Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 20: Vivian Kirkfield Shares Killer Opening Lines in Non-Fiction

by Vivian Kirkfield

Pssst. I’ve got a secret.
I’m having a love affair.
With picture books!

I can’t stop reading them. I always want more. And I’m especially drawn to nonfiction ones.

As a reader, the opening lines draw me in. As a writer, I’ve studied many in hopes they will help me write killer opening lines for my own stories. Here are five recent ones that helped me. I hope they help you, too.  


CLOTH LULLABY: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois

Written by Amy Novesky and Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Opening lines: Louise was raised by a river. Her family lived in a big house on the water that wove like a wool thread through everything.









       

Written by Tanya Lee Stone and Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
     
Opening lines: I’ll bet you’ve met plenty of doctors in your life. And I’ll bet lots of them were women. Well, you may find this hard to believe, but there once was a time when girls weren’t allowed to become doctors.










      Written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

      Opening lines: In 1900, baseball was America’s national pastime. No other form of entertainment came close. Every boy owned a ball, a glove, and a dream.









Written by Laurie Wallmark and Illustrated by April Chu

Opening lines: Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination. Her mother, Lady Byron, had a passion for geometry. In fact, her nickname was “The Princess of Parallelograms.” But her famous father dominated the household. Beloved for his Romantic poems, Lord Byron was a celebrity throughout the world.






       
SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Opening lines: Sylvia had on her black shoes. They were shiny new. Her hair was perfectly parted in two long trenzas. It was her first day at the Westminster School. The halls were crowded with students. She was looking for her locker when a young white boy pointed at her and yelled, “Go back to the Mexican school! You don’t belong here!”








If you get a chance to read these, you’ll see one more element they have in common…they all start out with the protagonist when she is young. Word to self: editors like main characters that children can relate to.


Vivian is generously offering a picture book critique to one lucky participant at the conclusion of ReFoReMo. To be eligible, please comment on this post and make efforts to read mentor text regularly.
Vivian Kirkfield constantly takes leaps of faith. Although not fond of heights, she jumped from a perfectly good plane with her son, hiked to the summit of Pikes Peak with her husband, and parasailed over the Pacific Ocean with only the seagulls for company. A proud member of SCBWI, she presents literacy programs that entertain and engage parents, teachers and kids. When she’s not writing picture book manuscripts, Vivian gives feedback to her critique partners, plays epic games of Monopoly with her eight-year old grandson, and takes walks through the idyllic New England village of Amherst, New Hampshire where she currently resides.Her debut nonfiction picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah, will be published by Creston Books November 1, 2017. You can find her on Twitter: @viviankirkfield and Facebook: www.facebook.com/viviankirkfield, or visit her blog at Picture Books Help Kids Soar: www.viviankirkfield.com.



231 comments:

  1. What a fun reflection idea! I've read a couple hundred picture books in the last several weeks... I wish I had thought of reflecting on those particular first lines when I began reading all of them. But I will absolutely give special mind to the openings from now on! You've given us a great exercise on identifying successful openings and you've challenged us to write something up to par with these. Thanks, lady! I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my hands on the remaining one or two of these that weren't at my library. Guess I'll be heading out to town to Barnes and Noble to check them out!

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    1. Trying to write the best opening line for each of our stories is definitely a great exercise, Jennifer! Hope you are able to get the other books. ;)

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  2. Vivian,
    I loved this biographies. So much to learn. And yes opening lines are so important. thanks for pointing me to these great reads! FYI I recently purchased a book of activities for parents and children by Vivian through Amazon. The kindle version is affordable at 2.99. Check it out.

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    1. Hey Susan...I guess I've got my own personal ad man in you! Thanks, dear lady...glad you enjoyed the Show Me How book.
      I'm such a fan of pb bios...love reading them...love writing them. ;)

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  3. The power position of an opening line can offer the ideal pathway with which a reader can enter the journey of understanding more about the individual/scenario featured in a non-fiction picture book. You convey that message so beautifully in your post and illustrate it so effectively with your mentor text recommendations. Many thanks for sharing such insightful perspectives!

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    1. I am a fan of opening lines, Meli...and you are right...they are the pathway as we enter the story. So glad you enjoyed the post!

