Wednesday, March 6, 2019

ReFoReMo Day 4: Marcie Flinchum Atkins Unites First and Last Lines


By Marcie Flinchum Atkins

What are the threads that tie a good nonfiction picture book together? Often a good beginning and ending can bookend a story. Let’s take a look at some recent nonfiction picture books that do this well.

Mirrors
In some books, the beginning and ending are mirrors of each other. We circle back to the beginning.

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and
the Coral Restoration Foundation by Kate Messner and Matthew Forsythe




First Line: It starts with one.

Last Line: It starts with one.
  




Sun! One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty and Stevie Lewis




First Line: Once upon a time—about 4.6 billion years ago—a magnificent and important star was born.

Last Line: I plan to be in the biz for another six billion years. You and me, we’ve got a bright future together.





I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley





First Line: You could say that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life has been … one disagreement after another.

Last Line: Step by step, she has made a difference…one disagreement after another.




Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault





First Line: Louise was raised by a river.

Last Line: When she was done, all of her spiders beside her, she held the river and let it rock her again.





Change
In other books, the beginning and the ending show how things have changed. The ending might be the beginning with a twist, or it might show how far things have come from story’s beginning to story’s end.

The Boo-Boo’s That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really!)
by Barry Wittenstein and Chris Hsu



First Line: Once upon a time, in 1917 actually, a cotton buyer named Earle Dickson married his beloved, Josephine, and they lived happily ever after. The End. Actually, that was just the beginning.

Last Line: Because soon those snivels and sobs of pain are silenced by Earle and Josephine's accidental boo-boo invention. And that is the happiest ending of all. The End. (Really!)




Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented by Tanya Lee Stone and Steven Salerno





First Line: What kind of Monopoly player are YOU?

Last Line: In any case, there is no doubt that millions of people all over the world adore Monopoly.




Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez and Felicita Sala




First Line: Back in the day of long skirts and afternoon teas, a little girl named Joan Procter entertained the most unusual party guests.

Last Line: And just like when she was a little girl, Joan often hosted children's tea parties at the Reptile House with her scaly friends. Sumbawa was the guest of honor.



Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America’s Children by Monica Kulling and Julianna Swaney





First Line: People called Sara Josephine Baker a tomboy.

Last Line: People were always happy to see Dr. Jo coming their way!




Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood and Sally Wern Comport





First Line: Ada Rios grew up in a town made of trash.

Last Line: Buried in the trash was music. And buried in themselves was something to be proud of.





The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just by Melina Mangal and Luisa Uribe




First Line: At twilight, a man lay on a dock, luring marine worms with a lantern.

Last Line: Through his careful observations and hard work, Ernest opened up the wonder of the universe to all of us, through a tiny egg cell.




What are your favorite first and last line combinations? 


Marcie is offering one copy of her eBook Mentor Texts for Writers to one lucky winner. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins is a teacher-librarian by day and a children’s book writer in the wee hours of the morning. She holds an M.A. and an M.F.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Her “Rookie Get Ready to Code” series came out on February 1 with Scholastic Children’s Press, and her debut picture book Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature comes out from Millbrook Press on September 3. She muses about mentor texts and making time to write at www.marcieatkins.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MarcieFAtkins and read about her #writerlife on Instagram at @marciefatkins. 

192 comments:

  1. I love this post. I have I Dissent on a bench beside me because I've been using it as a mentor text. It's one of my favorite books of all time and as many times as I've read it, I must admit that I didn't realize first and last lines were the same! How can that be?!?!?! Thanks, Marcie, for giving me pause (as I type pause slowly). I will pause much more now!

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  2. What great information to have! I often keep opening and closing lines from mentor texts, even if I don’t write out all the text. Those lines are so important! Thanks, Marcie!

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  3. Great examples of opening and closing lines that either mirror or show change. I can’t wait to read these books.

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  4. I particularly love books that have the same or similar starting and ending lines - but often, though, those ending lines take on new meanings because of the story that's been told. Great post. Thank you.

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  5. Thank you for sharing these excellent examples of first and last words.

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  6. Interesting! Thanks so much for posting this. I really like non fiction.

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  7. Thanks for culling these out for us -- it is so helpful and interesting to see them one after the other!

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  8. This is a great look at how important the first and last lines are, and some great examples...thanks!

