July 2022

Every month, I check out 30 recently published picture books and share their first lines (and hooks, for NF).

Elements of a great first line

*makes the reader wonder something

*sets the tone for the story

*starts in the middle of the action

*hints at a universal theme

*establishes a rhythm that pulls the reader into the story

*introduces the main character and their problem
(bonus points if the character is particularly unusual)

*sets the scene of the story

*hints at the how the story will end

*engages the reader

*engages multiple senses

*references a beloved classic

*hints at an unusual premise

*introduces the concept

All books in this collection were published in 2022.

Holi Hai!

By Chitra Soundar, art by Darshika Varma

First line: The moon was round and almost full.

Elements used: uses the universal theme of nature.

The Path

By Bob Staake

First line: You will walk.

Elements used: engages the reader and makes the reader wonder something

Brian the Dancing Lion

By Tom Tinn-Disbury

First line: Brian LOVED to dance.

Elements used: establishes a unique premise

Not a CAT: a memoir

By Winter Miller, art by Danica Novgorodoff

First line: Hi. My name is Gato.

Elements used: introduces the main character and hints at the tone of the story

In the Clouds

By Elly MacKay
First line: Hello, little friend!

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something

ALONE LIKE ME

By Rebecca Evans

First line: I used to go to school in the mountains of China, where I was born, but since we moved, my desk there is empty.

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something

Joy Ride

By Sherri Duskey Rinker, art by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez

First line: It’s the third day of summer vacation, and I’ve already tie-dyed two shirts, fancied up a boring old hat, and made a new outfit for Max.

Elements used: Hints at the universal theme of summer boredom

I AM QUIET

By Andie Powers, art by Betsy Peterson

First line: My name is Emile.

Elements used: introduces the main character

Clean Green Machines

By Tony Mitton, art by Ant Parker

Hook: Rabbit, Bird, and Mouse explore energy saving machines

First line: These are solar panels.
Elements used: introduces the concept

Listen

By Shannon Stocker, art by Devon Holzwarth

Hook: life story spotlighting her love for music and how her loss of hearing guided her musical journey.

First line: This is a story of music.
Elements used: introduces the topic

SOME DADDIES

By Carol Gordon Ekster, art by Javiera Mac-lean Alvarez

First line: Every daddy is different.
Elements used: makes the reader wonder something and engages the reader with a universal term of affection for a parent

Growing an Artist

By John Parra

First line: “Are you ready, mijo?” Papi asks.

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something

Me and Ms. Too

By Laura Ruby, art by Dung Ho

First line: When Dad married Ms. Too, everything changed.

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something and introduces a unique premise

Breaking Through the Clouds

By Sandra Nickel, art by Helena Perez Garcia

Hook: story of her career, starting with an explanation of how her interest in clouds was sparked

First line: By the time Joanne was five, she had discovered her mother didn’t much care where she was.
Elements used: introduces the main character and their problem

Chirp!

By Mary Murphy

First line: It has been a quiet night.
Elements used: make the reader wonder something

BLUE BADGER

By Huw Lewis Jones, art by Ben Sanders

First line: White and black.
Elements used: makes the reader wonder something and uses the universal appeal of colors and opposites

Patience, Patches!

By Christy Mihaly, art by Sheryl Murray

First line: When the sun peeks through the window and it’s time to wake up, I am ready.

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something and uses the universal theme of a new day

Home is Where the Birds Sing

By Cynthia Rylant, art by Katie Harnett

First line: Home is where you come in from the rain.

Elements used: introduces the universal theme of home

Firsts & Lasts

By Leda Schubert, art by CLover Robin

First line (over three spreads): Spring is…the last time we hear “Snow day!” on the news, the last time we see the plow truck roar down the road, the last time we bundle into snowsuits, and the last time we can play in our snow fort.

Elements used: introduces the universal theme of changing seasons and the universal appeal of familiar activities

I'll Go and Come Back

By Rajani LaRocca, art by Sara Palacios

First line: For the first time since I was a baby, I flew across the world to see aunties and uncles, cousin-brothers and cousin-sisters, and Sita Pati.

Elements used: uses the universal appeal of family and the excitement of seeing family that live far away



Big and Small and
In-Between

By Carter Higgins, art by Daniel Miyares

First line (over the first spread): the sun and its shine when it asks you to rise

Elements used: establishes a rhythm that pulls the reader in and hints at the universal theme of a new day


HOME

By Tonya Lippert, art by Andrew Stegmaier

First line: When they were little…Clare and Wes had the Brown House.

Elements used: introduces the main characters and hints at the universal theme of change



Would You Come Too?

By Liz Garton Scanlon, art by Diana Sudyka

First line: If we were walls, we’d have windows, and we’d throw them open wide.

Elements used: introduces an unusual premise

Pineapple Princess

By Sabina Hahn

First line: I am deeply, deeply misunderstood.

Elements used: introduces the main character's problem and hints at a universal feeling


Little Houses

By Kevin Henkes, art by Laura Dronzek

First line: When I visit my grandparents at the beach, we stay in a little house.

Elements used: hints at the universal theme of routine and the universal appeal of visiting grandparents

The Problem with Pajamas

By Lauren Stohler

First line: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHA!

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something.

I Am Able to SHINE

By Korey Watari, art by Mike Wu

First line: Keiko has a spirited soul and a head full of ideas.

Elements used: introduces the main character

This Book Will Get You To Sleep!

By Jory John, art by Olivier Tallec

First line: Attention, reader.

Elements used: engages the reader and makes the reader wonder something

Bailey & Blanket

By Emily House

First line: Bailey and Blanket were the best of friends from the moment they first found each other.

Elements used: introduces an unusual friend duo.

Giant Giant

By Dylan Hewitt

First line: Just over here was a peaceful little place.

Elements used: makes the reader wonder something

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