Monday, August 4, 2014

First Line/paragraphs from Crystal Kite Finalists Part 4

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 the Atlantic, Mid South and Southeast regions. It's interesting to note that most of the Crystal Kite finalist's books are available on Kindle. 
Some first lines weren't available online, but I was able to contact Timothy Young and Rhonda Hicks Rucker and they gave me their first lines.
I have no first lines for My Blue is Happy, but it felt wrong leaving out any of the finalists. I used the SCBWI Blurb in place of the first lines for that book. 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.

 Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)

City Cat by Kate Banks, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Wake up, City Cat. It’s dawn.

Watch the day put clothing on in city colors,

Brown black, rust and gray.
The pictures show a cat going through the landmarks of Europe. Looks like great fun.
I Hate Picture Books! Written and Illustrated by Timothy Young

I Hate Picture Books! I never want to read another Picture Book! So I’m getting rid of ALL of them . . . ‘cause all they do is get me in TROUBLE. 

I couldn’t find the first page, so I searched for Timothy Young on Facebook and he sent me a PDF of the book. I loved it so much that I wrote a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I love Timothy’s sense of humor and his illustrations.

Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman, Illustratrated by Keith Campbell

Cub was playing in the woods then he smelled something delicious. He followed his nose through the bushes and found . . .Cookies! And another bear.

The Monstore by Tara Lazar, Illustrated by James Burks

At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gumballs, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside THE MONSTORE.

Oh yes!  Want to read this one.  Thanks to Tara for sending me the first page.

“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.

This one’s on my TBR list. It was also a 2014 Cybil nominee



Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

Prologue: The Sometime Long Ago Root of Revenge.

“Help me – help!” A weary voice from outside. A fist hammering on the door.

            The boy turned from the fire and the potion he was stirring. Who would call at this hour, before dawn had yet dusted the town rooves? He ran to the door and flung it open.

 The author put me in a far-gone time with that one phrase “before dawn had yet dusted the town rooves.” I kept reading the preview and it’s definitely on my TBR list.  

 Mid-South (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana)

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
Chapter 1
A Siamese cat crouched on a tree branch, peering down at Gaby with brilliant blue eyes. It cried out. The cat was stuck in the tree in front of her house and, as luck would have it, she had on the nicest sweater she owned. Gaby pulled the cardigan sweater tighter around her. This was her last good school sweater until who-knows-when her father would have enough money to buy her a new one. The poor cat cried again. Gaby looked back at her small yellow house. If her mother were here, that cat would already be out of the tree and purring – safe and sound in her mother’s arms.

I read on. Another TBR.  My reading list is expanding beyond my ability to keep up.
Ice Cream Soup by Ann Ingalls  (This is a level one reader)

Look at me.

Look at What I can make.

I can make and Ice Cream cake

Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos

When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd: He had a mustache.

What does this mean?” his mother asked.

Well, it all depends,” the nurse said. “You’ll have to wait and see whether it’s a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache.”

Yes! Must read.
My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young

Follow one girl’s journey through her neighborhood as she explores what colors mean to different people. ls red angry, like a dragon’s burning breath? Or brave like a fire truck and a superhero cape? ls pink pretty or annoying? What about black and orange and green? ln her picture-book debut, author and art teacher Jessica Young challenges common assumptions about colors and celebrates individual perspective. Brazilian-born artist Catia Chien provides her own interpretation in this ode to colors—and the unique ways we experience them.

Swing Low, Sweet Harriet by Rhonda Hicks Rucker
Chapter 1: Rebel Rumors
South Carolina, 1863

Big Mama stood at the table, stirring cornbread batter. Ben tiptoed along the rear of the cabin, turned the handle of the back door, and opened it. Creeakk!! 
“Yes’m.” He had forgotten to grease those hinges.
“You finished out in that barn?”
“You sure?”
“Where you going now?”
Here it comes. “Thought I’d go fishing for a spell.”
Big Mama quit stirring the batter for several seconds. She turned and looked at Ben. “Remember there’s cottonmouths and gators out there.”
“I remember.” Big Mama was always worried about the swamp creatures.
“Well you just mind yourself and be careful, you hear?”
That was easier than he thought. Maybe she realized he was getting older, or maybe she just wanted some fish to cook. 
He dug out his line and pole from the shed and made his way to the Combahee River. There were still a couple of hours of daylight left, and he might get lucky.

 Thanks to Rhonda for sending the first page. Love her style. Another TBR

The 13th Sign by Kristin Tubb

Sagittarius: Your bubbly personality and effervescent style make you a shoo-in for “Most Likely to Be the Center of Attention at a Party. Straighten that tiara, flash those pearly whites and dance for your admirers, superstar.’”

Madame Beausoleil finished reading my horoscope form the ancient book in her lap. She raised her gaze to mine. Madame’s eyes were foggy with age, though she claimed her cloudy eyes helped her to “see.”

I am going to assume this teaser from the SCBWI Website was also part of her query letter. I would personally have asked for the ms.
What if there was a 13th zodiac sign? You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign. Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s. What about the rest of the world? What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change, and infuriating the other 12 signs? 

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend upon it.

Southeast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)

Anubis Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Greetings, Mortal. Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Anubis – the Egyptian god of the “Mysteries of Embalming,” the “Guardian of the Veil of Death,” Opener of the Ways of the Dead,” and if you are “bad” . . .Your. Worst. Nightmare.

Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes

“Thus, a strain of gentle music, or the rippling of water in a silent place, or the odor of a flower, or the mention of a familiar word, will sometimes call up sudden dim remembrances of scenes that never were . . .”

-Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist


I should be used to this by now – the emptiness that fills me when I become homeless for the stretch of a car ride. I’ve don’t this more times than I can count. But the truth is that it sucks. Every Time.

Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals by Heather Montgomery

Dear Explorer

Scientists have identified almost one million different animals creeping, peeking and sneaking across this earth! That number blows my mind. When I realized that there may be as many as six million new one waiting to be discovered – and that they are all a bit wacky –I couldn’t wait to write this book!


The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock


Sometimes when the kerosene lamp casts shadows, I think I see Ma’s ghost. If she were still alive she’d say, Jessie Pearl, you keep on studying. Not everybody is cut out to be a farm wife. We’ll find a way to pay for teachers college. Leave your pa to me.

 I hope you find some of your own “must reads” here. Happy reading and writing, my friends.
You might also be interested in the other Regional 2014 Crystal Kites posts:


  1. Hi Sue, I really appreciate the trouble you go to to post these "teasers." It's lovely of you to tempt us like this. Thank you. Enjoy your trip. Penny (

    1. Thanks, Penny. I need your address. I owe you a gift certificate.

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  3. Lovely post! Shannon Hitchcock, winner of this area, is in my Tampa critique group, so I'm a bit jaded! Love this post!

    1. Thanks Nancy. I look forward to when you are the winner!


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