Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Picture Book First Pages

by Susan Berger

I attended Allyn Johnston’s breakout session  “What the Heck is a Picture Book Anyway.”  These are the first pages from the books Allyn brought with her to use as examples.   Click on the images. They are linked to the books at Amazon.

The best lesson is sit and read these books. I believe you can find most of these titles at your public library.  For those of you who want a printable copy of these first pages and links, click here for the Scribd Document.

For now, note how few words are on the first page. Note the “page turns” Do you want to read on?

If you've read any of  these, please share your favorite in the comments. 

It was Kitten’s first full moon. When she saw it, she thought,
There’s a little bowl of milk in the sky.
And she wanted it.

 On the eve of your birth word of your coming passed from animal to animal.

The reindeer told the Arctic terns, who told the humpback whales, who told the Pacific salmon.

There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old either.
His house was next door to  an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there
I’m giving you two pages on this one so you can get the joke

Hello. We are Ed, Ned, Ted…and Bob.

We rhyme all the time.
We rhyme all the time.
Hey! What rhymes with car?
Far.  Jar.  Tar.  Look.

A told B,  and B told C                                    

“I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.”

A little boy planted a carrot seed.

Here is the blue sheep
  (This book is on the Horn Book Fanfare List)

Hello, little mouse.  What are you doing.

The mice made a teeter-totter.

Mrs. Spitzer is a teacher. She’s in Room 108 of Tremont. Elementary School

A star is how you know it’s almost night.
This is not yet released. I read it at the conference and loved it.  I should have bought my copy then and there.

An idea
In the winter a big snow always came to Mr. Putter’s house

I’m giving you three pages on this one
 1. In the tall tall grass.
2-3 (double page spread)
Crunch. Munch. Caterpillars lunch.
 (a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book. An ALA Noteable Best Book. A School Library Journal best Book.)

Allyn said dialog doesn’t work in picture books because it doesn’t advance the story and it’s hard to illustrate… There are exceptions to every rule.  I’m giving you pages 1-5  Read it aloud to yourself.

1 Hattie was a big black hen. One morning she looked up and said, “Goodness gracious me! I can see a nose in the bushes.”
2-3  “Good grief,” said the goose.  :Well, well,” said the pig.
4-5  “Who cares, ,” said the sheep.  “So what,” said the horse.  “What next?” said the cow.

Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough.


The first little caterpillar crawled into a bower.
This title will be released August 30th 2011 It is worth noting that on Amazon, the hardback is 11.99.  The Kindle edition is 12.99

Is Everybody Ready For Fun?
(this has not yet been released. Again note Hardcover pre order price is 9.35.  Kindle price is 12.39. I believe the days of Kindle being cheaper are gone.)
NON Fiction picture Books.  I didn’t know I liked non fiction picture books till I read these.

Rah, Rah, Radishes!
Red and White.


It was a great day for a picnic.

 (Caldecott Honor Book)


It is almost Friday night. Outside, the dark is getting darker and the cold is getting colder. Inside, the lights are coming on in houses

We’re ready to work and our tools are ready too.
Hi There. I’m Sam. I’m assuming since you opened this book that you’re in the mood to hear a story.  Well, you’re in luck, because I have a story for you. It’s a little story about this fine country of ours.  I bet you thought you’d heard ‘em all, but not many people know this one.

My granddaughter, Nasreen, lives with me in Heart, an ancient city in Afghanistan.
 Art and Music once flourished here.

Making an apple pie is really very easy.  First, get all the ingredients at the market. Mix them well, bake and serve.

Deep in the jungles of Columbia, There is a man who loves books. His name is Luis.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing these, Susan. RAH, RAH, RADISHES! by my friend April Pulley Sayre is one of my favorite nonfiction picture books ever!

  2. You're most welcome, Carmela. I loved Rah, Rah Radishes! too. Thanks to April for writing it.

  3. This was such a good way to begin a morning! Thanks for such a lush and lovely read...

  4. That's such a useful, and fun, post - thank you!

  5. This is a fantastic post! Very useful. Thanks so much.

    Topsy Turvy Land

  6. I think my favorite of the ones I've read is The Little Mouse, The Red, Ripe Strawberry, and The Big, Hungry Bear. I've read that one to lots of kids and they've all loved it.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. I've got three picture books under contract, so I enjoyed seeing all of these. I'll have to share some of these gems with my grandchildren.

  8. Thanks Nancy, Rosemary, Donna, Janet and Penny.
    A lot of these books were new to me. I want to share them with my granddaughter. Rosemary and Penny, I don't think you've ever comments her before. We appreciate your presence.

  9. Thanks. You cannot go wrong reading Kevin Henkes or Cynthia Rylant. Their books just sing. Thank you for sharing these wonderful examples.

  10. These are great! Thank you for sharing the fun with the lines from all these books. I'm always looking for new books for my grandchildren.

  11. I was kind of surprised to read this "Allyn said dialog doesn’t work in picture books because it doesn’t advance the story and it’s hard to illustrate…" and would love to hear more.

  12. Allyn didn't elaborate on this. It's one of those things that's true sometimes. People doing things are supposedly easier to illustrate than people saying things. But as you see in the Mem Fox book, this is not always true. Then there are the wonderful books that have no words or very few words. Chalk, Rain and Tuesdays.

  13. Great post showing what works for pb first pages. I have a few of Kevin Henkes.

    Thanks for sharing.

  14. It must have been a great breakout session. Thanks for sharing.


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