Monday, January 10, 2011

Answers: First lines from First Picture Books

by Susan Berger
These are the answers from the last first line post in December 2010. I was looking for first books. I wanted to see the first lines that attracted the editor to a new author.

1. Nestled in the soft earth beside the path you see a yellow spider.
Dreamweaver by Jonathan London, Illustrated by Rocco Baviera

2. Everything was just dandy till that Emily Post book showed up.
Thanks a LOT, Emily Post! by Jennifer Larue Huget, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (First book)
3. The jungle was quiet.
Suraj, the tiger cub wondered why.
Then Rassi arrived and gave him the news.
Suraj, the Tiger Cub: by Farida Mirza. Not yet published

4. My friend Lincoln says you have two dads. That’s right poppa and daddy.
A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager Iluustated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blane

5. Everyone told Lily Hippo she was too loud.
Too Loud Lily by Sofie Laguna, Illustrated by Kerry Argent

6. Beep Beep. Sheep in a jeep on a hill that’s steep
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, Illustrated by Margaret Apple (First Book)

7. Mama love to sing. Her singing was always a happy part of everyday life. But everything changed the day after my seventh birthday.
Floating on Mama’s Song by Laura Lacamara, Illustrated by Yuyi Morales (First book)

8. Pitter, patter
Plam, plam
On my window pane
The Way the Storm Stops by Michelle Meadow, illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger (First book) 

9. I took the moon for a walk last night.
I took the Moon for a walk by Carolyn Curtis, illustrated by Allison Jay. (First book)
10. Once upon a time Chicken Licken was standing around when a piece of something fell on her head.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, Iluustrated by Lane Smith.
(As best as I can determine, this was his first book. Wow!)

I will be posting new first lines soon They will include some Cybil nominees. In the meantime, here are links to the older First Line posts. Lots of good first lines in them there posts.
This was the first of the
First line posts  Nov 3, 2009
2nd first lines post Nov 9,2009.
(Oddly enough, I don't think I ever
posted an answer for these first lines.)

Dec 9. 2010 First Lines
December 15 2010 First lines
Happy Reading and Writing


  1. It's fascinating to see all of these first lines grouped this way. Great food for thought to be sure.
    I wonder how many of them (the first lines) changed over the course of writing the stories, and how many times they changed. Or are first lines something that often doesn't change?

  2. Kristin, In my experience they changes as many times as you revise the book. It's kind of like a pickup line. You are always trying to think of a better one

  3. Someone say "pickup line"? about a picture book of pickup lines.
    For example:
    "My nap towel or yours?"
    "I can spell your name in cursive."
    Pre-School Challenged

  4. lol on the pick up lines! And, good post, food for thought. I especially love Thanks A LOT, Emily Post. One of the grandson's favorites right now is Stinky Cheese Man.

    Glad to have found your blog!

  5. Pickup lines for kids! Here’s one for the picture book.

    “If you were a booger I’d pick you first.”

  6. Lee Rae,
    Sounds like a blog post. But I thought of it first. Yah huh! I did! Didn't I Sue? It's mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine...
    ...okay, I guess I can share. Drat!

  7. Another really old one for your picture book.

    “Did you just fart? Because I am blown away!”

  8. I Took the Moon for a Walk was a big hit in our house.

  9. Analyzing first lines this way is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Children! Children! Stop it! You're all pretty.
    That being said There's the ever popular "Want to see my Weenie?"

  11. Storied cities, I am glad your kids like that one.
    Have your ever read them any James Stevenson books about Grandpa? You can still get them in the library? great fun to read.

  12. Thank you so much Carmela. I am new to the Teaching author blog and I enjoy reading it.

  13. Mr. Dratful of Pen and Ink, would it be asking too much to see the first line of the book you are working on right now?

  14. Deb, thanks for your comments. My kids loved Stinky Cheese Man too. I liked Emily Post, but I haven't read it to a child.

  15. Dear Lee Rae,
    My first line?
    Whenever I go to a bookstore, my first line is "Hey baby, how about we visit the Sex & Relationships section?"

  16. I'll take that as a "No" then. Darn!

  17. "In the morning before school, Angel Comacho noticed the chalk outlines on the playground."
    Medicine Boy by Lupe Fernandez (Not published yet)

    Playing Hard to Get

  18. Gee, I didn’t have to cry or promise not to post anymore kiddie pick-up lines.

    For the picture book. “You sure have a great looking tooth.”

    Thanks Hard to Get! Can’t wait to read the whole thing!

  19. Perhaps Leeraelynne and Hard to Get should collaborate on a new book. "Best Pick Up Lines for Preschoolers". I predict a runaway hit.

    Sees All Knows All

  20. Hard to Get of Pen and Ink, it just dawned on me that chalk outlines could mean a couple of things.

    1. Hopscotch
    2. Four Square
    3. Roman Ball
    4. Tic Tac Toe
    5. A Crime Scene!

  21. This makes me miss picture books since so many lines were from those! It's always interesting to see these -- proves how much first lines matter.

  22. "A little egg lay on a leaf" (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) has been in my head for weeks now. I shared this with my nine-year-old, who could immediately name the book.

  23. I couldn't agree more. Now Back to Tasha to rewrite the first line yet AGAIN

  24. Thank you Caroline
    I followed you links and ended up at the Picture Book Challenge which we are now participating in.

  25. First lines are so important. It's fascinating to read them in a list like this. I know my first lines change right up until publication.

  26. We just got "Thanks A Lot, Emily Post!" in the library last month. the first line had me laughing out lout.
    Too Loud Lilly is a favorite at our school. I like any book that lets me yell while reading it. :)

    Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)

  27. Rebecca, thanks for your comment. I end up going back to the first line/paragraph a lot!

    That's the second comment we got mentioning Emily Post who read Emily Post. I agree with you, Jennifer. Any book that lets me yell is a good one. Have you read Moira's Birthday Party by Robert Munsch? I love that one.

  28. I just found this site; loved reading "first lines". It made me realize I need to pay more attention to how my stories begin. Thanks, Beryl

  29. Thanks Beryl. I am so glad you found us. Please come back. There is now a tab at the top of the blog which gives links to most of the first line posts. I am endlessly questing for good first line/paragraphs


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