Monday, March 31, 2014

First lines from the 2014 Cybil Award Books

by Susan J Berger

I wanted to do a first line post. First, my gratitude to the internet which permits me to do the research and to Amazon's Look Inside feature which allows me to copy the first lines into my post without leaving home. The title links are to Amazon so that you, too, may read further and decide if you want to buy or borrow the book from the library.

Next my gratitude to The Los Angeles Public Library whose on-line service enables me to place holds on books I want and/or order books electronically.

These first lines are from The 2014 Cybil winners.

Picture Books

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown

Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger.

I love this.

Easy Reader

It was a busy day at City Hospital. Doctor Glenda was writing something important on the wall chart. Nurse Percy was helping someone in a red coat who was crying because she couldn’t find her grandma.

Not so much.  Three. Count them. Three was ­__ing in the first paragraph? Not a great example for an easy reader.

Easy Chapter Books

Horror (scary tales) by James Preller

“Wake up, Liam. We’re here,” Mr. Finn whispered from the driver’s seat. “Our new home.”

            The eight year old boy rubbed his eyes, groggy from the long drive. He looked out the car window, blinking into the dark. “What time is it?”

            Around midnight,” his father said. “you three have been crashed out for hours. Home Sweet

Since this is admittedly a horror story, I would read on to find the horror

Speculative Fiction

Of the first few hauntings I investigated with Lockwood & Co. I intend to say little, in part to protect the identity of the victim, in part because of the gruesome nature of the incidents, but mainly because, in a variety of ingenious ways, we succeeded in messing them all up.

Wow. Try saying that all in one breath. I believe the author thought the editor was sure to read the first sentence and wanted to make it count.

Middle Grade Fiction

Ultra by David Carroll

Mile O

QUINN: I still don’t get why it was such a big deal. All the kids like to run. Go to any schoolyard. You’ll see kids playing tag, soccer, capture-the-flag . . .All those games involve running.

SYDNEY WATSON WALTERS: The difference is, most kids run for 10 or 15 minutes. Not for 24 hours straight like you.  

This turns out to be a kind of preface. I read on to find out why someone would run for 24 hours. Sounds like a book I might like.

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

The SummerPrince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

 When I was eight, my papai took me to the park to watch a king die.

I love this opening. What a great first sentence. Naturally I read on to find out what happened. If you like the sentence, click the link and read on yourself.

YA Fiction

“Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.”

            A kid named Vanessa tells me this in the morning before school. She springs out with no warning and blocks my way, her textbook held at her chest like a shield. She’s tall like me and caramel. I’ve seen her in the lunchroom, I think. Or maybe in the halls. It’s hard to remember.

I have to read this one. She had me at the name.

This is a bit short so I’ll add three from NY Times Best Seller List from the week of March 25th

 The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate


I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

I've been told by several friends this is a wonderful book. It's definitely one I want to read.

A Long Walk toWater by Linda Sue Park

Southern Sudan 2008

Going was easy.

            Going, the big Plastic Container held only air. Tall for her eleven years, Nya could switch the handle form on hand to the other, swing the container by her side, or cradle it in both arms. She could even drag it behind her, bumping it against the ground and raising a tiny cloud of dust with each step.

I've met Linda Sue Park at the SCBWI Summer conference. I am so delighted to see her on the best seller list.

One last Book.
Journey by Aaron Becker

This book had no words It’s a story in pictures. It’s 4 on the picture book Best Seller List and a 2014 Caldecott Honor book. I love picture books with no words. So I wanted to call it to your attention.

Happy reading and writing.


  1. Terrific post! I too was intrigued by Yaqui Delgado. The book cover had me before I even read the first line. Adore picture books without words, really gets the creative juices flowing!


    1. Thanks, Donna. I've put Yacqui Delagdo and the One and Only Ivan on hold at the library. Can't wait.

  2. I looove these first lines. I love first lines so much I actually bought this book called 1001 First lines. INteresting read!. I"m not doing the A-Z this year, so I won't be blogging everyday. :) Thanks for dropping by my blog Susan!


    1. Thanks for dropping by here. 1001 First lines? Yikes! If you are interested, there's a tab at the top with links to other first line posts.

  3. I love the books from which you've used first lines. Yes, A Long Walk to Water is superb and so worth the reading! Thanks, Susan!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. So glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Long Walk to Water interests me. I will put it on my read list.

    1. And when you are finished, lend it to me.

  5. Great post! Will pick up those I haven't already read. And do read The One and Only Ivan. It's brilliant and moving!

    1. I've already put ti on hold. Thanks for dropping by, Pat.

  6. Hi Sue, I like your first line postings. (I may copy you and post some myself!) Of these I've only read is "The One and Only Ivan," which wasn't at all what I thought, but was truly wonderful.) I also love the digital library, though lately I've bought some classics to share with my students.

    1. I just finished the One and Only Ivan and I agree. It was great!


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