

The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey Illustrated by Chris Santoro

 

“Imagine a place…

where you bend and sway, leap and land, right where a story begins.”

Imagine a Place by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a day…

when you can dive down through branches or swim up to the sun.”

Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a night…

when snow white sheets grow crisp and cold, and someone whispers, ‘Follow me’.”

Imagine a Night by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves


First Lines PictureBook

 

Next up:

First Lines: Epilogue

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

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First Lines: Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-Ups (or SABGUS)

 

Another post in my First Lines series. Yes, it is here. Novels that are acceptable to discuss at dinner parties.

My choices for First Lines: SABGUS are varied. Please feel free to think of this post as a platter of fine cheeses. Some are light and spreadable, some are solid and must be sliced with a chainsaw. I don’t love all the cheeses. *gasp* What?!

It’s true.

In fact, I will be completely honest with you here and say that I haven’t even read some of these books. A few were taken from my TBR pile (which is not getting any smaller). Also, I raided my husband’s bookshelf to get some of these fabulous firsts and am not sorry one bit. They are marvelous, if not my particular cup of cocoa, and I had a splendid time reading through them. Some of these first lines, though, do belong to favorite books of mine and it was wonderful visiting them again.

For your dining pleasure, I bring you First Lines: SABGUS.

 

“I vaguely remember my schooldays. They were what was going on in the background while I was trying to listen to the Beatles.”

The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams

 

“Tap-dancing child abuser. That’s what the Sunday New York Times from March 8, 1993, had called Viva.”

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

 

“It’s morning. For now, night is over. It’s time for the bad news. I think of the bad news as a huge bird, with the wings of a crow and the face of my Grade Four schoolteacher, sparse bun, rancid teeth, wrinkly frown, pursed mouth and all, sailing around the world under cover of darkness, pleased to be the bearer of ill tidings, carrying a basket of rotten eggs, and knowing – as the sun comes up – exactly where to drop them. On me, for one.”

Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

 

“Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snails’ eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.”

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

 

“A smear of fresh blood has a metallic smell. It smells like freshly sheared copper.”

A Deadly Shade of Gold by John D. MacDonald

 

“My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin, ghosts who leave the mists just to visit her kitchen on Balboa Street in San Francisco.”

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

 

“The flash projected the outline of the hanged man onto the wall.”

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

 

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.”

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

 

“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

 

“My friend Patsy was telling me a story. ‘So I’m at the movie theater,’ she said, ‘and I’ve got my coat all neatly laid out against the back of my seat, when the guy comes along—’ And here I stopped her, because I’ve always wondered about this coat business. When I’m in a theater, I either fold mine in my lap or throw it over my armrest, but Patsy always spreads hers out, acting as if the seat back were cold, and she couldn’t possibly enjoy herself while it was suffering.”

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

 

“It is a relatively little-known fact that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead.”

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris

 

“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can’t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.”

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson

 

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

“In the world of humankind, the tides of power are turning… To me, the seasons of men go by in moments, but from time to time a flicker will attract my attention.”

Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley  

 

“On the day after my mother’s death, I returned to 83 Beals Street for the first time in fifteen years. I had stolen something from there when I was nine years old and kept it long after my reasons for holding on to it has lost their urgency.”

An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer  

 

“It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.”

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

 

 

First Lines SABGUS

 

Next up:

First Lines: Picture Books

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Young Adult Novels (YA)

 

Another First Lines post to feed my passion and your imagination.

So, I’ve shared some children’s and middle grade firsts with you.

Now.

The time has come, the blogger said, To talk of other things: Of love — and loss — and fantasy — Dystopia and kings! Yes, I’m talking YA. Hold on to your socks.

As you all know (since I’ve included this little tidbit about myself pretty much everywhere) I love YA.

Before you close this out, please give it a chance. The post, yes, sure, but the umbrella that all YA books are hanging out under. Interestingly enough, I’ve found that more adults refuse to read YA than they do middle grade or children’s books.

Conversations go something like this: “I’m not a teenager.” “I have no interest in reading about idiotic kids in high school, thank you very much.” “Why would grown-ups read this crap?”

Yes, they go something like that.

There is a lot of controversy over adults reading YA. Which, quite honestly, makes me wonder about the adults who spout off about this and, also, the price of potatoes in Jaipur.

Onward! First lines…

 

“I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.”

His Fair Assassin Book 1: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

 

“Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.”

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

 

“It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.”

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

 

“In all the years I’d existed, I’d never expected to be free.”

The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

 

“Petunia was knitting some fingerless gloves to match her new red velvet cloak when the Wolves of Westfalian Woods attacked.”

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

 

“Every morning, the sun comes up and turns the earth red, and I think: This could be the day when everything changes. Maybe today the Society will fall.”

Matched Trilogy Book 3: Reached by Ally Condie

 

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.”

