Wednesday, March 3, 2021

ReFoReMo Day 3: Podcaster/Author Matthew C. Winner Lets First Lines Pull You In


I’ve been the host of the Children’s Book Podcast for 8 years now. With over 650 interviews behind me, I’m often asked how I determine what books will be featured on the show. Much of those selections have to do with what resonates to me, what feels like an important book for me to share with readers, and what book I find myself thinking about long after I read the story. But often that starts with the very first line of the book. If my eyes are delighted by the illustrations and that first line lands just so, I’ll be drawn to that book almost undoubtedly. 

Here are the first lines from 10 books featured recently on the podcast or ones that I simply cannot stop thinking about. Read each opening line in turn and then pause for reflection. Consider what, if anything, moves you after reading each line. I’ve included a note about what comes to my mind after reading the line.

 

And as you continue onward on your ReFoReMo journey, may your coming days be storied, and may the good stories keep on coming!

 

Shall we?


1. “WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW IS THAT LIFE WAS GREAT BEFORE KINDERGARTEN.”

 

What You Don't Know: A Story of Liberated Childhood by Anastasia Higginbotham

 

THE PULL: Even if you have no context whatsoever for the story, that opening line implies that there’s a big problem with school as we know it, at least for how one child walks through the world. I immediately lean in!


2. “I HAVE NO SHADOW. MAMA SAYS NO ONE NOTICES. BUT I DO. AND SO DO OTHERS.”

 

Luci Soars by Lulu Delacre

 

THE PULL: I immediately ask the question, “why?”. And that’s the shortest and most compelling reason to ever read onward.








3. “I WAKE UP EACH MORNING WITH THE SOUNDS OF WORDS ALL AROUND ME.”

 

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott; illustrated by Sydney Smith

 

THE PULL: The absurd phrasing is immediately compelling. What does it mean to wake up with the sounds of words?








4. “THIS IS THE POI FOR OUR ‘OHANA’S LU’AU.”

 

Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis; illustrated by Kenard Pak

 

THE PULL: We start not by introducing a character or a setting, but by presenting a dish. I am full of questions immediately.









5. “YOUR MOTHER’S GARDEN IS BEAUTIFUL. MAY I HELP? OKAY.

MY MOM DIED. I KNOW.

 

The Boy and the Gorilla by Jackie Azúa Kramer; illustrated by Cindy Derby

 

THE PULL: Frank, straightforward language. We’re not holding anything back with this one and I have a strong sense of exactly what is in store ahead.




6. “WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME, ‘WHY IS YOUR HAIR SO BIG?” I ASK THEM, “WHY ISN’T YOURS?”

 

My Hair Is Magic! by M. L. Marroquin; illustrated by Tonya Engel

 

THE PULL: The character’s voice comes through powerfully from our very first moment of meeting her. That type of confidence is one I know will reach children immediately and I’m drawn strongly to it even more so for that reason.





7. “‘ARCHIE LOVES ZACK!’ ‘ZACK LOVES ARCHIE!’ EVERYONE SAID IT WAS SO.”

 

From Archie to Zack by Vincent X. Kirsch

 

THE PULL: This book is not afraid to say what it is upfront. I like that. A whole lot.






8. “SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED ON AN UNREMARKABLE DAY JUST BEFORE THE SEASON CHANGED.”

 

Outside, Inside by Leuyen Pham

 

THE PULL: I know what that strange thing was on that unremarkable day just before the season changed. And so do you. So much so, we don’t even need to name it. We just know.

 





9. “I LOVED YOU BEFORE I MET YOU. BEFORE I HELD YOU IN MY ARMS, I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS.”

 

I Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner; illustrated by Michaela Goade

 

THE PULL: The speaker did not just love the child, the reader. No. The speaker beckoned that child from the stars to her. You are not just a gift. You are a hope. I find that opening irresistible.







10. “I REMEMBER TYING MY SHOES. SUN ON MY SKIN. WIND ON MY FACE.”

 

I Am Darn Tough by Licia Morelli; illustrated by Maine Diaz

 

THE PULL: These lines put us, the readers, right beside the story’s protagonist. But it’s also more than that. Because of the pronouns, when we read the text it’s actually as if we are her. And so the affirmation that we, too, have that toughness within us.