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  9. Thank you for sharing these great NF PB mentor texts and how they open and close! Great post!

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  10. What great examples. I tend to always come full circle with my endings. I think it's time to try showing some growth and change. Thanks!

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  11. I love how you examine one type of picture book & see how the authors use two important sentences in each. Thanks for sharing this practice!

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  12. Great post on beginnings and endings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such important lines that hold a satisfying story together.

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  13. Marcie, you are the consummate librarian and teacher! I am always looking for ways to connect my beginning with my ending. This is a great list of books! TY.

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  14. A look at beginnings and endings is well worth the time. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. I enjoy books that come full circle and these nonfiction titles are great examples of having a truly compatible beginning and end.

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  16. Some of my favorite stories are those that come full circle. Thanks for sharing a great NF list for us to examine, Marcie.

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  17. Mary had a little lamp... Now Mary has a toaster! From Mary Had A Little Lamp by Jack Lechner.

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  18. Thanks, Marcie, for this insightful look into non-fiction picture books.

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  19. I like to echo or have a "nod" of my beginnings to my endings in my fiction writing. It's nice to see this translates well in nf as well. Thank you for the mentor text suggestions. I've read some of these, but not all, so I look forward to reading those.

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  20. This post has me made me take a second look st my first and last lines. Than you

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  21. I love looking at and collecting great beginnings and endings. Thank you for this resource.

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  22. I love this method of storytelling - so satisfying to the reader.

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  23. One of my favourite recent combinations is the side-by-side amazing story of The Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds & The Life of H. Tracy Hall, by Hannah Holt.

    Story A (the making of a diamond) begins and ends like this: "A rock named graphite, small gray meager..." // "It’s small and gray but far from meager. The rock is...diamond."

    Story B (the making of Tracy Hall, inventor of a diamond-making machine) begins and ends like this: "A boy named Tracy, small, ashen meager..." // "Tracy’s knees shake as he pulls out something small and ashen but far from meager. The rock is...diamond."

    This book is a such a great mentor text!

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  24. Thank your for your post! You've curated a wonderful list for us! I need to pay more attention to first and last lines in mentor texts.

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  25. Thanks Marcie! You've just made my library list a lot larger. Thank you for breaking down this pivotal component to picture books. Race ya'll to the library!

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  26. Great post today. I always love to read the first and last lines.

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  27. With a few of those combos, I hardly needed all the text in between.

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  28. Thank you, Marcie. These are stellar examples, and they help me revisit my first and last lines and see if I can circle back around. Your expertise is appreciated.

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  29. Thank you so much for this curated list of first and last lines. Need to go revisit some of my manuscripts.

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  30. Love looking at opening and closing lines, both in fiction and nonfiction. Some interesting new titles for me to read. Thanks, Marcie.

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  31. This post was very helpful. Thanks for sharing the first and last lines.I'm excited to read these books!

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  32. This was a great post on opening and closing lines. I'm disappointed that my library only had two of these titles. Off to pick them up!

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    1. Oh no!! Maybe Interlibrary Loan? I utilize that service all the time. Or if you are close to a B&N, maybe you sit for a bit and read. I know that's not always possible for everyone.

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  33. Marcie, I love your examples of first and last lines. They are so important in books! Thank you.

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  34. Beginnings and ending s- so important.

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  35. Thanks for the wonderful first and last lines, Marcie! Beginnings and endings often stay with us.

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  36. Marcie, what a brilliant post! You've chosen so many of my favorite picture book nonfiction/biographies and some titles that are new to me, and I love the comparison of first and last lines. Thank you!

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  37. I love stories where the ending circles back to the beginning, but no favorites come to mind. I'll start keeping my eye out for picture books where opening and closing lines do that really well-- especially with mirroring! Thanks for sharing this perspective.

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  38. This is one of the tasks I do with each pb book I read - it is a fascinating look to see how books begin and end. Great post!

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  39. Great timing! I'm currently working on a revision to tie the first and last lines. Such fun to read from an inspiring list. Thank you!

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  40. Great post, Marcie! Thank you for the information on opening and closing lines. I always try to come full circle with my nonfiction writing and my middle grade, The Misadventures of Ned, comes close to where he was in the beginning. I need to go through my picture books and see if any of them can be brought full circle.

