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?


23 thoughts on “First Lines: Middle Grade Books

  1. Love these lines. Why is it kids books start more fun? These first lines are awesome each one made me smile and I wish more books for adults started like this and stayed as fun… When did we grow up and get boring? Ugh

    Liked by 2 people

    • You and I, dear lady, are Peter Pan’s sisters. The ones he brought with him to Neverland. (It’s not in the…you can’t buy…I have the only copy…) And we get to take showers and don’t have to hang out with (or clean up after) the Lost Boys. Also, Tinker Bell is not jealous of us at all and is our fairy friend. Not a flying backstabbing b*tch. Can’t wait to see you next week…YA First Lines. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Liz. 🙂 It’s sort of my “blog break” so I can concentrate on summer visits and getting ready for the dreaded back-to-school madness. Also, I love first lines in case that wasn’t clear.


  2. Oh! I love these. I agree, children’s/MG… there’s no clear definition. I just started reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to Munchkin (5.5 yrs). I’m a little nervous about some of it (the stone table part, to be exact) but I think he’ll be into it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Right? It’s murky… Oh, The Chronicles of Narnia are bloody awesome. I always wonder, too, if my kids (especially my uber-sensitive one) are too young. You can gauge your little one’s reaction and perhaps save it. Or not. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. children’s books do start way more fun!!! Just taken stock of most my “recently” (recent being relative) and they are roughly in the books for the young ha! and I hadn’t even noticed or thought about it.
    Forever Young

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fun books often provide a fantastic story. I think that’s part of the issue. Some people think if it’s “fun”, it can’t be good. A lot of books I read are in the children’s/MG/YA category. More so since I had kids but I’ve always loved them.

      Forever Young!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is amazing, Sarah. They are beautiful first lines, and I am glad you captured them. I can imagine one of those games, with ten lines jumbled on the left, and ten sources jumbled on the right, would be tremendous fun.

    This reminds me of how much I miss reading with my children. I have to be careful with comments like that, because my daughter sometimes thinks that my nostalgia for her childhood means I prefer this to the wonderful,complex and competent adult she has become. But really I just think something that is fed by contact with the young is what I miss. And reading with them was one of those somethings. Though I am now reading aloud with my mother, which is an incredible experience all its own.

    The next set of quotations I am compiling, coincidentally, is quotations about reading. But first lines have a beauty all their own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paula. That would be a fantastic game. (One I might just play with my kids. Thank you!)

      For me, some of these (and children’s books) are so nostalgic that I think that may be the only reason I’m rereading them. Which is fine by me. Reading to your mother I imagine is a very different yet wonderful experience for you. (And most likely for her.)

      Yes, “first lines have a beauty all their own.” So true. But I do love that post of quotes you compiled.


  5. This reminds me how I got hooked on reading in the first place! I love to get sucked into a book. Maybe middle school authors know they have the weight of future readers on their shoulders and are extra good at first lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I love to get pulled into a story. I think you’re right about MG authors having a huge responsibility to grab children and suck them into fictional worlds and, also, hopefully keep them reading. As opposed to “grown-up” books where adults are buying and reading because they already love to read. ?


  6. There are some brilliant first lines in amongst this lot Sarah. I want to read the lot. I think that first lines are crucial. It is the first introduction to the reader of the story and if the reader can be hooked at this point they’ll continue. I just wish I could come up with some brilliant ones myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree (obviously). 😉 First lines are so important. Many would (and many have) disagreed with that but there are always differing opinions. I love to be hooked by a first line. Though… I have read brilliant first lines of a book that was not so great and boring first lines of a book that was amazing.

      P.S. I know you can come up with brilliant first lines because I’ve read your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for that. I have struggled with great first lines for my books though and am going to revisit the first chapter yet again. The first line to (if you are lucky) three paragraphs are what sells it to a publisher and maybe to a lesser extent readers. It gives me shivers though when I read great first lines.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. These are all brilliant Sarah (and my goodness, you have read so many books!!) but my favourite, the one that jumped out the most, just barely mind you, is this: “Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.” Now if only I can come up with something as good… 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! “just barely…” Right? They’re brilliant. I love MG books. And this is just a teeny tiny selection. (As for reading so many, both my boys are readers and…oh who am I kidding? Only three are theirs.) 😉


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