 


Matthew Winner is the Head of Podcasts at A Kids Book About where he leads the company in creating a podcast network dedicated to helping kids and their grownups have honest conversations by making podcasts about challenging, empowering, and important topics hosted by individuals from diverse backgrounds who know the topic first-hand. Prior to this, Matthew worked in education for 15+ years, first as a classroom teacher in an elementary school and then as an elementary school librarian. Matthew is the host of The Children's Book Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. He also co hosts Kidlit These Days, a Book Riot podcast pairing the best of children’s literature with what’s going on in the world today. In 2013 Matthew was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker and was invited to the White House as part of the Champions of Change program. He wishes he was still on the Obama's Christmas card mailing list. Matthew and his family reside in Ellicott City, Maryland. https://www.matthewcwinner.com/

220 comments:

  1. These titles are great reminders of how important first lines are. Thank you!

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  2. Hi Matthew, first lines amaze me and you picked some real winners! As a writer, I like to pair them with last lines, too, just to see if there's a connection. As a reader and former school librarian, I enjoy teasing readers in short books talks with first lines! Ty for this great post.

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    1. I like this approach of connecting first and last lines. I'm always a sucker for circular PBs.

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  3. Thanks for sharing these powerful stories and why their first lines linger, Matthew.

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  4. I love these--tx for this roundup of great 1st lines. And for new bks for my tbr shelf!

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  5. I’ve read 4 of these books & I agree that they have great 1st lines. Time to analyze my own manuscripts!

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  6. I have been reading the first 50 words of my manuscripts to see if they grab me if not back to revising. Thank you for all you do for us is and readers.

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  7. Great topic and I'm as smitten by THE BOY AND THE GORILLA as you are, Matthew. Jackie Azúa Kramer and Cindy Derby have created one gorgeous book. I love that the first line happens between the boy and the gorilla in the garden where observing life cycles feels the most manageable.Thank you for sharing your first line insights.

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  8. First lines. I collect them all the time. They are so important and set the tone, stage, and voice. Thank you for sharing some of your favorites.

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  9. Such great titles and enticing first lines!

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  10. Thank you for this post. I just read My Hair is Magic and agree that the first line - and the whole book - are really well done.

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  11. Great examples! That first line is so important! Thanks Matthew!

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  12. Thank you, Matthew. What amazing first lines!

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  13. What great examples of first lines to pull you into a book. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. Fantastic examples! Thank you for sharing.

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  15. Love the kindergarten line-that is spot on for many kids! Loved Outside, Inside-so appropriate to understand our current situation. Can't wait to read I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS. Thanks for the list!

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  16. First lines can do so much, as you demonstrate here. Thx for sharing their impact on you.

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  17. You've got me going over my manuscripts to see if the first lines really have THE PULL. Thank you for such great examples!

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  18. Thanks not only for the post and first lines but for sharing your own reflections on them. A couple of these examples have got me thinking about my own work...

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  19. Such an important thing to think about when we write -- first lines are SO important for capturing the reader's attention and getting them motivated to read more. What great titles. Thank you for sharing these. I especially love My Hair is Magic and I Talk Like A River.

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  20. I love a great hook, and these are all amazing examples! Some classics I like too are Charlotte's Web "Where is Papa going with that ax?" and Peter Pan "All children, except one, grow up." Time to revisit the beginnings of my manuscripts... (this is Erin Siska from her husband's computer)

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  21. The titles grab us, they hook us emotionally, they speak to us and we open our hearts to them

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  22. Fabulous first lines! Thank you.

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  23. I have a ms I’m working on right now that needs a great beginning. This has inspired me to pursue something special!

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  24. Such powerful first lines. And some incredible books. Your insights and your podcasts are inspirational! Thank you!

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  25. First lines set the tone of a book. I loved The Boy and the Gorilla's first lines and it's quiet exploration of grief.

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  26. I often underestimate the power of those first words. These examples inspire me to think carefully about my own writing and look more closely as I read other genres. I am on the hunt for more.

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  27. I love first lines! And titles that pull me in.

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  28. Thank you for your post. I LOVE first lines!

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  29. I loved reading through these first lines. I especially like the voice in My Hair Is Magic! Thank you for sharing.