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  41. I love how these authors tie everything up in a neat little bow. I have also loved learing about these amazing people.

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  42. Marcie, I cannot express how much I needed this post! I've recently realized endings torture me and cause many unfinished manuscripts. This is so helpful.

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    1. You are not alone! Endings torture me too. I'm still working on a picture book that needs first/last line overhaul.

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  43. Opening and closing lines--a mini-lesson I've used with young writers as well and still study myself. Many thanks!

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  44. A fantastic list, Marcie! In answer to your question, a non-fiction (historical fiction?) "change" picture book I enjoyed, showing how far things have come, is The Iridescence of Birds: A book About Henri Matisse. The whole book is actually one long sentence, but broken into phrases…

    First Line: If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray…

    Last Line: Would it be a surprise that you became a fine painter who painted Light and Movement, And the iridescence of birds?

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    1. I love this book! We are encouraged to use books within the last 3 years, so I didn't use this one in my post, but I love, love, love that book!

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  45. I loved how the book Pass Go and Collect $200- The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented was organized. There is a wealth of information on many levels woven through out this book. The beginning hooked and came full circle at the end. I also liked the extra page of interesting facts.

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  46. I loved this post comparing beginning and ending lines. And there are so many books listed here that I must look for! I was surprised at how many I hadn't heard of yet. Thank you!

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  47. HAMMERING FOR FREEDOM: THE WILLIAM LEWIS STORY First line: One starry night in 1810, William "Bill" Lewis was born on a plantation in Winchester, Tennessee. Last lines: Now he finally had his loving family around him, just like when he was a boy. Only now they were all free.

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  48. I am going to check all my beginning and endling lines now. Great ideas!

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  49. Thanks, Marcie, for these great book examples of first and last lines. I like books that circle back to the beginning, and your descriptive title, mirrors, is so appropriate.

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  50. I wasn't previously familiar with some of these titles, so thank you!

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  51. Cloth Lullaby is one of my favorites--even the feel of it helps tell the story. This has me thinking about my NF WIP...so thanks!

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  52. I love looking at first and last lines in this way. "Mirrors" and "Change" are great ways to categorize the books mentioned. Thank you for your informative post!

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  53. I enjoyed all these titles especially I Dissent, The Big Deep and The Vst Wonder of the World. I’m working on my own first and last lines with enthusiasm.

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  54. Thank you Marcie. I am enjoying more and more Non fiction picture books. I think my heart is there and your discussion tugs me that way.

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  55. Great examples of first and last lines ... and now I'm going to my current WIP to see what I've done with them! Thanks, Marcie.

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  56. Thank you, Marcie. I think non fiction my new love in picture books. I am now focusing on first and last lines to help my own writing.

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  57. I'm going to go through all the PBs I have to look at first and last lines!!
    Thanks!

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  58. Thanks for the great reminder on the importance of first and last lines and how they can be a unifying element in a story. I appreciate the list of excellent mentor texts. I Dissent is one of my favorites, and I have used it as a mentor text already. Very thought-provoking post!

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  59. Marcie, thanks for a great post and a craft reminder to look at the first & last lines of books. EMMANUEL'S DREAM: THE TRUE STORY OF EMMANUEL OFOSU YEBOAH.
    First Line: In Ghana, West Africa a baby boy was born: Two bright eyes blinked in the light, two healthy lungs let out a powerful cry, two tiny fists opened and closed, but only one strong leg kicked.
    Last Line: He proved that one leg is enough to do great things - and one person is enough to change the world. (Circles back & shows change)

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  60. Joan Procter: Dragon Doctor was a gem of a find in this batch for me!

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    1. I know! I adore this book! Not to mention it's a perfect title!

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  61. Thank you for this list Marcie. I have not read some of these and they are so wonderful.

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  62. Great post! It is quite helpful to see the way author's circle back to the opening...makes you think about the ms' opening in a new way.

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  63. Great post, Marcie. I love when a first and last line unite!

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  64. A great post! Thank you! My kids loved PASS GO as they are huge Monopoly fans! We learned so much from that book. Thank you for the recommendation. And we loved I DISSENT as well.
    My favorite first/last lines come from WHAT DO YOU DO WITH AN IDEA?
    First Lines: One day, I had an idea. "Where did it come from? Why is it here?" I wondered, "What do you do with an idea?"
    Last line: And then, I realized what you do with an idea...You change the world.

