November 20, 2010

Some Great First Lines from Picture Books

What's the difference between a good book and a great book? It's usually in the first line. Just like writing a novel, writer's have the challenge to hook the reader from the very first word, the very first sentence, and the very first page. It's especially important in a picture book, to grab the attention of young readers from the first page. There are only so many words to introduce the characters and write an interesting story. Every word must be golden.

Where do you start? Do you write a detailed account of the characters? Do you start writing in the middle of the action? Take a look at a few of these brilliant first lines, which are so well recognised that some people will be able to tell you what the book is called, just from hearing the first line. It may change the way that you write the opening to your next picture book.

See if you can guess the picture books. The answers will be at the bottom of this post.

1. The night Max wore a wolf suit and cause mischief of one kind..... or another.

2. In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.

3. Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!

4. One day, on the banks of a billabong, a very clever dingo caught a wombat.

5. Right in the middle of Bertha Bear's party, just as she was about the cake.

6. Down by the river in the heat of the day the crocodile sleeps and awaits his prey.

7. David was frightened of the sea. It was a huge, wet monster that gobbled him up, knocked him over, turned him upside down.

8. Once upon a time, but not very long ago, deep in the Australian bush lived two possums. Their names were Hush and Grandma Poss.

9. One afternoon at the zoo, clouds as big as dinosaurs stomped across the sky and roared!

10. The farmyard cat was out walking. She was very, very, hungry.

How did you go? Did you guess any? Here are the answers:

1. Where The Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
3. Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Dr. Suess
4.Wombat Stew
Marcia K. Vaughan
5. Gotcha!
Gail Jorgensen
6. Crocodile Beat
Gail Jorgensen
7. There's a Sea in my Bedroom
Margaret Wild
8. Possum Magic
Mem Fox
9. Bim Bam Boom!
Margaret Wild
10. The Farmyard Cat
Christine Anello


Kristi's Book Nook said...

This is a great post.

Unknown said...

Thanks Kristi for visiting my blog. :-)

Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Renee,
I got six books right. I remembered reading them to year 1 and 2... Great Post. Cheers, Karen :))

Liz said...

Hello, I just love this post! I'm so happy to have found your blog. I love the title - Books for Little Hands - adorable.

Here's one of my favorites - On the fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool, In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool....

Unknown said...

Hey Liz,
Thanks you for your kind comments. It's lovely to have you visit! What's the book called you mentioned? It's a challenge to get the beginnings and endings sorted. I find the ending in writing picture book's harder. Like a great movie or a book that you don't want to put down, I believe the first few sentences-or words in picture books, really make it.

Liz said...

It's from Horton Hears a Who. The minute I read those lines I knew that I loved it!

Unknown said...

Yes,I love the beginning of Cat in the Hat.