You hear it all over the Picture Book Publishing World, "You need a hook." Check out Erin Dealey's "Writer's Rap" about it. (Scroll down on her page) So, what's a hook?
In a Query letter the hook is that first sentence designed to grab the agent's attention. It's that "something" that makes them want to read on.
In a Pitch it's what will get the listener/reader to say those magic words, "Tell me more." Maybe it's the angle, maybe it's the interesting MC, maybe it's the kid appeal, maybe it's just "something" that intrigued and excited.
In a Picture Book itself, it's the first few pages, or beginning that gets your reader to want to continue (and your buyer to put down the money – just so they can finish the story).
In an Acquisitions meeting (which I have never experienced personally) a hook seems to be those points about a book that will convince an editor to take on the project. For examples, what "kid appeal" does the book have? Are there any Common Core Connections? What gaps will this book fill? Where on the bookshelf will it be?
For a Writer, all of the above are important hooks. We need to have a polished manuscript, query, and pitch that hooks whichever reader lays eyes on it. We also need to be aware of the hooks that an agent or acquisitions editor will use to sell our manuscript.
Want to know what else I think about Hooks?
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)