Monday, November 9, 2009

First Lines with Titles and Authors

by Sue Berger

These are the New York Times best sellers first lines from last week. I have added the title and the author.

.OTIS, written and illustrated by Loren Long.

“There was once a friendly little tractor.
 ROBOT ZOT!, by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by David Shannon
“Robot Zot. Wham Bot! Robot Zot. Bam Bot!”
Listen to The Wind by Greg Mortenson, Illustrator Susan Roth

“We are the children of Korphe. We live in a village in the mountains of Pakistan. Our families grow and gather the food we eat.”
Marley Goes to School by John Grogan. Illustrator Richard Crowley

“It was the first day of School and Cassie laid out her back-to-school supplies”
Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library by Vicky Myron and Brett Witter. Illustrator Steve James

“Every night people left books in the return box in the small town of Spencer, Indiana. Funny books, big books, truck books, pig books – they left them all. But one night, on the coldest night of the year, someone left a strange surprise…A kitten.”
Strega Nona’s Harvest written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola.

“It was Spring and all the snow had melted.”
(Well the author does not need a good first line. Strega Nona is already famous.)
Goldilicious written and illustrated Victoria Kann.

“I was putting flowers on the mane of my pet unicorn.”
Skippyjon Jones Lost in Spice written and illustrated by Judy Schachner

"Skippyjon Jones was nuts about Mars…"
Family Huddle by Peyton, Eli, and Archie Manning. Illustrator Jim Madsen.

"Archie was in the front yard in New Orleans playing with his three sons: Cooper, Peyton, and Eli. It was Peyton’s turn at their favorite game, Amazing Catches"
THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins

“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.”
THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT, by Kate DiCamillo and Yoko Tanaka.

“At the end of the Century before last, in the market square in the city of Bahese, there stood a boy with a hat on his head and a coin in his hand.”
TRICKS, by Ellen Hopkins.

“A poem by Eden Streit
Eyes Tell Stories

But do they know how
to craft fiction? Do
they know how to spin

“There was a boy called Odd and there was nothing strange or unusual about that, not in that time or place. Odd meant the tip of a blade and it was a lucky name.”
SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater

“I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves. “
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Dave McKean.

“There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.”
SENT, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. (This is a sequel)
“Jonah was falling, tumbling over and over, down and down through nothingness and absence and void.”
GOING BOVINE, by Libba Bray.

“The best day of my life happen when I was five and almost died at Disney World. I am sixteen now so you can imagine that left me with quite a few days of major suckage. “

Here are some more first lines. (and, in some cases, first paragraphs.) You can guess the age range and the author.One of these is a ringer. It is from a book that has not been published yet.

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

2. "If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it."

3. "I have been accused of being anal retentive, an over-achiever, and a compulsive perfectionist, like those are bad things."

4. "I come from a family with a lot of dead people"

5. Let me tell you about my angels

6. My mama had a dancing heart and she shared that heart with me.

7. At morning recess, Angel Camacho hid behind a great oak tree and longed for Georgina Cabrillo to notice him.

8. Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do.

9. “Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski always gave good answers. Whenever she was asked how she had selected her team for the Academic Bowl, she chose one of several good answers.”

10. I thought he’d never leave.


  1. "Each Little Bird That Sings" is one of my favorite books - and one of my all-time favorite opening lines. :)

  2. I'm currently reading Tricks by Ellen Hopkins.


  3. I like Number 7 from the unpublished list. That writer's got talent.

    Secret Admirer


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