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  4. Great mentor texts, Vivian. I had not read Queen of the Diamond or Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors before. Thank you for including them. I learned a few things from them both. And I just love Duncan's book. Thank you.

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    1. I love the ReFoReMo Challenge, Maria...I, too, often miss reading books that I should...and this gives me the opportunity to discover them.

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  5. It's those all-important first lines that draw us in. Thanks for these great recommendations, Vivian!

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca...I struggle with first lines...and last ones also...hoping that studying mentor texts will give me a foot up. ;)

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  6. Vivian - Thank you for the informative opening lines for non-fiction picture books. Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine was listed by the NSTA National Science Teachers Association) as an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 in 2016 (Books published in 2015): http://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb/ostb2016.aspx

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    1. I am passionately in love with the cover and illustrations of Ada, Lynette...and proud of Laurie Wallmark for her excellent texts that garnered many prizes. ;)

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  7. Hi Vivian thank you for these recommendations they look very interesting and I love how you have noted their first lines.

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    1. Glad the post was helpful, Sharon...I'm definitely a first line fan!

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  8. I love this list of first lines...and the nonfiction books you chose. They are terrific ones!

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    1. I'm a nonfiction pb addict, Tracy...love to read them...and love to write them, too. ;)

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  9. Great post, Vivian! I've only read one of them, and so I'm looking forward to researching the rest. I love NF pb biographies, too!

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    1. Oh yes, Tina...hope you get to read them all!

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  10. I love studying openings. Thanks for a great list of nonfiction books, too.

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    1. Thanks, Andrea...there are so many out there...it was a nail-biting task to choose just 5. ;)

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  11. Thank you for your book recommendations Vivian and for your insight that Editors like main characters that children can relate to.

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    1. I know, Lisa...and sometimes it is really hard to give them the main character as a child...but we can try, right?

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  12. Loved this! I'm of course going to spend the day now reading the opening lines to my favorite books to see how they compare.

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    1. That's a great exercise, Erin! Have fun!

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  13. Great first lines and great topics too! Thanks for the list.

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    1. You are so welcome, Linda...hope they are helpful. ;)

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  14. Great first lines! Can't wait to read them all. Thank you, Vivian!

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    1. We are all going to need new reading glasses when we are done...our eyes will be so tired. ;)

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  15. These are very useful comments, Vivian! Thank you.

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    1. You are so welcome, Deborah...I'm glad they are helpful. :)

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  16. I enjoyed your first lines of this post :)
    I used to read more non-fiction while homeschooling my son. But these books sound interesting. You've inspired me to wander over to the NF section again.
    Also, I, too, have a fear of heights, which I have defied. I've done - and loved - zip lining, rock wall climbing, ropes courses, and indoor skydiving. Not sure I could ever jump out of a plane though. Good for you!
    Thanks for the great post, Vivian! And I look forward to reading your book.

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    1. Glad I inspired you to wander over to the NF section again, Jeanne...and good for you! Zip lining and rock wall climbing...I haven't done those!

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  17. Vivian, Thank you for sharing your insights and passion for picture books. You give us excellent examples of powerful first lines. I'm looking forward to reading these books. :-)

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    1. Powerful first lines are so important...we all love to read them...and we all want to be able to write them. I hope you get to read these five, Ginger. :)

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  18. Thank you for this post. The books you featured caught my attention and my to read list got longer. I especially found the one about Ada Byron of interest.

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    1. Ada is one of my absolute favorites...you won't be sorry if you snag a copy, Kay. ;)

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  19. Great post, Vivian. I, too, am having an affair. Although it is not so secret because my house is strewn with picture books! I love your focus on the opening lines. The ones you chose pack a punch. Thanks so much! And congratulations!

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    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth...yes, I don't think my love affair is much of a secret either. ;)

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  20. Opening lines can be so incredible (like the ones you selected) yet totally daunting to write. I wonder how long it took those authors to write their openers? Thanks, Vivian😊

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    1. That's a good question, Jodi...I think sometimes a first line just comes to you...but most of the time, it is a process and it can change a hundred or more times before you get the one that sticks.

