Finn Finnegan by Darby KarchutToday we’ll be looking at Finn Finnegan by author Darby Karchut.

Let’s look at what Darby does to hook us on the first page of this novel.

The Page

“Son of a goat!” The boy swore and jumped back.  A second squirt of bird poop landed with a plop, this time on the toe of his shoe. “Oh, real funny,” he said with a grimace.  He glared up at the crow swinging back and forth on the power line overhead, sooty wings spread wide for balance.  The bird cocked its head and stared back, its eye a red-rimmed marble.

“Are you trying to warn me?” The boy dragged the tip of his sneaker through the lawn bordering the sidewalk. He wrinkled his nose at the stink of wet bird droppings mingled with the aroma of freshly mowed grass.  Not a good combination. “Or are you just yanking me around?” He watched as the crow crouched for a moment as if deciding, then hoisted itself into the air and flew off.  The boy snorted. “Yup, just what I thought–yanking.”

Why It Works

This is such a fun first page. From the opening dialogue – “Son of a goat!” –we know something’s different about this story. And why is her referred to as “the boy?” Why doesn’t he have a name? My curiosity is piqued. And the fact that he’s talking to the crow–annoyed but not completely upset–is very intriguing to me. And speaking of that crow, Darby spends some time with this crow–describing it, giving it its own personality…and I want to know why. Great use of sensory detail and description–“red-rimmed marble,” “stink of wet bird droppings,”–I’m hooked!