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 

“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth

 

“They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see.”

Blood of Eden Book 1: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa


“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

 

 “Spring in the mountains of Morravik was a about as predictable as a tired two-years child in a house of wonders…”

The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede  

 

“Just so you know, when they say ‘Once upon a time’…they’re lying.”

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
(I cheated on this one. Technically, this isn’t the first line of the novel but it’s the first line of the “Oliver” chapter—the main character of this book within a book)

 

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.”

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 

“He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”
Book 1

“She spoke to him before the world fell apart.”
Book 2

“It was the smell that began to drive Thomas slightly mad.”
Book 3

Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

(James got a hat trick. I mean, really, he nailed every first line in each book of this trilogy.)

 

First Lines YA

 

Next up:

First Lines: Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-ups

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Middle Grade Books

 

Another First Lines post to feed my passion and your imagination. (I feel a bit like a literary Willy Wonka…)

Possibly this post will inspire you to sneak in a beach book or summer reading for your kids. ? Just a thought.

This is my middle grade book post. I admit I have a difficult time differentiating between children’s and MG. The Hobbit and Harry Potter are children’s. But so are Magic Tree House and Judy Moody. There are board books, picture books, readers, chapter books… This is a murky, grey area of writing and reading and marketing.

Anyhoo, these are the books I chose as middle grade, whether they are or not. There’s an overlap and I’m overlapping.

On to the first lines…

 

“Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped.”

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

 

“I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an X-box. Stuff like that makes me ordinary, I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.”

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

 

“Carter here. Look, we don’t have time for long introductions. I need to tell this story quickly, or we’re all going to die.”

The Kane Chronicles Book 2: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan 

 

“Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.”

The Heroes of Olympus Book 1: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan


“It is difficult to choose a new name for oneself. Even more difficult, I imagine, than choosing a name for a child, for one is confusingly intimate with oneself, whereas one is barely acquainted with a baby upon its arrival.”

An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

 

“You don’t just fall into supervillainy.”

Book 1: The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz 

 

“Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.”

Eragon by Christopher Paolini


“Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 

 

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

 

“The deputy told me to empty my pockets: two quarters, a penny, a stick of bubble gum, and a roll of grip tape for my skateboard. It was pitiful.”

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

 

“The day before Mrs. Starch vanished, her third-period biology students trudged silently, as always, into the classroom.”

Scat by Carl Hiaasen 


“We have not yet seen Tomorrow. We have not yet dared go there.”

How to Train Your Dragon Book 11: How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero by Cressida Cowell


First Lines Middle Grade

 

Next up:

First Lines: YA

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Children’s Books

 

I’m a sucker for firsts: first lines, first paragraphs, first pages.

I love them.

What do you think? The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world? As a reader (and a writer) how important are “firsts” to you?

They are essential for me, as both reader and writer. Also, I adore collecting them. They take up less space than Hummels and need no dusting.

There are so many. Far too many to post on a blog but I am going to share some favorites. Because. You are worth it. And this was such great fun to put together.

This is my children’s book post, as the title clearly states, but please, don’t turn your nose up at these. There will be no nose turning allowed. Children’s books aren’t just for children anymore. Well, with The Hobbit and Chronicles of Narnia, were they ever really just for kids?

Without further fuss delay ado…

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 

 

“I don’t trust Clive Fagenbush.

How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions? Besides, I’m beginning to suspect he’s up to something. What’s worse, I think he suspects I’m up to something. Which I usually am.”

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers 

 

“The woman smiled so politely that he felt offended.”

Pay It Forward (Young Readers Edition) by Catherine Ryan Hyde 

 

“The first thing many people do after getting out of bed is put on a pair of slippers. The first thing Pearl Petal did on that Friday morning was slip her feet into a pair of leprechaun shoes.”

The Imaginary Veterinary: Book 4 The Order of the Unicorn by Suzanne Selfors 


“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

“There are a lot of things that can hatch out of an egg. A chicken, for example. Or a dragon. And when the egg in question is the size of a pumpkin, and almost as orange, not to mention burning hot, you know that you’re far more likely to get a dragon than a chicken.”

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

 

“There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always.”

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

 

“There was only orange juice in the fridge. Nothing else that you could put on cereal, unless you think that ketchup or mayonnaise or pickle juice would be nice on your Toastios, which I do not, and neither did my little sister, although she has eaten some pretty weird things in her day, like mushrooms in chocolate.”

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman 

 

“If you believe that death is about to spring upon you at any moment, you won’t spend much time watching television.”

The Books of Elsewhere: Book 3 The Second Spy by Jacqueline West


“Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.”

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book 1 Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede 

 

“The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.”

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

 

“It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon.”

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

 

First Lines_childrens books

 

Next up:

First Lines: MG & YA (*ahem* No nose turning.)

Do you have any favorite first lines from children’s books? Place some in the comments. I’d love to read them.