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  30. Beginnings are sooo hard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about books that have gotten this right. Their differing tones and voice make this post even more valuable.

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  32. My favorite 'grab you with the first line'(though not from a children's book) is from Stephen King's The Gunslinger. "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed"

    I look forward to finding and writing some grabby first lines for Picture books and beyond!

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  33. I enjoyed focusing on the first line of these 10 stories. Thank you for your insight!

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  34. I find the first lines are the most difficult to write. Thank you for sharing first lines that hooked you and why.

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  35. What a wonderful look at the importance of first lines! Tahnks!

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  36. Thanks so much for these titles, Matthew, and for explaining your thinking about why these lines are great first lines. I enjoy your podcast interviews and the insight they give into many great books. So thank you for that, too.

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  37. Great first lines, Matthew! What a number of opening acts. Plus your blog post has inspired me to take another look to revise and strengthen my own first lines. Thank you!

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  38. I loved "My Hair is Magic"...it took me back to my childhood. One of my favorite books Is 'The day the Crayons Quit", by Drew Daywalt. The first line/page isn't necessarily profound, but really makes me curious and want to read on to see what the stack of letters were and why they showed up when he reached for his crayons. The book makes me smile every time I read it.

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  39. These are great examples and it's helpful to hear not just WHAT the lines are, but WHY they pulled you in. As Kathy mentioned, it's nice to look at these alongside last lines to see how the language might repeat or refer back to the opening-or not.

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  40. Thank you for these notes about great first lines. Another author put it this way: if you take a bite of cake and it's delicious, you'll want more. If it's awful, you put the fork down. Now I must analyze my own first lines.

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  41. First lines are important and I always study the first lines of books to better help me write the best openers I can. I love when the first lines pull me immediately into the book.

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  42. Thank you for this powerful post. It inspires me to tighten up my beginnings and make them shine.

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  43. This post is so inspiring. Thank you for introducing me to more wonderful PBs. I will certainly check them out and the podcasts. They sound like a wonderful resource.

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  44. Wow, what a great book list. I look forward to finding these on the bookshelf somewhere. Rhonda

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  45. Great insights from the first lines! :-)

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  46. Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your insight regarding the power of first lines. Your comments regarding how the first lines impacted you were very helpful.

    I keep a special journal where I record the title, author/illustrator, year published and first lines of picture books that have inspired me. Sometimes I’ll write down the ending of the book as well. These are books I may consider as mentor texts for my own writing or may recommend as mentor texts to other picture book writers.

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  47. I loved reading what stood out in these first lines! It's so great to isolate first lines and see what books beg you to continue. Thank you for this great post! I enjoyed reading these books.

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  48. A few favorites here and a few that I still need to encourage our local library to purchase. Thank you, Matthew, for sharing favorite first lines with us.

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  49. I like to look at a book's cover and imagine what the opening lines might be. None of mine are as lovely as these but I keep practising! Thanks Matthew.

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    1. What a cool exercise, Cathy! I think I will try that! Thanks for the idea.

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  50. What a great variety of first lines: sweet and quiet, active, even a little spooky.

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  51. Wonderful examples of strong first lines.

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  52. "I have no shadow" is such a compelling opening line. The book isn't available to me locally, but it's still on my "to read" list.

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  53. What an intriguing post! Thank you for breaking down the parts and pieces of a first line that draw you in, make you lean in, and grab you right away.

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  54. What a great post, and as someone relatively new to picture book writing, I am so excited to delve into your podcasts. Wow! First lines is such a terrific premise. Learning and enjoying so much from this experience.

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  55. THE BOY and the GORILLA is beautifully done. I was touched by many of these books. My other fav was OHANA means FAMILY. I like comfort of the repetition - it made me feel like part of the family. Hurray for Day 3 books.

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  56. Great examples of how first lines grab you and won't let go!

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  57. This post makes me know how important that first line in in a picture book. Tanks for sharing!

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  58. First lines offer the promise of what is to come. So much promise in all of these books. Great post, Matthew!

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  59. Thank you Matthew for introducing me to these amazing books with such incredible first lines.

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  60. Thank you for these! I enjoy collecting great first lines too as I read through picture books. Here are a couple more that worked for me. Can Cat and Bird Be Friends starts off like this: "Are you a bird? Yes, I am. Then I must eat you." I'm both horrified and interested now; there's no way I'm going to put the book down.

