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?


18 thoughts on “First Lines: Picture Books

  1. Oh! I’ve read a couple of these, but as a child myself, not to my children. Funny… I just did a children’s book post today – in part inspired by you, although I’d been wanting to do one for a while. I love the openings of these… I’ll have to look up the ones I haven’t read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! 🙂 I’m noticing as I write these posts that there is a certain thread that runs through the different age groups. The books themselves are so varied but I think you’re right. Still…I love them.


  2. Thank you for the dedication, Sarah, and for listing your favourite first lines: picture books. I can’t believe you posted this on Monday and I am just reading it now. I am way behind in my reading and responding this week! 😦 Sad to say I haven’t read all the books you list. I have much more reading to do. The uniqueness of each beginning is interesting. Sometimes we say to children that stories start, “Once upon a time …” That is obviously overly simplistic and not really truthful. Thank you for showing the magnificence of opening moments. I think we have many wonderful Australian picture books that you may not be familiar with. I’ll seek out some and possibly do a reply post. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a lot of “Once upon a time” openings, aren’t there? They’re kind of nostalgic. 🙂 Well, there are some that are more creative, too. I’d love to see some Australian picture books. Note that these lines represent a tiny fraction of what we have. My kids haven’t grown out of them (and neither have we) and I’m so glad.
      No worries. I’m catching up on posts myself and can’t seem to ever keep up with them. :-/

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know. There’s too much to read! But I am pleased you drew my attention to this one. I would be sad if I had missed it. I don’t think I’ve looked at your YA ones yet! I’ll try to remember to do the Australian picture books. I have written it on a list. But whether I ever get to that list is another thing! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs,…..” Tales of Pooh by A.A.Milne, illustrated by E.H Shepard
    My first book, had me hooked!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes. That’s a great one. Love A.A. Milne. ❤ We have a few collections of the Tales of Pooh here. Those and Dr. Seuss both had me reading as a little one. I loved them so. 🙂 Any book that hooks a reader young is a good one. Younger readers are usually lifelong readers.


  4. Pingback: A celebration of Australian picture books | Norah Colvin

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