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  65. I haven't read any of these, but plan to. I love your first/last line examples!

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  66. First lines are what get you into a story--they must be strong,unique & hook the reader. Last lines leave the final impression of a story, hopefully a good one. These are all great examples, Marcie--thank you

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  67. I don’t read nonfiction picture books as often as I do fiction, so many of these were new to me. I loved them! I am going to be watching first and last lines more carefully, thanks!

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  68. These were great beginning and ending sentences. I loved "The Brilliant Deep" and thought it was such a great important story to tell. I love how the first and last line were exactly the same but at the end of the story it takes on a whole new meaning!

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  69. My favorite book was the PB Sun! One in a Billion. Loved how the author told the story as if the sun was talking and comparing, defining, etc. Thanks for your list of great books!

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  70. What a great post! We really must pay attention to first and last lines when we are writing!

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  71. Terrific list of opening and closing sentences. Thank you, Marcie, for sharing these mentor texts.

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  72. Thanks for the terrific list of mentor texts. I'm looking forward to re-reading those I have read and reading those I've not yet read with mirrors and change in mind.

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  73. Thank you for this post! It's always helpful to have specific things pointed out that we might not notice on our own! Most of these books left me wanting to know more. I highly recommend looking up the YouTube videos listed in the back matter of "Ada's Violin." The last video listed in particular really showcases Ada playing, and it shows her violin up close. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdmu2XD_YHI

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  74. This is a great technique. Thanks for the examples.

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  75. Great examples - thank you!

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  76. These are all wonderful nonfiction books, and although I read some of them previously, I benefitted from your observations about the beginning and ending lines.

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  77. Thank you, Marcie and others, who have shared the titles of highly recommended NF mentor texts with their beginnings and endings. I know it took some effort to type the beginning and ending sentences for us to review. What a gift to us!

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  78. Thanks, Marcie, this was so helpful! I'm going to have a look at all my beginnings and endings. 👍😃

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  79. Thank you, Marcie. You put together a fantastic selection of NF first and last lines. First lines hook the reader and the last lines stay with the reader.

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  80. Love these examples, Marcie. Can't wait to read them all.

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  81. I’ve always wanted to try non fiction. One day I’ll find the perfect topic!!

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  82. Oooh, I love first and last lines. And it's always a good reminder that when they relate to each other the entire story resonates. Thank you!

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  83. Fascinating post. I have to admit that NF books are not my favorite, but I really enjoyed some of these, especially Ada's Violin. It was also really enlightening to compare the first and last lines.

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  84. I loved the focus on beginnings and endings and how the authors bring their story full circle. Thanks.

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  85. This list has one of my all time favorite PBs. Yet, never did I guess to read the first and last lines of each and think about those the way you did. Thank you so much for this awesome post - this is a great exercise that I will from now on apply to other books!

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    1. Astghik (Astrid) KamalyanMarch 6, 2019 at 7:34 PM

      Didn't realize my name wasn't displayed, sorry about that.

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  86. Thanks for a great post, Marcie! You gave me something to think about as I work on my next project.

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  87. I love this list of mentor texts. Thank you!

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  88. Especially liked how 'The Brilliant Deep' and 'I Dissent' ended with how the story started. These books gave me ideas for my own writing, the beginning and ending of a story also takes special consideration and I am happy to have these examples or mentor texts. Thank you!

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  89. Great post! I was only able to get 3 of the books, but they are excellent! Love comparing the first and last lines. Thank you!

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  90. I love stories that come full circle and unite the first and last lines. I hadn't heard of "The Boo-Boos That Changed the World." Definitely one I have to check out. Thanks for the post!

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  91. Thanks Marcie for the great examples!

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  92. These were great books for study. I often pay attention to the first line, but I rarely compare it with the last. The Brilliant Deep was the perfect example; with the last line, it begins again.

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  93. Thank you for your post on this particular aspect of nonfiction picture book writing. I once did similar research on the first and last lines of beginning readers and found it helpful in my study of them. Thank you for recommending "Pass Go and Collect $200". I not only enjoyed the book but also found the author's note and sources interesting.

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  94. Ada’s Violin is my favorite from your selection. But I still need to read The Vast Wonder of the World. Thanks for sharing!