    Dear Mr. President begins with "Dear Mr. President, I’m writing you a letter from my bedroom. Sadly, the bedroom does not belong to me. I have to share it with my big brother, who exactly fits your description of an undesirable person." Woah! These first lines lead me to believe this will be a bold book. I'm really curious to read on and see where these lines will lead.

    Such an intriguing topic. Thank you for encouraging us to pay attention to those first lines and notice why some capture our attention more than others.

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  61. The audiobook, I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott touched me from top to bottom. If you have not, please take the time. The first line let us know the character is going to share something special and personal about his life. I ask myself these questions about my writing.
    1. Does my character’s written voice highlight the emotional voice?
    2. Will that voice entice a reader from the beginning to want to take the journey?
    Several lessons for me today.

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  62. Terrific post of those important first lines. Thank you Matthew for sharing these choice picks.

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  63. I am such a fan of your podcast, Matthew! Thanks for sharing. I agree that first lines are super important, but I have to admit that I even judge a book by it's (gasp!) cover. The title and style speak to me before even opening to the first page!

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  64. Matthew thanks for your podcast and this post! I love first lines.

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  65. Thanks for sharing! I agree about first lines and have started jotted down ones that resonate with me. They are so very important.

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  66. I took the time to go back through my files of PB text/analyses, just to look at first lines... and wow! What a great exercise! Thanks for the reminder, Matthew!

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  67. The beginning of the story is so important! Great list, Matthew. Thanks for the #amwriting inspiration.

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  68. Thank you Matthew for these powerful first lines (and your rationale for what makes them so powerful!). So inspiring!

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  69. Here is I Talk Like A River again. I think it may show up a couple more times, it has so many mentoring text strengths. Thank you, Matthew.

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  70. I just listened to the last interview of the SCBWI conference with Patricia MacLachlan. This post reminds me of her quote: "The title taps you on the shoulder and the first line takes you by the hand." I guess the importance of first lines is my writing lesson of the day! Thank you Matthew!

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  71. I gee, I want to read so many of these books! Thanks for the great post

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  72. Thanks for sharing these first sentences. I believe the sentence - “I WAKE UP EACH MORNING WITH THE SOUNDS OF WORDS ALL AROUND ME.” sounds like ripples in the river. That's what drew me in to.

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  73. These first lines have prompted me to work more diligently on my first lines.
    Thanks, Matthew.

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  74. Great examples of first lines. "I have no shadow" draws you into the book as you want to know more. I love how "This is the poi for our 'ohana's luau" builds throughout the book to the wonderful ending.

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  75. A wide variety of interesting picture books I would not have picked off the shelves by myself but still waiting to find some of them. I will pay attention to my first lines for next manuscript revision.

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  76. Thank you for these! I am going to pay closer attention to first lines!

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  77. You brought so many new books to light with your focus on first lines. I was awestruck by The Boy and the Gorilla. Such a powerful story, it reminded me of the middle grade book Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate in which a boy creates an imaginary friend to deal with loss.

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  78. Thank you for the reminder to really pay attention to first lines. These examples are wonderful, and inspire me to take a closer look!

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  79. Fantastic choices for today, thank you for sharing what they meant to you.

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  80. Beautiful first lines and much to think about in your post. Thank you!

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  81. Nothing like a great opening line to pull you in. Thanks for the post!

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  82. Great words of wisdom! Thank you for sharing! Great examples!
    Annette

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  83. All of these are great first lines! Thank you!

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  84. These first lines pull in the reader and also encapsulate the story, like a topic sentence written in lyrical prose.

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  85. It's powerful to see these first lines in isolation.

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  86. Thank you, Matthew, for these great mentor texts and first lines--and for all you do for the kidlit world. I love how first lines can pull us in with voice and questions, demanding that we discover what is next. I also love studying last lines, to see how first and last connect in a satisfying way.

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  87. Love the titles you picked, Matthew

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  88. This is an incredible collection of books...and first lines! Thank you.

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  89. Wonderful first lines. Thanks for the reminder of just how important they are to a story.

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  90. Thank you for sharing these examples!