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  21. First lines are usually what draws me into reading the whole book. :o

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    1. Yup...so true, Brittanny...and it's what hooks the kids. ;)

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  22. Great post, Vivian! SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL is an important PB. Sadly, students are yelling, "Go back to Mexico!" to fellow students.

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    1. You are right, Manju...it is so sad...but Duncan wrote it because that is what happens...and unfortunately, still happens in many places to children of various ethnic groups.Hopefully,it will help having more diverse books and books that uncover these issues.

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  23. Great post, Vivian - First lines draw me into a book, too. They set the tone, excite me about the possibilities.... and make me want to keep reading. And these are all excellent examples (though I am Still Waiting for my copy of Cloth Lullaby to arrive).

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Sue. When I first reserved it, there were 40 people ahead of me. ;) Fingers crossed you get it soon.

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  24. Your energy is boundless, Vivian. Thank you for the recommendations. AS I read more books I am really understanding how an opening line either invites you to continue or leaves you flat. These selections bring a new awareness to to the importance of coming out of the gate strong.

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    1. Oh, I like that image, Cathy...come out of the gate strong. ;)

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  25. Wonderful choices, Vivian. I share your love of PBs, and the ones you highlight are such great non-fiction ones.

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    1. Glad you liked the choice, Patricia...it was hard to choose. ;)

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  26. Vivian, thank you for your list of nonfiction picture books with great first lines and main characters that children can relate to. I haven't read CLOTH LULLABY, but that first line already has me intrigued by a river "that wove like a wool thread through everything." I want to know more and check it out now!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes...get a copy if you can, Lori...it's a lovely book!

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  27. What a great selection of books. I am especially drawn to books about athletes because I am the total opposite of one with athletic talent. Loved Queen of the Diamond and all the others. It helps us go back and work on our own beginnings. I have a feeling you could have shared the opening of your debut book, as well. Your critiques are spot on. Someone will be getting a priceless gift.

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    1. What a good friend and supporter you are, Sherri. and I never thought of that...giving the opening lines of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH...maybe next year if it is out by then.;)

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  28. Vivian, I understand the obsession. It's a rabbit hole once you get hooked. Great mentor texts!

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    1. A rabbit hole...hahaha...I love that term, Sherry!

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  29. Vivian, thank you for sharing your list of mentor texts. I, too, am in love with picture books, and my kids can't get enough of them either!

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    1. Your children are so lucky because you love them, too, Polly...and your passion helps energize them. ;)

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  30. Great choices. They demonstrate the importance of those first few lines to pull the reader in. They give just the right tidbit of information so that the reader wants more. Thanks for this.

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    1. Thank you, Jane...I'm glad the opening lines made you want to read more. ;)

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  31. Hi, Vivian. Great picks, and I like ht focus on first lines! TY. CLOTH LULABY is so lyrical!

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    1. Happy the picks and first lines were a hit, Kathy!

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  32. Great choices Vivian, I love Cloth Lullaby. Such a beautiful book.

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    1. So right, Christine...Cloth Lullaby is going to be a classic...at least in my house. ;)

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  33. I'm a collector of first lines also. They are a picture book's first impression. Thanks for shinning a spotlight on them.

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    1. Oh, that's a great way to look at it...the pb's first impression. Well done, Beverly!

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  34. Thank you for these wonderful nonfiction books!

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  35. The opening lines are terrific and I can't wait to read and study these books! Thanks for this post!

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    1. I think you will love them all, Nancy. :)

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  36. Thanks for this mentor list of opening lines and books, Vivian! I've got some new ones to read...

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    1. That's what's so great about ReFoReMo, Ann...we are kind of 'forced' to read the books we should be reading all along. ;)

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  37. I am going to start collecting opening lines! What makes us what to read on? Thanks!

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    1. That a great idea, Robin...I'm thinking of printing out pages of them and hanging them up for inspiration. ;)

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  38. Thanks Vivian - great recommendations and wonderful opening lines.
    Cindy

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the opening lines, Cindy!

