Children's Book Week - Part II [Including a Helpful Hint]

I give an old Ivory soap guarantee of 99 44/100% for selecting a really good children’s book – or adult book for that matter. My students used to pick books by looking at covers, checking the number of pages, or glancing through illustrations. Adults sometimes use the same methods, along with reading the inside flap or the blurbs on the back, or checking reviews. None of these work as often as reading the first line. I seriously can’t remember a time when an outstanding first line failed to precede a book worth reading. Today’s blog has first lines from books that live up to the guarantee.

•    There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned by the side of the road. [The Underneath by Kathi Apelt]

•    My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes, and I came back with a dog. [Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo]

•    When Jeff Greene was in second grade, seven and a half years old, he came home one Tuesday afternoon in early March, and found a note from his mother, saying she had gone away and would not be coming back. [A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt]

•    My mother died praying on her knees. [Keeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt]

•    I am running. That’s the first thing I remember. [Milkweed by Jerry Spinnelli]

•    Gramps says I am a country girl at heart, and that is true. [Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech]

•    “Eh, Tree-ear! Have you hungered well today?” [A Single Shard by Linda Sue Parks]

•    “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo lying on the rug. [Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott]

•    It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. [The Giver by Lois Lowry]

•    “Gilly,” said Miss Ellis with a shake of her long blonde hair toward the passenger in the back seat. “I need to feel that you are willing to make some effort.” [The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson]

•    It all started the day Grampa Joji decided to wash his precious flag of Japan and hang it out on the clothesline for the whole world to see. [Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury]

•    Books are door shaped portals carrying me across oceans and centuries, helping me feel less alone. [The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engel]

•    When the carriage turned onto Stone Street, it looked as though the house was watching. [Jade Green by Phyllis Naylor]

•    12th of September
I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That’s all there is to say. [Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman]

I finish with my all-time favorite first line by the master of writing first lines:

•    If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it. [The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck]

Celebrate Children’s Book Week by reading a children’s book or buying one for a child – or both. You can’t go wrong if you select one with an engaging first line.