Monday, June 30, 2014

First Line/paragraphs from Crystal Kite Finalists Part 3

by Susan J Berger

The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. This post covers the finalists and winners in New England, New York and Texas/Oklaholma. All links are to the SCBWI page. You can follow the page links to purchase sites.

Again . . The Crystal Kite is a rather odd award in that there are no Categories. Therefore a picture book may be competing against a young adult novel.

New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island) 

All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry
You didn’t come. I waited all evening in the willow tree with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.

Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski

Sharp ocean air raced around my bedroom before I slammed the window shut and headed downstairs.
My big sister Nancy called out to me. “Are you going for a walk by yourself again?” She swung her dark glossy ponytail over one straight shoulder.
            I nodded as I stooped to pull on my boots.

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden

The shrinkadinks think I have a screw loose. Ain’t playing with a full deck. Whacked-out wiring. Missing Marbles.
I love this voice. Dear Life You Suck  just joined my TBR list.
Living With Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Part One
A true Karate man
 is one with a godlike capacity
 to think and feel for others;
irrespective of their rank or position
-Gitchen Funakoshi (1868-1957)

When Caleb, Dave and I pull up at my uncle’s apartment building, a wave of sickness rolls up my throat and threatened to spew across Caleb’s dashboard. I will back it down. Breathe. The car idles at the curb, waiting for me to get out. Caleb leans forward and peers up at the building as if it’s the first time he’s seen one taller than four stories. 

Monster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak, Illustrated by Wendy Grieb
Monster needs a costume for his favorite time of year.
“It’s nearly Halloween,” he roared. “The day is almost here!”

When Rivers Burned by Linda Brennan, Illustrated by Lisa Greenleaf The story behind Earth Day
Once, in America citizens were sickened by smog; pesticides wiped out wildlife in towns, fields, and forests, and the rivers were dirty enough to burn.

When Rivers Burned had no preview on Amazon, nor is it available at the LAPL. But I want to read it! Its cover shows five awards. I contacted Linda and asked for the first line and she graciously sent it to me.


The Story of Fish & Snail Written and Illustrated by Deborah Freedman
Every day . . . Snail sits in one special spot, waiting for Fish to come home with a story.

New York

Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Today I heard a pinecone fall.
I smell a spicy breeze.
I see Forest Wildly waving
Rows of friendly trees.
I’m here.
Come visit.
Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde
The Art of Being a Princess
The Foreward.
(Are you kidding? Nobody reads the foreword.)
“One should always strive,” Princess Imogene read in The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition) “to be the sort of princess about whom it is said: ’She was as good as she was beautiful.’”
            “Ugh,” Princess Imogene said. She slammed the book shut – hating it already based on the first sentence.

  I put a hold on this one at the library. Must read.


Crankenstein! by Samantha Berger, Illustrated by Dan Santat

 Texas, Oklahoma

Ball Written and Illustrated by Mary Sullivan


This hilarious one word book (repeated a lot) is an ode to a dog’s one track mind. A Theodore Geisel Honor book, Ball is a delight and proves that a word is worth a thousand pictures.

Happy Birthday, Bunny! by Liz Garton Scanlon
“What are these and what are those?”
“Fancy shoes and party clothes!”
Liz Garton Scanlon wrote All The World, one of my favorite picture books. The SCBWI bookstore did not have a "buy link" so I used Amazon.

Nugget & Fang by Tammi Sauer Illustrated by Michael Slack
1+1 = 2
Minnows = Shark lunch.
This is what Nugget is learning in minnow school. And this is why Fang is losing his best friend. Yes, Fang is a shark. He does have big sharp teeth. And he will convince Nugget that they can still be friends.
If he doesn’t, then . . .
2 - 1 = 1 lonely Fang
In the deep, deep ocean lived two best friends. Nugget and Fang. They did everything together.

The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler

When Kate Poole was twelve, her body had folded easily into the medium’s throne. Her limbs had been shorter, her joints more elastic. In those days she stayed cool and supple while waiting for the hymns to end.

Fascinated, I read the rest of the available preview on Amazon. I downloaded it from the LAPL.
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
The First Night
From the rooftop of Information Headquarters Bingo and J’miah stood on their back paws and watched Little Mama and Daddy-O trundle away; their stripy gray and black silhouettes grew smaller and smaller in the deepening duck.
            Daddy-O called out, “Make us proud, boys!”
            That was followed by Little Mama. “Be sure to follow orders!”


Army Camels: Texas Ships of the Desert by Doris Fisher

"Raise the gangplank," ordered Captain Porter. "All the camels are loaded. It's
time to set sail for Texas. Camels, ho!"

I couldn't find the first line so I wrote to Doris Fisher and she kindly supplied it. This on is on my must read list.

I hope you find some of your own “must reads” here. Happy reading and writing, my friends.

You might also like First Lines From Crystal Kites - California/Hawaii and the West

And First Lines From the Crystal Kites - Southwest and Midwest


  1. Thanks, Susan. How kind of you to provide us with this inspiration.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Barbara. Thanks for stopping buy.

  2. Hi Susan,
    Impossible task...
    so many books, so few hours in the day.
    How am I to read them all
    and still do my own.
    thanks for sharing.

    1. Loved your post this week. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Donna, Actually I found more than three I wanted to read. I love meeting these books.

  4. Thanks for this post! These wonderful first lines all seem to point me in the same direction... My local bookstore!

    1. I hope you find the ones that peak your interest. I had to order When Rivers Burned online.

  5. Terrific post, as usual, Sue! Thanks.

  6. What a wonderful list. And powerful first paragraphs too. I truly enjoyed looking through them. :)

    1. Thank you for reading, Myra. Hope I added to you TBR list

  7. It is always interesting to see what wins in different regions. There are a couple I don't recognize and will need to check them ou.

    1. I plan to do all the Kite Finalists. It's certainly added to my reading list. Thanks for stopping by, Alyson


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