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  91. Now my anticipation is even greater because I'm still waiting to get many of these books. Really looking fwd to reading them all. Fortunately, I was able to read "I Talk Like a River"--forget the great first sentence, that title pulled me in! :)

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  92. I *love* a great opening line. And the best kind is the one you write, yourself!

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  94. Great collection of story openings. Thanks so much for your thoughtful reflections on these lines.

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  95. First lines, like first impressions . . . so important! I'm hungering to read the titles I couldn't get my hands on. And, more eager than ever to "punch" my own first lines. Thank you!

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  96. Linda Kay ChavezMarch 3, 2021 at 6:28 PM

    A great reminder of exactly how much PUNCH an opening line can hold. Loved these samples.

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  97. Thank you for introducing me to The Boy and the Gorilla. It is a beautiful book. I love the first line and where it lands us in the story.

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  98. Great first lines. Thank you for sharing these.

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  99. What a great list. All books I haven't read.

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  100. If you can provide that emotional tug and undeniably engage in that first line...that is a gift. But, it is a gift that can be realized as we all learn and grow. Thank you for this list! Ohana Means Family is beautiful!

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  101. Ahhh....the "I loved you before I met you. I sang you down from the stars," gets me. It's exactly what you feel when you have a child. Beautiful

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  102. I love a story that, through sensory detail, immerses me in emotion. Jordan Scott's I TALK LIKE A RIVER and Licia Morelli's I AM DARN TOUGH are wonderful examples of this. These details have a way of immediately connecting with the experience of the main character. Jackie Azua Kramer's THE BOY AND THE GORILLA and Leuyen Pham's OUTSIDE, INSIDE both utilize the technique of dropping the reader directly into the conflict of the story, which transports the reader on an emotional journey right from the start.

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  103. Love first lines, so I loved this post. I completely agree with what you said about The Boy and the Gorilla. Thank you for this post!

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  104. I really like the focus of studying first lines and all of these mentor texts were so different in the way they pulled the reader in. I think that first spread without text in The Boy and the Gorilla was such a powerful way to start the book and agree with Matthew about the immediate presence of voice and personality of the main character in My Hair is Magic!

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  105. Thank you for such an excellent list of amazing first lines and for reminding us how important they are in so many ways. The list you gave is so inspiring and can be springboards that help us craft our own.

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  106. The books in this group are as powerful as their opening lines. Each of the books that I read were touching and emotional gripping the reader from the first line on. I especially liked The Boy and the Gorilla byJackie Lua Kramer. It deals with the difficult subject of a little boy who has lost his mom in a very emotional touching way that woulld be perfect for any child going through that experience. I also loved My Hair is Magic and Luci Soars. Both books dealt with differences in a very positive way. The little girl in My Hair is Magic answered questions and comments about her hair beautifully throughout. In Luci Soar the little girl without a shadow learns how to cope with her difference and survive against bullies. Both books are great poitive models for kids.I Am Darn Tough by Licia Morelli also shows a strong runner who overcomes a fall to finish a race. All of these books offer hope and inspiration through beautiful writing.

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  107. These are some very powerful stories with strong opening lines. Thanks for sharing this great list!

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  108. Great first lines. I am going to revisit some of my favorite books to see if the first lines grab me as strongly.

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  109. Yes, I am drawn to frank opening lines. I like "everyone said it was so" in From Archie to Zack. It reminds me of the openings of folk tales.

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  110. I love when a first line grabs your heart and makes you keep reading. Thanks for this great list for Day 3!

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  111. MATTHEW: THANK YOU for reminding us of the power of the first line--that MOST ESSENTIAL BATE to HOOK our readers and KEEP THEM READING. I LOVE all of your examples, and plan on doing an in-depth study of my own--again. We all need these refreshers. One of my FAV first lines is from the ADORABLE book, "Love Monster," by Rachel Bright:
    "This is a monster. (Hello, Monster.) I think you'll agree he's a little bit funny-looking. To say the least. He lives in a world of cute, fluffy things.
    Which makes being funny-looking...
    pretty, darn hard." HOW COULD ANYONE POSSIBLY NOT HAVE TO KEEP READING AFTER THAT!!!?!!! THANK YOU, Matthew! And THANK YOU for your FABULOUS podcasts for all of us to learn from SO MANY WONDERFUL people in the field of children's literature. THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION to KEEP ON creating!

