Every month, I check out 31 recently published picture books and share their first lines.
Elements of a great first line:
*makes the reader wonder something
*sets the scene of the story
*sets the tone for the story
*hints at the how the story will end
*starts in the middle of the action
*hints at a universal theme
*introduces the main character and their problem (bonus points if the character is particularly unusual)
by Kate McMullan, art by Sujean Rim
First line: Here's a message for school bus riders heading out on a cold dark morning... (complete sentence spans 7 pages)
LIFE WITH MY FAMILY
by Renee Hooker and Karl Jones, art by Kathryn Durst
First line: Life with my family is not always easy.
THE PIANO RECITAL
by Akiko Miyakoshi
First line: Today is Momo's very first piano recital.
by Pat Zietlow Miller and art by Jean Kim
First line: One cold, grey day, Elliott's mother called him inside.
by Dave Cameron, art by David Huyck
First line: Leaf and Lou lived in a colony at the foot of a tall cherry tree.
by Thierry Lenain, art by Olivier Tallec
First line: A child sat on his island, looking out at the world and thinking.
'OHANA MEANS FAMILY
by Ilima Loomis, art by Kenard Pak
First line: This is the poi for our 'ohana's lu'au.
PRIYA DREAMS OF MARIGOLDS & MASALA
by Meena Patel
First line: This house is on a small street in a small city in the United States.
HOW TO LIGHT YOUR DRAGON
by Didier Levy, art by Fred Benaglia
First line: Can't breathe fire?
by Marcie Colleen, art by Emma Yarlett
First line: Orville was small.
WHAT DOES LITTLE CROCODILE SAY?
by Eva Montanari
First line: The alarm clock goes ring, ring.
by Matt Phelan
First line: Turtle walk. Nice and slow. (first page) Here we go. (second page)
TIME FOR KENNY
by Brian Pinkney
First line: It is time for Kenny to get dressed for the day.
THE TREE IN ME
by Corinna Luyken
First line: The tree in me...(full sentence spans six spreads)
THAT'S MY CARROT!
by Il Sung Na
First line: I love carrots.
STANDING ON HER SHOULDERS: a celebration of women
by Monica Clark-Robinson, art by Laura Freeman
First line: Come sit with us, child, we have stories to tell.
OUT OF NOWHERE
by Chris Naylor Ballesteros
First line: Once, I had a friend.
OLIVER, THE CURIOUS OWL
by Cad Otis
First line: The owl family had everything they needed in their big tree.
by Trinity and DeShanna Neal, art by Art Twink
First line: Trinity and her siblings played in the warm morning sunlight.
LITTLE TACO TRUCK
by Tanya Valentine, art by Jorge Martin
First line: In a busy corner of the big city, new buildings began to rise.
LET ME SLEEP SHEEP!
by Meg Mckinlay, art by Leila Rudge
First line: Amos was counting himself to sleep.
by Ann Patchett, art by Robin Preiss Glasser
First line: On the farm there was a flock of lambs who believed the sun came up in the morning because they were ready to get up and play and set at night because they were sleepy and ready for bed.
I LOVE MY FANGS
by Kelly Leigh Miller
First line: I love my fangs!
I FEEL TEAL
by Lauren Rille, art by Aimee Sicuro
First line: You're pink.
HAROLD SNIPPERPOT'S BEST DISASTER EVER
by Beatrice Alemagna
First line: Some days feel like complete disasters.
by Deborah Underwood, art by Irene Chan
First line: Kindness is sometimes a cup and a card (full sentence spans three spreads)
EVEN THE SMALLEST WILL GROW
by Lita Judge
First line: Tucked beneath a blanket of leaves, the acorn sleeps until its roots are ready to reach deep into the earth, and it begins to grow...(sentence continues on following spread)
DON'T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT!
by Robin Newman, art by Susan Batori
First line: Bear needed a lot of sleep.
BALLOONS FOR PAPA
by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia, art by Erika Meza
First line: One gray morning, Arthur walked hand in hand with his papa through the park, past seller after seller, until he came to his favorite one.
AUNTIE LUCE'S TALKING PAINTINGS
by Francie Latour, art by Ken Daley
First line: In my mother's bedroom, behind the family pictures and the jar that holds her wedding-day flowers, a painting sits on a shelf.
WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE
by Pat Zietlow Miller, art by Eliza Wheeler
First line: Some days, when everything around you seems scary...you have to be brave. (Full sentence is split over the first spread.)