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  95. I love I DISSENT! Thanks for sharing your NF PB selections!

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  96. The importance of endings circling round to beginnings was something I learned in writing a psych lab report. Funny how a million years later, I'm still learning this.

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  97. Great examples for mentor texts. I love how so many of the main characters overcame very difficult times in their childhoods to become very successful as adults. Especially the women who also overcame the discrimination against them.

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  98. All of these books were wonderful - the Boo-Boos really employed a fun sense of humor with "the end" - nope, there's more.... I hadn't looked that close at first and last lines, but what a great way to think about tying up a story.

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  99. Thank you for the book choices I loved the Pas Go and Collect $200 and how Monopoly was started. Thanks.

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  100. A thought provoking study! Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor and Ada's Violin are my favorites of the bunch.

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  101. Thanks for such wonderful and varied nonfiction mentor texts. I haven't read many nonfiction PBs, and I'm finding that many of them are more lyrical than I expected. It's a great exercise to think about first and last lines in this way.

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  102. The emotional satisfaction that one gets from stories that circle back to the beginning is undeniable. Thanks for sharing such enjoyable examples!

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  103. Excellent list of mentor texts! I love that you’ve narrowed the focus to nonfiction because, just like fiction, opening and closing lines are so incredibly important.

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  104. This was my first time reading all these texts. Thank you for the suggestions. I liked seeing the first line and the last line together as you can see the journey the book takes just in those few lines.

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  105. I am still waiting for Cloth Lullaby from library. What intriguing first and last lines!

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  106. I often focus so much on my opening line that I forget how important that closing line can be.Thank you for all the great mentor text suggestions

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  107. Your analysis woke me up to the importance of first and last lines via circling back or connecting the dots in a lyrical way. I’m back at it.

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  108. This post has made me reconsider all of my first and last lines! Thank you for your excellent list of mentor texts.

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  109. I'm always surprised by how many books there are out there that I haven't discovered yet. Lately I've been thinking how I should look at first and last lines and here you've done it. It is enlightening.

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  110. Stories that circle back to the beginning are always so satisfying to me. They bring closure.

    Thank you, Marcie for sharing an outstanding list of nonfiction titles.

    Suzy Leopold

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  111. I love nonfiction picture books! I feel that even my 10 and 12 year old can still enjoy them without feeling too "babyish" for reading a picture book. There are so many good ones in this group of mentor texts but, if I had to pick a favorite, it'd be Ada's Violin.

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  112. Thank you for this thoughtful post. These are such satisfying books to read both because of the subjects and the mirror beginnings and endings.

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  113. What a great exercise. Thank you!

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  114. I love this technique of comparing 1st and last lines in PB's! It's something I try to do with my own MS's and it's so lovely to see this in mentor texts. Thank you!

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  115. Thanks Marcie for these great first and last lines. It is amazing how so few words can give you the chills! I love the repetition of "It starts with one" as the first and last line!

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  116. Thanks for the post! I'd love to write a nonfiction picture book. These are great examples of mentor texts.

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  117. I read a lot of PB's but never really studied them before this! Am learning so much!

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  118. Connecting beginnings and endings was something I was conscious of when I worked as an advertising copywriter, and as a PB writer, but I'm not sure I do it as a reader. Must pay better attention. Thanks, Marcie.

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  119. Thank you for these great examples of first and last lines.

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  120. I love the examples! I'll be paying more attention to first and last lines as I read!

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  121. It's so interesting to consider first and last lines apart from the rest of the story. I'm going to be paying more attention to that as I read more mentor texts and craft my own stories.

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  122. Such wonderful examples, Marcie! I've read many of them and plan to read the others! Thanks!

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  123. These are great examples. I'll be paying more attention to beginning and ending lines. My NF PB story I'm working on now does have ALMOST the same entry and exit sentence, but the addition of one word defines a big difference. Thank you for this post. Can hardly wait to read your new book.

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  124. I feel like I frequently struggle with having a strong last line, so I really appreciated studying these books. They're also just terrific books all around. I particularly like I Dissent and Ada's Violin.

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  125. Again looking forward to these selections. Thanks Marcie.