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  112. Such compelling first lines! Thank you for the strong examples and reminder of the importance of first words.
    Kristin Sawyer

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  113. Thank you for your podcast Matthew! It's probably my favorite kid-lit podcast. You make me want to read every book you review after your thoughtful commentary on them.

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  114. Thank you for sharing these first lines. The Boy and the Gorilla was sad, the first line just pulled you in. Made me wonder how this author was going to address this hard topic.

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  115. The power of a great first line! I loved the opening of "My Hair is Magic" especially. The personality of the speaker shines through in such brief lines. Perfect.

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  116. Thank you for sharing these mentor texts and highlighting the power of the first line to hook the reader.

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  117. They just pull you in! Great post!

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  118. Great first lines! Thank you!

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  119. Great first lines! Thank You!

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  120. These are powerful first lines. Back to studying them and the first lines in my stories.

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  121. What great beginnings. Thank you, Matthew.

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  122. I haven’t read any of these books yet but I am so looking forward to it after reading these first lines.

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  123. The power of first lines. Thank you for breaking down the pulls on these wonderful texts.

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  124. Great post! Thanks for the reminder of how powerful first lines can be!

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  125. Love the 'talk like a river' and 'Ohana'- these are beautiful! Great first lines review. Thanks, Sylvia.

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  126. Matthew, I checked out your podcasts and they rock! They contain inside info that you can't get anywhere else in the business. Thanks a million...

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  127. "Outside, Inside" would be a top choice for us. Any book with a cat on the cover to draw us in!

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  128. I Talk Like A River and The Boy and the Gorilla are powerful stories with powerful first lines.

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  129. First lines set the tone for the whole book, and these are some great examples! I'm going to start including the first lines when making notes on the books I read! Thanks for this post, Matthew!

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  130. I'm a pushover for great first lines...you had me at hello and all that. These are wonderful examples!

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  131. YIKES! the pressure is ON! I will never look at my first lines the same again...thank goodness!

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  132. I am running over to Goodreads to put these on the TBR shelf! I look forward to your first lines post each year.

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  133. I cried through a couple of these selections today. The tone was set just-so. Delightful reads, each one.

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  134. First lines of a picture book must draw a reader in immediately.

    Thank you, Matthew for always sharing the love of outstanding literature through Children’s Podcast.

    Suzy Leopold

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  135. Nothing like a first line to pull you in. In a picture book, first lines need to be awesome. For a novel sometimes I give the author a first page. But if you can hook on the first line all the better. Thanks for your insights Matthew C. Winner! Looking forward to adding your podcasts to my listen list.

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  136. Powerful first lines! And a reminder how important they are to immediately capturing the reader.

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  137. Thank you for the lovely list!

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  138. Wonderful choices to highlight; these first words are indeed strong and invite the reader in. Now I need to go back to my manuscripts and see whether the first lines are as powerful! :)

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  139. You pulled out some pretty impressive first lines. Time to go back and look at my own first lines. I'm not sure you'd pull any of them today. Thank you for reminding.

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  140. I've only recently started collecting first lines. Here are two that I like - "Once there was a river that flowed night and day, but it didn't know it was a river ... until ... bear came along." and "One day in the the deep dark beneath the pier, an octopus found a large jar"

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  141. "What if the sun is really a kite?" from I Wonder by Kari Anne Holt and illustrated by Kenard Pak

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  142. Thanks for this reminder to hone in on openers - a great point of reference for mentor texts.

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  143. Thank you - your post is so helpful! Love your commentary; it made me think about why I like the lines I do.

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  144. Matthew, the magical first line is absolutely the pull. Here’s to one day you reading my magnificent first line.

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  145. Thank you for this reminder that the first line of a story is all-important for drawing the reader in. It's fascinating to see all the different ways authors achieve it!

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  146. Thank you for sharing a wonderful list. Can't wait to read each and every one.

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  147. Wow! great post; it made me pull books off my shelf to re-read first lines, and revisit my own MSs first line - well that's one way to lose an entire day . . .

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  148. I loved the first line, "I loved you before I met you. Before I held you in my arms, I sang you down from the stars." How beautiful!

