Monday, October 7, 2013

First Lines from Richard Peck's
SCBWI Breakout Session

By Susan J Berger

The are the first lines Richard Peck gave as examples in his Breakout session. I linked the titles to Amazon. I use Amazon because of the  Look Inside feature. But you can find all of them at IndieBound or your local library.

The cat had a party to attend and went to the baboon to get groomed.
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk A modern Bestiary by David Sedaris.

School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it.

Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Balthazar by Claudia Grey

The shaft of the arrow was black and fletched with crow feathers, but Hylas couldn't see the head because it was buried in his arm.
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver

Our Hamster is running but he'll never get elected.
Amelia Bedelia's First Vote by Harman Parish.

Will Sparrow was a liar and a thief and hungry.ill Sparrow's Road  by Karen Cushman.

I want a refund from
Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Minutes after the shootings, everyone's cell phone rang. We weren't supposed to have cellphones unless we had a note from our parents explaining why they had to reach us in a hurry/

After by Francine Prose

When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Richard Peck writes wonderful first lines. Here is his latest:

We who live in The Royal Mews next door to Buckingham Palace-horses, humans, mice, one cat, a cow for the milk, and the occasional goat-were in the service of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Queen of England and Empress of India.
The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck

I hope some of these lines inspire you to pick up the book.
Happy reading and writing.


  1. Hi Sue, I love these first lines from Richard Peck. He had to cancel out of our local SCBWI conference, due to illness, so I missed seeing him in person. It's also thrilling to hear of your travels. I used to love traveling before I had pets and a daughter. Now I'm mostly a stay-at-home and that's okay for now.

    1. Thanks Penny. Raising kids is the biggest adventure of all.

  2. Don't you love those first lines? And the second lines and the third and . . . . All you have to do is repeat and soon you have a wonderful book. If it were only that easy. Thanks for sharing this. Hope you have lots of fodder for books from your trip. Safe travels, Sue.

    1. We all wish it were that easy. Thanks for commenting, Judy.

  3. Speaking of our most beloved author and friend, my school picked Richard Peck's A Season of Gifts for this Fall's Book Club pick. As you recall, I wrote a piece a week or so ago about kid centered book clubs. Our Principal started this last year and we chose, The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts. It was a smash and over 100 kids signed up and were able to meet the author when she visited our school.

    We announced A Season of Gifts last Monday at our Second Annual Book Expo. Our Principal read an excerpt and she now has over 105 kids in the club, ranging from K-6th grade.

    Tomorrow is our first discussion group before school for K-2nd grade and we have many eager kids.

    I plan to write a blog post about this, so do come back in a few and chime in!!!


    1. I love Season of Gifts and I am so glad they chose that one. Give my copy of Hero's Guide to Saving the Kingdom to Victoria to read and then to Sam

  4. Thanks Susan, Now I'll have to pick up a few of these to refresh!

  5. Hi Sue-- Although I love anything David Sedaris, I have to say that my favorite is definitely Gordon Korman's "I want a refund from". That one made me laugh out loud. Many thanks to Mr. Peck and you for bringing us these from the SCBWI Summer conference workshop!

    1. Yeah I need to read Ungifted. That first line is wonderful.

  6. What a fabulous list of openers - many thanks for showing us what it takes!

    1. You write some good ones yourself, Rosemary. Thank you for commenting.


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