How opening lines from children's literature compare down the ages

23rd February 2007 at 00:00
1. Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll (1865)

2. Squire Trelawney, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-, and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.

Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

3. When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression.

The Secret Garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

4. The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is farthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it so one could be taken to look at the dolls' houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day.

Ballet Shoes

By Noel Streatfeild (1936)

5. These two very old people are the father and mother of Mr Bucket. Their names are Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine. And these two very old people are the father and mother of Mrs Bucket. Their names are Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina. This is Mr Bucket. This is Mrs Bucket. Mr and Mrs Bucket have a small boy whose name is Charlie Bucket.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl (1964)

6. My name is Tracy Beaker. I am 10 years 2 months old. My birthday is on May 8. It's not fair, because that dopey Peter Ingham has his birthday then too, so we just got the one cake between us. And we had to hold the knife to cut the cake together. Which meant we only had half a wish each. Wishing is for babies anyway. Wishes don't come true.

The Story of Tracy Beaker

By Jacqueline Wilson (1991)

7. When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it's never good news.

Alex Rider was woken by the first chime. His eyes flickered open, but for a moment he stayed completely still in his bed, lying on his back with his head resting on the pillow. He heard a bedroom door open and a creak of wood as somebody went downstairs.


By Anthony Horowitz (2000)

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