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  39. vivian: Thank you for sharing your favorite opening lines. I like your observation that editors seem to like bios with an incident or fact from childhood. Carole Calladine

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    1. They do, Carole...and it's not always easy to portray the mc as a child...but I think it pays to try. ;)

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  40. Thanks, Vivian! Of these, I especially loved Cloth Lullaby. What an incredible book. I fell in love with Isabelle Arsenault's art & bought a cover sight-unseen, and I'm so happy I did. I love everything about this book & it's the perfect mentor text.

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    1. It is a beautiful piece of work, Maria...I so agree...glad you got your own copy!

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  42. Non-fiction books are getting the best of me, too, Vivian. I've read only one of these you've mentioned, though. Thanks for the heads up.

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  43. Thank you for the suggestions, Vivian! These are great examples. I especially love the poetic quality of the opening lines (and full text) of Cloth Lullaby!

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  44. Hi Vivian. Wow, this post comes right on time! I'm working on a nonfiction pb and the mentor text Separate is Never Equal seems like the perfect read for me. Thanks for sharing!

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  45. Great post Vivian. I look forward to reading these books. First lines draw you right into the story.

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  46. Fantastic story starters. Inspired... must run off to write some myself !

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  47. Thanks Vivian for theses stunning opening lines. What a great way to start the day!

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  48. VIVIAN: Funny you should focus on first lines today. I was just thinking about doing a more in-depth study of them yesterday! THANK YOU for the reminder that first lines are everything; they're what grab the reader's attention and keeps them reading -- hopefully. IT IS SO IMPORTANT to study first lines of the GREATS (think "Where is Papa going with that ax?"), so many of which we know even by their fist lines. GREAT post and WONDERFUL examples. THANK YOU!!!

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    1. We were on the same page, Natalie! Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  49. What a coincidence, I have the same secret! I love those opening lines. I'm still waiting for these books to arrive at my library, and I can't wait to read them. Thanks, Vivian.

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  50. Thanks for rounding up these great first lines Vivian!

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  51. Thanks for this lovely "girl power" list!

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  52. Vivian thanks for sharing some of your non fiction picture books with great opening lines.

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  53. I love these opening lines - fabulous! Thank you Vivian!

    Nicki Jacobsmeyer

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  54. Great post! As ever, Vivian, you have an eye (and an ear) for fantastic picture books!

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  55. Great examples, Vivian. We see so many fiction examples, that it's helpful to how to make first lines work in the non-fiction realm.

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  56. Thank you Vivian for the informative opening lines for these selection of non-fiction picture books.

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  57. Thank you for examples of great beginnings. They all drew me in. I want to read more.

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  58. Vivian, your mentor text selections are wonderful. And those first lines...can't wait to read a couple of them that I haven't yet explored. Thanks for the inspiring post!

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  59. These are all great books with good opening lines. I especially like the beginning lines of Cloth Lullaby and Who Says Women Can't be Doctors. They got my attention right away.

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  60. Oh, that first one. "Louise was raised by a river." I love it!! Fantastic examples, Vivian!

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    1. Oh, you are right, Carrie...it's spectacular...let's write one's just like that, okay? ;)

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  61. I love reading opening lines! The really good ones are...magic. Thank you, Vivian for sharing some of your favourites

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  62. Fantastic opening lines make me smile. Thank you for your book list.

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  63. Great post, Vivian! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on opening lines. I love Non-Fiction Picture Book biographies and will definitely be reading these. At the moment I am currently working on 6 NF biographies, including 2 series.

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  64. Thank you for inspiring me to write about the famous women in the history of my part of New York State. I can see that their histories are also crucial in order for children to appreciate the advances in our world.

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  65. Opening lines are something I struggle with, too. My current project "opens" in two places. Double Challenge! :)

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  66. I think we can learn much from reading the first lines of books. This would make a great study all by itself! Thank you!

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  67. Wonderful words that grab our attention! Thank you, Vivian.

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  68. Great recommendations, Vivian. Thank YOU :) XO

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  69. I love these examples! Thanks for highlighting this one small, but important, element of pbs:>)

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  70. The opening lines of a picture book is an important element, for sure. Thank you, Vivian, for the great titles. I've read all; except for one.
    ~Suzy Leopold

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  71. These non-fiction mentor texts sound wonderful, Vivian. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on opening lines.

