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The Lines You Never Forget

October 19, 2012

You know how there’s a line from a book that just stays with you long after you first encountered it? Whether it was read to you or you discovered it on your own, it comes back to you over and over again as the years go by, and if you hear it spoken or read aloud you have a Proustian “ madeleine moment” and the memory of that first time comes rushing back. I have those moments (probably a sign I really was meant to work with children’s books?) I hope you have them too.

Today I’m sharing some of those special lines from my favorite children’s books, please share yours with us.

On a recent Saturday morning I was busy making a bed and out of nowhere a line from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass popped into my head. I’ll admit that my first exposure to Lewis Carroll was through the movie of Alice in Wonderland, but I was one of those kids who always wanted to know more, so it was only logical that I’d look for the book, and of course I’d end up on my own journey down the rabbit hole, courtesy of my local libary.

Alice Looking Glass

“The time has come, the Walrus said,

To talk of many things:

Of shoes – of ships – and sealing-wax –

Of cabbages – and kings –

And why the sea is boiling hot –

And whether pigs have wings.”

-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

 One of my favorite books from childhood, is The Color Kittens, I own several editions and make sure to give a copy to pretty much every child I know, and some grownups too.

Color Kittens

“Then the kittens got so excited they knocked their buckets upside down and all the colors ran together. Yellow, red, a little blue, and a little black. . . and that made brown.

Brown as a tugboat

Brown as an old goat

Brown as a beaver


And in all that brown, the sun went down. It was evening and the colors began to disappear in the warm dark night.” – The Color Kittens, Margaret Wise Brown

Nonsense Book Edward Lear

When I was in the 3rd grade I borrowed Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense Verse from the library, I read it from cover to cover and when I was done all I wanted to do was read it again. Here’s my favorite Edward Lear verse is from The Owl and the Pussycat.

“And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.”


And a line from a more recent favorite novel that still brings tears to my eyes, along with a smile:

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” Wonder – R.J. Palacio 

 A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh always brings a feeling of logic and comfort to the gloomiest day.

A book we borrowed from the library many times was Madeline, she was so like a 7-year old Lucille Ball to me and I loved her adventure filled yet oddly organized life.


“In an old house in Paris

that was covered with vines

lived twelve little girls in two straight lines”

Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans

A family favorite that I can still read and hear the voices of my parents in is Make Way for Ducklings. We grew up near Boston and frequently visited the Public Garden where this book is set, as charming today as when it was first read to my siblings and me.

Make Way for Ducklings

“Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live. But every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good.”

Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey

And this line takes me all the way back to Miss Dickson’s 3rd Grade classroom:

“Some Pig”

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Please share your own unforgettable lines from your favorite books with us in our comments section.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 8:14 am

    I love the line from Wonder!

  2. October 19, 2012 9:37 am

    “He was a Funny old dog. He liked strawberries.”


    “The best kind of magic book is the kind where the magic has rules. And you have to deal with it and thwart it before it thwarts you. Only sometimes you forget and get thwarted.”


  3. Kristin permalink
    October 19, 2012 9:37 am

    “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” -Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech. The first time I truly understood the concept of empathy.

  4. October 19, 2012 9:46 am

    “Grandma didn’t come to the fair to get second place.” A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck. My family was listening to the book on tape in the car and busted out laughing at that line. Grandma Dowdel is the best!

  5. denizb33 permalink
    October 19, 2012 12:12 pm

    Those are great lines. One of mine is Walter de la Mare’s “Slowly, silently, now the moon | walks the night in her silver shoon.”
    And lots of stuff from Tolkien!

  6. Dandy permalink
    October 19, 2012 12:36 pm

    sweet post Kate!
    I have a couple:
    “Round the corner,
    Not far away,
    Bing begins another day…” From ALL the Bing Bunny books that we loved reading to the boys
    “My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.” From I am a Bunny. We still pull that out to read to the boys (when they let us). 🙂

  7. October 20, 2012 2:59 am

    Basically all of green eggs and ham =P

  8. October 20, 2012 9:21 pm

    “Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you must always tell the truth.” That’s what Ole Golly tells Harriet the Spy.

  9. Heidi permalink
    October 22, 2012 11:22 am

    Anything and EVERYthing by Margaret Wise Brown. She’s the top. Silly, surprising, evocative, warm. There are far too many favorites to quote. Here’s one from The Little Fur Family: “the sun went down beyond the river. The sky grew wild and red and the little fur child turned around and ran for home.”

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