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  126. I love analyzing opening and ending lines when I study PBs, but I don't always notice how they are tied together. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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  127. This format of picture book study--is beginning to be my favorite. And it's interesting the different dynamic of each book exhibited in just those few lines.Thanks for sharing!

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  128. Thank you for the great mentor texts and a strategy for looking at them :-).

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  129. These are wonderful mentor texts and examples, and SO helpful as I work on my nonfiction pb and have been trying to decide how to pull it together at the end. Thank you!

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  130. One of the things I love about The Brilliant Deep is that "It starts with one" is played with meaning. It starts with one person, one tiny piece of coral, one moment of making a decision. With each one, it grows and multiplies. So cool. I love Stacy McAnulty's excited voice in the Sun and Earth books. She makes them cool and important without hitting us over the head with a why we should care message.

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  131. Loved Ada's Violin and such beautiful illustrations! I have a pb story right now that begins and end with the same line ~ nice to know it's an effective way to write.

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  132. Loved this post! So nice to think about beginnings and ends together.

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  133. Thank you Marcie. In reading your examples, I realized I am starting to do some of these already with the ones I write and they are among my favorite manuscripts. Looking forward to reading these samples and understanding how they connect such beautiful lines.

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  134. Beautiful examples, Marcie. I especially love the lyrical voice and the circling back to the river in CLOTH LULLABY.

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  135. There's something so satisfying about coming full circle, but richer for it, in a picture book - the shell and the nut. Thanks for this post.

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  136. Thank you Marcie for these incredible nonfiction mentor texts! I really admire writers who can write nonfiction in a fun informative way without being preachy. The cyclical style in the first and last lines, and how they were achieved, was very cool! I particularly enjoyed Boo Boo’s and Pass Go!
    Thanks a mill!
    Lisa

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  137. Marcie, Thank you for this great way to approach your final drafting -- making sure the first and last lines align is so powerful! I enjoyed rereading some old favorites (Sun, cloth lullaby, i dissent) and finding some new ones!

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  138. P. S. On reading Cloth Lullaby I was reminded of this giant spider sculpture at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. A quick google search told me that it was in fact artwork from Louise Bourgeois! The subject of the book! Anyone living in the area should go check it out! It is spectacular! And part of the free exhibit!

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  139. Thank you Marcie. What a great collection. I have some new favorites. I certainly had some idea of the importance of first and last lines, I had never studied that in this way before. Much appreciated!

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  140. I especially enjoy nf books, and the wraparound beginning and ending makes it feel "finished." Great list. Thanks.

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  141. I just realized that in a book I'm writing I want the end to show change. Loved that most from the list are picture book biographies. Thanks

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  142. Frank Wilson McCollMarch 9, 2019 at 12:24 AM

    So great to have lots of non fiction texts in this list.

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  143. What a treasure trove! Each one a concise, well-structured narrative that illuminates one person's life or accomplishment. I am going to start recommending nonfiction picture books to ADULTS who want a quick intro to an important topic.

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  144. Fascinating to see the first and last lines all lined up.
    Thank you,
    Darcee Freier

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  145. The full circle endings tend to be the most satisfying to me. I appreciate the list and the variety - much to experiment with in my own WIP. Thank you!

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  146. Marcie's titles have been added to the list Beginning and Ending Strong. You can view and add to this list here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reforemo/beginning-and-ending-strong-mentor-texts/2105014613076215/

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  147. Thanks for this focus on beginnings and endings.

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  148. What a fantastic reminder to go back and look at the first/last lines of the books that I love! I appreciate the connection from the mirroring lines, and the full circle endings really bring a feeling of completion or accomplishment in the story. Thanks for this list of mentor texts!

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  149. Loved this post, and I like how you broke down different ways that beginnings and ends relate to each other. Thank you for sharing!

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  150. Oh I loved so many of these! And my 3-year-old especially loved Joan Proctor, the Dragon Doctor!

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  151. Since restarting my journey into kidlit in earnest, one of the things I’ve become the most taken with is the variety, sophistication, and all-around creativity of all the NF picture books currently being published. “Why wasn’t there anything like this around for *me*?” I’m sure others here have shared that sentiment on more than one occasion. Perhaps it’s just a matter of plain ignorance—outside of those handsome biographies by David Adler, I don’t think I ventured too far into the Dewey Decimal section as a kid—and maybe there actually *were* highly attractive and engaging NF texts lying right under my nose at the time, but I feel like nothing published during my school days was as delightfully unconventional or could light my eyes on happy fire like what’s being released today.