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  72. Thank you for the great list of mentor texts and opening lines to study.

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  73. Fantastic first lines, Vivian! And it's interesting that all of these PB bios start when the protagonist is young -- great insight. Thanks for sharing!

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  74. Thanksgiving, Vivian! It's good to be reminded about first lines and to pay attention to them again. I like the idea of looking at them more carefully in nonfiction too!

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  76. I love opening lines too. Thanks for sharing a nice variety here, AND for the tip at the end of your post!

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  77. Thank you for a great list of nonfiction mentor texts. I write down the first 3-4 lines of a book in my journal. I look to see if they give me a hook and set up the story. Glad I'm not alone in "dissecting" great books!

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  78. Vivian, your love for picture books shows. Your enthusiasm is infectious which is a good thing. Great choice of books. My dream is that children all over the world read these books and are inspired to chase their dreams to make them reality like these women did. Also, you are correct, stellar first lines make the lasting impression. Thank you for sharing this post with us.

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    1. I think you are exactly right, Traci...we are trying to inspire kids to chase their dreams...I can't wait for my #50PreciousWordsforKids Writing Challenge...hoping to encourage kids to become the storytellers. ;)

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  79. Thank you, Vivian, for the terrific examples of great opening lines in nonfiction PB's. First lines can be so elusive and finding that kid relatable line can be so elusive. I look forward to reading your new book :)

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    1. They are so darn elusive, Charlotte...I agree...and I hope when my book comes out, you will feel the first lines hook you in, too.

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  80. Thank you Vivian! First lines are so incredibly important. These are all great choices!

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  81. Opening lines are critical--the magnet that draws us inexorably into the story. Vivian, your post has inspired me to keep a list of my favorite opening lines.

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  82. Thank you for the great post, Vivian! I love seeing different examples of opening lines!

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  83. Writing a nf picture book is definitely on my to do list, love them!

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  84. Thank you for focusing on the art of writing nonfiction!

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  85. Nice selection of opening lines. Can't wait to read yours when your book comes out!

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    1. It's definitely hard to wait, Sylvia...but I'm trying to keep busy writing/revising and doing other stuff meanwhile.

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  86. I just discovered a few of these titles. I've never been much of a NF reader, but I've really been enjoying the nonfiction PBs from your list and others this ReFoReMo.

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  87. Great mentor texts. I don't usually gravitate towards non-fiction, but I enjoyed these a lot.

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  88. thank you Vivian, there is always room for more great nonfiction in my book, no pun intended!

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  89. Thanks for the focus on those all important first lines, especially as hooks for pulling readers into non-fiction.

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  90. These are awesome! Thanks so much for your suggestions. :-)

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  91. I really enjoyed this selection of books and learned a lot from reading them, not only from the first lines! Thank you for your post!

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  92. These were great! I "collect" first lines so I was glad to have this as a post! (My favorite of the all was Cloth Lullaby.) Thanks, Vivian!

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  93. I'm always amazed at all the wonderful ways writers come up with to tell the stories of real people!

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  94. Vivian, I enjoyed reading each of these. Thank you for this compilation.

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  95. Vivian, you are an amazing advocate for children's literature. I can't wait to read your first book this fall!

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  96. AH, those oh-so-important first lines can hook editors as well as readers. Thanks for your recommendations!

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  97. Thanks Vivian. First lines can be so difficult to master - these mentor books are wonderful!

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  98. There is so much truth in today's post, Vivian! I have found myself so compelled to write new stories just by being smacked in the face with powerful opening lines. I find that the ones that impress me the most are the shortest, most simplistic ones, that manage to say so much and speak volumes. I love seeing sparse opening text mixed with an amazing opening spread or illustration, and immediately being pulled into the story (and then of course inspired to write my own!)

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    1. Great point, Melissa...sometimes a first line comes to you...and you MUST write the book that goes with it. ;)

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  99. Love the post, Vivian! The right first lines hook you!

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  100. Cloth Lullaby is a beautiful book—the writing, the illustrations, the layout. I don't recall any recent picture book biographies that don't begin with the subject as a child. So many good ones...

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  101. I admire fabulous beginnings. Thanks for sharing, Vivian!

