Monday, April 11, 2016

First Lines From the 2015 Cybils Plus . . .

This is supposed to be first lines from the 2015 Cybil Awards and wouldn't you know, the first book had no lines. This would seem to be a good year for wordless picture books. I don't love all of these first paragraphs. Why should I? We all have very different ideas of what we want to read. What's the best first line or paragraph you've read this year?

Fiction Picture Books

Sidewalk Flowersby JonArno Lawson
Groundwood Books
Nominated by: Hannah DeCamp
A distracted dad and his daughter take a walk home in this beautifully illustrated, wordless picture book. The story unfolds through a unique combination of graphic novel style format and traditional full-bleed or framed art. While the city seems drab and dark in the beginning, the little girl finds beauty around every corner. Details invite the reader to linger and pause over the pages, discovering along with the girl on her walk through the neighborhood. As she matter-of-factly shares her appreciation for things around her, color begins to spread beyond just the people and places where she distributes her finds.  Readers young and old alike will be charmed by this story of a little girl’s ability to stop and notice the weeds and her natural willingness to spread kindness in a busy, fast-paced world. The wordless aspect of the book makes it accessible to everyone, no matter what language they read or speak. 

Easy Readers
Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly (Passport to Reading, Level 3: Ling & Ting)by Grace Lin
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Heidi G.

Story 1 The Garden
Ting is in the garden. "
What are you doing?" Ling asks.
"I am planting cupcakes," Ting  says.
'Ting!"  Ling says. "You cannot plant cupcakes."

Early Chapter Books

Dory and the Real True Friend (Dory Fantasmagory)by Abby Hanlon
Dial Books
Nominated by: Sara Ralph
My name is Dory, but everyone calls me Rascal. This is my family. I have a mom, dad, big brother, and big sister who are just regular people. I also have a monster and fairy godmother who are not regular because only I can see them,

Elementary/Middle Grade


The Blackthorn Keyby Kevin Sands
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

I found it.
Master Benedict says he wasn't the least bit surprised According to him, there were several times over the past three years when he was sure I'd finally discovered it. Yet it wasn't until the day before my fourteenth birthday that it came to be so clearly, I thought God Himself had whispered in my ear.

Speculative Fiction

The Fog Diverby Joel Ross
Nominated by: PLCarpenter
After a long morning searching the woods, I spotted a school bus through the Fog. The broke windows looked like rotten teeth as I edged closer, hoping to salvage hubcaps or engine parts.


Young Adult 


Every Last Wordby Tamara Ireland Stone
Nominated by: Jennifer Donovan

Lane three. It's always lane number three. My coaches think it's funny. Quirky/ A thing, like not washing your lucky socks or growing a rally beard. And that's perfect/ That's all I want them to know.

Speculative Fiction

The Walls Around Usby Nova Ren Suma
Algonquin Young Readers
Nominated by: Esther Braithwaite
We wen wild that hot night. We howled, we raged, we screamed. We were girls - some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen and seventeen - but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cells gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men.


Cold Warrior
What could Daniel Ellsberg possibly have done to provoke such wrath - to be seen as such a threat? The story begins twenty-six years earlier, as World War II came to an end and the Cold War began. Ellsberg was just starting ninth grade at a prep school near Detroit, Michigan.
Sheinkin does it again. He's also the 2016 YALSA award winner. I read his book Bomb. The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon and adored it.

I still didn't have a picture book first line for this post. When I checked out the ALA Awards page, I fell in love with a title.  It won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award (best translation from another language.)
The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy (2015)

By Alemagna, Beatrice

I loved the title and the description and I went to LAPL tonight and placed a hold on it. (Why is my computer suddenly putting everything in title caps? I wish I could do that on purpose.)

Since I still didn't have a picture book first line from the Cybils. I am including one from the last picture book I read. A delightful read.
Han and the Mysterious Pearl by Barbara Bockman, illustrated by Carl Kocich.
Long ago in the part of China where giant finger mountains rise above the morning mist, a boy named Han lived with his mother in a little house beside the Li River. 

I am also interested in your favorite title of the year. Please feel free to comment. Write on!


  1. Han and the Mysterious Pearl sounds great. Loved seeing all the first lines. That's a great exercise to do every once in awhile to learn from good first lines.

  2. Thanks for adding HAN AND THE MYSTERIOUS PEARL to your list of first lines from Cybils; that's great company to be in.
    I love the "rotten teeth" metaphor in Joel Ross's THE FOG DRIVER. And DORY AND THE REAL TRUE FRIEND is intriguing.
    I just re-read THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS and loved it.

  3. The Fog Driver reads cool-a-lious.
    I have an autographed copy of every last word. Great book by Tamara Ireland Stone. She's a nice person.
    Foreign Correspondent


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