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  149. Oooo yes, first lines! After illustrations, the opening line of a book either draws me in or pushes me away!

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  150. Thank you for sharing wonderful first lines. I think that would be a great research project!

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  151. Another wonderful list. I enjoyed many of these!

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  152. These are powerful first lines; something I am trying to do in my own writing.

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  153. Thank you for these excellent hook/pull examples! Now I need to look at some of my own first lines.

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  154. Those first lines really worked. Now I'm anxious to find the ones my library didn't have.

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  155. What a great exercise. I am going to try this with my stack of books!

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  156. What great first lines! I will be looking at my own more carefully from now on. T%hank you for your insights.

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  157. Thank you! I need to listen to your podcasts! I've always loved first lines and want to become MARVELOUS at crafting them These books help!

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  158. These are all such powerful books! And the first lines really do grab you.

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  159. I learned so much from your post. Loved how you shared these compelling opening lines. Very helpful.

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  160. This reminder to pay attention to first lines, with such fabulous examples, was incredibly helpful. Thanks!

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  161. This was a great post, especially coming on the heels of PBParty week, when so many of us were looking ways to strengthen our first 60 words!

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  162. Always great to re-examine first lines and learn from others! thank you.

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  163. Thank you for the such a varied list of first lines. It was interesting to evaluate the hook for each one.

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  165. I always love first line examples. Thanks for a great post!

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  166. These lines certainly draw the reader in and shows how important first lines are. Thanks!

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  167. I can't wait for my library to get Outside Inside!

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  168. What moving books that grab you from the first line! Thanks for reminding us of the importance of opening lines and the powerful impact they can have.

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  169. I completely connect with what you are saying about beginning lines. The books that fill my bookcases in my own home is because those first lines hooked me and pulled me in.

    Great post!

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  170. Your podcast is a treasure, Matthew! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Memorable openings are powerful (and hard!)

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  171. Well thanks a lot, Matthew. Some of these had me bawling like a baby!! LOL I've been so anxious to read some of these mentor texts, as they've been so highly praised (justifiably so!), and some are new discoveries I might not have checked out. I've made notes about how they relate to some of my WIPs - thank you so much!

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  172. Thanks, Matthew, for showing us how important first lines are for engaging readers.

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  173. Thank you! I've learned from studying these stunning first lines!

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  174. I LOVE your podcast and listen all the time! Thank you for these first liners.

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  175. Every opening line pulled me in! I am reworking my stories to approach these standards.

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  176. Great insight into first lines!

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  177. This post is packed full of resources! Can't wait to read the rest of the books on the list, and dive into your podcast. Thank you.

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  178. Great first lines, Matthew. Thanks. I share your enthusiasm for I Talk Like A River. The opening line and image promised, and delivered, a remarkable story. I can't wait to read I Sang You Down From the Stars! Thanks for this awesome post.

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  179. Love to study first lines. Thanks for this great list, Matthew!

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  180. I loved I sang you down from the stars. These texts really made me go back and look at my first lines in all my ms.

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  181. These are so great! (And I love they read out Colson Whitehead's great "first sentences" on 60 Minutes interview last week)! First sentences can set up, enfold and structure so much of our story!

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  182. A great selection of first lines, thank you for sharing.

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  183. Thank you for drawing attention to the importance of first lines and this great selection of examples.

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  184. I Talk Like A River was a beautifully written book.

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  185. i love looking at first lines. I will check out these books.

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  186. Always enjoy hearing from Matthew Winner! Great choices here. Thank you!

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  187. The best first lines are not only intriguing, they also manage to introduce us to the writer's voice. Love these examples!

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  188. So many great samples of first lines. I love the one from 'Ohana means family as it has food!

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  189. This was a great post! I love first lines that draw you in and it was so insightful to see what drew YOU in. Thank you! And thank you for your Children's Book Podcast, I'm a huge fan. And will now happily tune into Kidlit These Days.

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  190. Matthew Winner - I've heard so much about you. I loved "From Archie To Zack" - such a simply beautiful story. Thank you for the recommendation!

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  191. So the lines lead us in, hook our heart, burrow deep into our thoughts and require us to read. A wonderful selection of texts! Thank you....

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  192. Such a wonderful collection of first lines! Thanks for sharing these.

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