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  102. Great choices of opening lines. And thank you for suggesting Separate is Never Equal. How did I not know about this true story? I can appreciate the author's frustration that this case is not as well known as it should be.

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  103. Vivian: I have a coffee cup I think you might REALLY like! Check out: http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=20427216&device=c&gclid=Cj0KEQjwnsPGBRDo4c6RqK-Oqu8BEiQAwNviCS7zlRtCRcVXn37jpxhmBfoDYE7KJMtJuC4Se2PvPxwaAlvB8P8HAQ&adpos=1o1&creative=98531714343&network=g&matchtype=&pla=pla_20427216&camp=PLA:20427216
    (Actually: we should try to do one for PICTURE BOOK first lines!)
    Thanks for the great post!

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  104. Such a great list! Thanks for sharing, Vivian.

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  105. Thank you for a wonderful post, Vivian! I, too, am drawn in by perfectly written first lines, and those you listed are fantastic. I especially loved the opening of Cloth Lullaby.

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  106. Vivian, you're always full of good ideas and great advice. Thank you for sharing with us today and highlighting the importance of the opening lines. Often times, they are the ones that determine whether your manuscript gets read or not.

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  107. Great first lines. I've heard a lot about how important first lines can be to the reader's experience, and these choices illustrate this perfectly. Thanks for highlighting first lines for us! Liz Tipping

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  108. I am new to writing kidlit and sometimes question what people mean when they say “nonfiction with a strong voice,” but your list answers my question! These are all very beautiful and I love how the opening lines pull readers into the book. Thanks for your post!

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  109. I'm having a love affair with picture books too! But don't worry, I think there are enough of them that we can share. Thanks for the mentor text suggestions!

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  110. Wonderful suggestions for NF picture books. Looking forward to reading them. Thank you for your post.

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  111. I love all of these books!! And for the past year and a half I've done my research by reading my kids a PB biography each night before bed (we call them "bedtime biographies") -- it is the MOST fun way to research, and I learn so much from their reactions! (They gave all these books a thumbs-up, BTW. And I always have them tell me why!) :)

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  112. All such powerful opening lines, and I bet the rest of each story is equally as powerful! Thanks for the non-fiction recommendations! I look forward to reading them.

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  113. I love non-fiction picture books too! I'm excited to read the ones I don't know. Thank you for the mentor text suggestions! BTW--I've always loved your author photo!

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  114. Thanks for these great examples of non-fiction biographies, I look forward to reading all of them!

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  115. What great first line examples. I've got the stack of these books beside me and can't wait to read the rest of these stories. Thank you, Vivian!

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  116. We've really enjoyed non fiction picture books lately as well. So many good ones coming out! Thanks for the spotlight on them.

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  117. I have really enjoyed reading the non-fiction picture books for ReFoReMo (and the fiction ones--I read around). But I hadn't really read a lot of the non-fiction ones before this and I am inspired and amazed by them. Thanks for sharing these.

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  118. Thank you for the great suggestions, Vivian. I'm going to dig into my stack right now!

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  119. Thanks for your great selections--three of which were new to me--and for the reminder of how important the opening line can be. I found Cloth Lullaby so interesting. I had not heard of Louise Bourgeois before this year's ReFoReMo. I love this challenge and its eye-opening, mind-expanding benefits!

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  120. I ran and grabbed my nonfiction mentor texts and scoured them for great opening lines. These three called out to me:
    "George heard music all the time. At Home. At school. Even when he was roller-skating down New York's busy streets." from Suzanne Slade's Music in George's Head
    "Few remember the master mariner Hanson Crockett Gregory, though he was bold and brave and bright. But the pastry he invented more than 166 years ago is eaten daily by doughnut lovers everywhere. This is his story." in the Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller
    "The mother sea turtle swam on and on through the dark sea, pulled by a great longing to come ashore." in Steve Swinburne's Turtle Tide. Thanks for spotlighting this aspect the artistry of great nonfiction for kids. Time to critically examine my own MS!

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  121. I'll need to work on my opening lines. Thank you for the post Vivian.

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  122. Wow! Great selections and wonderful opening lines! Thanks for sharing Vivian!