    Perhaps my favorite aspect of modern NF picture books is what Marcie points out in her discussion of first and last lines: the throughline, the arc. The connective tissue that so frequently gets associated with fiction and only fiction. Authors and publishers seem to have caught on to the fact that even when dealing in facts and figures the human mind still craves a narrative. Our brains are built for stories, and readers seem to remember information more deeply and lastingly if it’s embedded in the context of a narrative.

    Take Stacy McAnulty’s deLIGHTful SUN! ONE IN A BILLION. This book could have easily been filled with charts and diagrams explaining the same information that’s conveyed in the text, but McAnulty’s decision to make the Sun the main character leading us through its own history OUR TOWN-style not only makes for a fun and unforgettable read but also feels completely natural. Of course the Sun think it’s brilliant and important—because it is! It has a right to be a little full of itself! Looking at a Wikipedia page would definitely not have made the same impression on me as having a dwarf star sporting shades guide me through the galaxy.

    The other texts act as great examples of gripping essays processed through the filter of historical narrative. Yes, Band-Aids are great and important, but did you ever stop to think who created them? Did you know that Monopoly has a long, complicated origin story befitting its capitalist themes? Who is the person that sits on the other side of that bench in the Supreme Court, and why does she matter? These thesis statements grip our interest, and in many cases those statements are intrinsically linked to their corresponding final lines like strands of DNA: one cannot exist without the other, and taken together they demonstrate the entire foundation of the text, the journey we start at the opening of a book and its completion (for now) upon its close.

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  152. Thank you for this list of picture books with memorable first and last lines. The first lines draw you into the stories. The last lines plant the stories in your heart.

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  153. Three of these books were new to me. I really enjoyed thinking about them as a group--great post, Marcie!

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  154. I love, love, love this post. I struggle with first lines especially. Seeing the first and last lines paired this way is eye opening. Thank you.

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  155. WOW! A real eye opener about first lines and last lines.

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  156. I loved the connection between the first and last lines in Ada's Violin. Thank you for the wonderful list!

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  157. Really loved this post. Great to see the first and last lines side by side for comparison. Thanks so much!

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  158. We all concentrate on the first line but connecting it to the last is even better. I can't think of examples because I really only remember famous first lines of PBs. I will be sure to look at the last line from now on to see how they tie together.

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  159. Wow! Great NF mentor texts. Thanks for pointing out the connection between first and last lines.

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  160. From now on, I'm going to have to make it a point to read the first line and the last line together, after I finish studying a mentor text (or even my own manuscripts). It's really a great way to examine structure and arc!

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  161. These are excellent circular examples! Thank you for pulling this list together.

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  162. I loved "Dissent" and "Cloth Lullaby" and "The Brilliant Deep." Can see why the last one got an honor.

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  163. Bringing the ending line back to the beginning creates such good closure!

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  164. Fabulous examples of opening and closing lines. Thank you!

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  165. I like the idea of looking at non-fiction through the lens of opening and closing lines. I especially want to read The Boo-Books That Changed the World and I Dissent. Thank you!

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  166. I am absolutely loving these books. Thank you for pointing out opening and closing lines. These are wonderful examples and have inspired my brain to move a million miles a minute.

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  167. Thank you for the wonderful titles examining opening and closing lines!

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  168. Great beginnings and great endings are the hallmark of a great picture book.

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  169. Great reminder to remember the power of those first and last lines!

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  170. Thank you Marcie! I LOVE stories that circle back somehow to the beginning - so satisfying! Your mentor texts were great choices!

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  172. LOVE The Brilliant Deep and Cloth Lullaby! My dear friend from France was Louise's closest friend, whom Louise allowed to create videos of her explaining how her art came out of her life. Incredible book.

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  173. So many of these are new to me. Thank you fo the suggestions!

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  174. This is a wonderful list of mentor texts. Thanks for your insight.

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  175. I keep thinking about I Dissent. So well done and pertinent. I don’t gravitate to NF but this reads like a story and not a bio. Thanks again, Marcie.

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  176. Brilliant post - now you have me really looking closer at all the first and last lines in picture books! The first and last lines in Ada's Violin are my favorite. Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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