Posted tagged ‘Hooks’

First Lines in Picture Books

June 27, 2019

First lines in books are extremely important. They provide a hint of what is to come in the pages that follow. They can tell readers who the main character is, what the problem or conflict is, or where the story is taking place. First lines are a golden ticket to a journey through a book.

Let’s take a look at some first lines in picture books.

 

sophieFrom Sophie’s Squash written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

One bright fall day, Sophie choose a squash at the farmer’s market.

Her parents planned to serve it for supper, but Sophie had other ideas.

Here the first lines reveal the time of year, the main character, and the fact that the squash would not be served at supper. What will Sophie do with the squash? Turn the page and read.

 

hedgehogFrom Hedgehog Needs a Hug written and illustrated by Jen Betton

When Hedgehog awoke in his cozy nest, he felt down in the snout and droopy in the prickles. I’ll feel better if I get a hug, he thought.

These first lines introduce us to the main character and his wants and needs. Included in these lines are playful descriptions that will surely delight readers.

 

hatFrom This Is Not My Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen

This hat is not mine. I just stole it. 

These are definitely not typical first lines in a story. They elicit surprise and reveal a problem which makes readers want to know what’s going to happen next.

 

house onceFrom A House That Once Was written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith

Deep in the woods

is a house

just a house

that once was

but now isn’t a home.

Here the first lines introduce readers to the setting deep in the woods. In this case, the main character happens to be a house that now “isn’t a home.” These lines create a sense of curiosity. Why isn’t the house a home anymore? What happened? Readers will want to turn the pages to find out more.

 

lighthouseFrom Hello Lighthouse written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

On the highest rock of a tiny island

at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse.

It is built to last forever.

Sending its light out to sea,

guiding the ships on their way.

The first line captures the attention of readers, revealing where this story takes place —”the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world…”  Imagine that! The line, “It is built to last forever,” suggests many keepers of the lighthouse have tended the light, keeping ships safe. As the weather and seasons change, “Hello! …Hello! …Hello!” is repeated throughout the story, inviting readers to learn more about the lighthouse and its inhabitants.

 

When creating your masterpiece, hook readers immediately with your first lines and keep them turning the pages!

 

 

 

 

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In the Beginning – Thoughts on Writing

October 15, 2015

As a writer, I find the first page of a picture book to be the most challenging to write. The words you choose to put there are critical. You want to hook your readers immediately and keep them turning the pages. In a picture book, every single word counts. Waste not, want not.

Below are a few examples of beginnings from picture books that kept me turning the pages.

CLICK, CLACK, MOO COWS THAT TYPE written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

“Farmer Brown has a problem.

His cows like to type.

All day long he hears

Click, clack, moo.

Click, clack, moo.

Clickety, clack, moo.”

My thoughts:  Right away the reader knows the farmer has a problem – cows that type. How? Why? Turn the page to find out.

THE BOSS BABY written and illustrated by Marla Frazee, Beach Lane Books.

“From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss.”

My thoughts:  A baby that’s the boss. I like that! The beginning sentence and Frazee’s humorous illustrations entice the reader to turn the page and read more.

THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS written by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton and illustrated by Christine Davenier, Little, Brown and Company.

“Hi! I’m Geraldine.

I’m a fairy princess.

You may not believe me, but I can tell you that I AM.”

My thoughts:  I like this character. She’s upbeat and bold. I want to see why she says she’s a fairy princess. Turn the page.

TOUGH CHICKS written by Cece Meng and illustrated by Melissa Suber, Clarion Books.

“From the moment Mama Hen’s eggs burst open, she knew she was dealing with some pretty tough chicks.”

My thoughts:  Little chicks chip away at their shells, they don’t burst out. What mischief are these tough chicks up to? Turn the page to find out.

The combination of the right words and the creativity of the illustrator can result in a fabulous picture book.

Do you have favorite beginnings that you’d like to share?


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