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  123. Psst...Your opening to this post was pretty great, too. :)

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  124. This is my favorite kind of picture book analysis, Vivian! Wonderful first lines! Thank you so much for all these examples.

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  125. Rather than a full out cry, or even watery eyes, I prefer just that lump in my throat I get when I have read something truly emotional and I have to battle it down to read aloud the next sentence: like that moment in A Chair for my Mother when the characters fear the worst for the grandmother in the fire, but quickly learn she is okay. That does it for me EVERY time.

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  126. Loved the opening of your post and examples shared. Thanks, Vivian

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  127. So much to learn, so much to do. Thanks Vivian. I think I'll start a love affair too :)

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  128. When I die, I'll die happy for all of the fabulous pbs I've read. In fact, my library will probably name the shelf for me - where all the books I order are shelved! Thank you, Vivian, for this great blog!

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  129. Thanks for the great collection of first lines. I'm right there with your love affair. It's been a lifelong affliction. Curses, there appears to be no cure in sight! :)

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  130. Writing picture books is easy: a killer opening, a surprise at the end and a middle that keeps everyone interested...in 500 words or less!

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  131. Yes, opening lines are the most important, and for me sometimes, the most difficult to write! Thanks for sharing these exceptional examples, Vivian:)

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  132. But if we kill our readers at the opening line... soon there will be no readers left! ;)

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  133. I love the opening lines of Ada Byron Lovelace! It's a great story, and those lines grab you and make you want to turn the page.

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  134. An attention-grabbing opening line is critical in all genres, and especially for our youngest readers. Thanks for your wonderful contribution to ReFoReMo!

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  135. Thanks for sharing these titles. I cannot wait to read Cloth Lullaby.
    I agree opening lines are the most important and most difficult to write. My favorite is from Charlotte's Web. "Where is Papa going with that ax?

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  136. These books have me falling in love with PB biographies. I never realized how beautiful they can be. I think the majority of my favorites from ReFoReMo have been the bios. Thanks!

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  137. Hi, Vivian. Thanks for sharing these biographies. No matter what type of book, we need to grab the attention of the reader

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  138. Thank you for refocusing our writing on the power of the opening lines.

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  139. It was interesting how powerful the first lines were, while they were still very different from each other. I feel like going back through other books I've enjoyed this month now and observing the first lines! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  140. What a great selection of opening lines! It's amazing how those first words can set the whole tone for the story to come and draw the reader in so fast.

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  141. I'm also a fan of PB biographies and love writing them. Thanks for these great examples!

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  142. Hi Vivian,
    thank you for the thoughtful selection of opening lines. They really make a difference, as they entice you to continue reading. What would be really interesting is to ask authors to comment on their own first lines: the process of developing them, how long it took them to find them, how many revisions,technical albeit important stuff.

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  143. Great books! Great opening lines! If a book doesn't catch the reading from the start, it won't hold them until the end. Thanks for sharing your selection.

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  144. Great puzzle..how to start the story. Fine examples here and has me thinking about non-fiction ideas for the first time. Thanks!

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  145. I started a spreadsheet this year to log all the books I'm reading and because of your picture book reviews on your blog I added an opening lines column. And that led me to add another for closing lines, too. Thank you for sharing!

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  146. Love these first lines and I can't wait to re-read others for their power in the first few words, too. Thanks Vivian!

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  147. I've read all of these and love those first lines. Thanks for sharing them so I could read them again. I love your wonderful reviews at your website and also love your photo. I'm sure you must have been a ballerina at one time.:-)

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  148. I've been trying to explain to my non-writer friends how hard picture book writing is.
    You have truly shown here how important that one first line can be.
    (In the cartoon Baby Blues this week, the mom is trying to write a Picture Book. Too close to home.)
    Fabulous book selection.

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  149. Opening line is so critical, and so challenging. Thanks for these great examples and inspirations.

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  150. Oh! Opening lines! Great idea for a book list formed by this topic. I will enjoy reading these with special attention paid to the impact their openings have on the stories as a whole. Thank you!

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  151. For someone (who will remain nameless) who is banging her head against a wall for a decent opening line to one of her recent stories I should start a book list of opening lines huh? ;)

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