Monday, October 22, 2007

It's a Start, Part IV

Welcome once again to "It's a Start," in which we take the first sentence (or so) of five kids books plucked randomly off the Acorn bookshelves. To see installment I - III of this feature, go here. Note: Maximum # of stars = 5.

My name is Reed Walton. I'm seventeen years old, I live in New Jersey, and I've never had a girlfriend. The Girlfriend Project, by Robin Friedman.

The sentences are short and sweet (as teen boys' sentences often tend to be) ... and they get right to the point of the book. Between the title and this quick self-introduction, we can surmise that we're going to watch poor Reed try to hook up with Girlfriend No. 1. Gotta keep reading to find out how this turns out. Stars: ****

Once upon a time there was a pair of pants. They were an essential kind of pants - jeans, naturally, blue but not that stiff, new blue that you see so often on the first day of school. They were a soft, changeable blue with a little extra fading at the knees and the seat and white wavelets at the cuffs. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brasheres.

A few notable things about the start of the prologue to this series: (1) "Once upon a time..." tells us right off the bat we need to suspend our disbelief a bit for this book; (2) we know the pants are going to play a large role in it ... so much so, in fact, that Ann goes out of her way here to make sure we like them and feel "comfortable" with them; and (3) the voice comes across as clear as a bell in these few sentences. Stars: ***

If you think it's hard keeping track of all the Steps in my life, try being me. The Steps are the bazillion stepbrothers, stepsisters, and half siblings my parents keep laying on me. The Steps, by Rachel Cohn.

I like the voice here, and we learn right away where the title comes from and what it means. Also, we can guess that at least a few of those Steps are going to be a cause of conflict for our narrator. I did find that first sentence slightly confusing, though. Does she mean it's even harder for her to keep track of all the Steps than it is for us? Or that it's even harder to be her than to keep track of her Steps? (It may very well just be me, so if anyone has a better take on that sentence, please let me know.) Stars: **

Willa lingered around the water spigot as long as she could, wishing she had somewhere else to go but back home. The Miner's Daughter, by Gretchen Moran Laskas.

The name "Willa" and the fact that she is standing at a water spigot (and not one located in her kitchen or bathroom) gives us the immediate sense that this is a period piece. And, it introduces conflict and a question: Why doesn't she want to go back home? Stars: ****

It's a funny thing about names. Some are long, some are short, some mean something, others don't; but everyone and everything has one, or two or three. Little Dumpling Fish had four names. The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel), by Ellen Raskin.

Typical Raskin. We know names are going to play an important role in this mystery. We are introduced to a character named, um, Little Dumpling Fish. And we are told that she (he?) has four names. (And in case you're wondering whether "Little Dumpling Fish" counts as one or two or three of those names, the answer is two. "Little Dumpling" and "Fish" are two of her four names.) Weird, wild, wonderful. Stars: ****


Erin said...

I love these posts!

SamRiddleburger said...

On my dial-up modem it takes me about 5 minutes to leave a comment, so I usually don't, but I just had to say:
I love them, too! I want to steal the idea for my site. At the least I want to start including first lines in my reviews.

And Raskin? Word up!

Robin Friedman said...

Hi Linda,

Thanks so much for blogging about THE GIRLFRIEND PROJECT!

All the best,

LindaBudz said...

Erin, Thank you!!

Sam, Steal away ... I'm pretty sure our tastes are different enough that there won't be much overlap (Raskin aside)!

Robin, You're welcome! And did you see my earlier post about it? You can find it here.

Colorado Writer said...

I've been a slug about blogging/posting comments.

Thanks for the intros. I love the way you do this.

Anonymous said...

I thought the first sentence of The Steps was pretty clear... "If you think this is hard, try that." The narrator is basically saying, it's hard to keep track of all the steps, yes, but it's harder still having to live with having so many steps.

By the by, I like this exercise. :)


LindaBudz said...

Hi, Stephanie! Thanks for stopping by ... and I don't think you're a slug!

VP, By George, I think you've got it! That does make sense, and it makes the intro more interesting, to boot. I wonder why the author didn't just write it that way ... "If you think it's hard keeping track of all the Steps in my life, try living with them (or maybe "dealing with them" if they don't live together?)." Or maybe it really is just me.

Lauren said...

It's not just you. I don't get the first sentence, either. Although it does make sense the way Violet Prose explains it.

LindaBudz said...

Thank you, Lauren. I feel much better!