One of my favorite books is Could Be Worse! by James Stevenson. Humor is woven throughout and I can almost hear Grandpa explaining his adventures to his wide-eyed grandchildren.
The fun is hinted at in the first line, "At Grandpa's house things were always the same."
You can tell from the cover art that things are not looking normal at all. The first line combined with the fantastic illustrations tell the reader that this book is going to involve some tall tales of Grandpa's adventures. Combined with a twist of an ending, I was hooked and had to have it.
What about the first lines of other picture books? Here are some of my favorites.
"Long, long ago (about six houndred and two years ago last Friday at 7:00 p.m. Fairy Standard Time, to be exact) the childless King Gluteus and his wife, Queen Esophagus, got lucky at last." - Snoring Beauty by Bruce Hale
"Morris Lessmore loved words." - The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
"It all began when Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree." - Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
"It was late one winter night, long past my bedtime, when Pa and I went owling." - Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Each of these provide a tantalizing bit of information that leaves the reader wondering and wanting to learn more. It's a honed skill to get that first sentence right especially in picture books. Studying the craft of great children's writers helps me develop my own work.
I use Pinterest as a visual filing system for information, images, illustrations, books, and writing resources Recently, I created a board called, First Lines - Picture Books. I save memorable first lines from picture books for later reference. Check it out and share your favorites. I'd love to read them. - Q