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Crossover authors, pt. 1

Is there a better feeling than discovering a new book by a favorite author? How about discovering a whole bunch of books you haven’t read yet by that author? Maybe you’re familiar with their work for adults, but didn’t realize they wrote for younger readers as well, or vice versa. For example (in alphabetical order and with many omissions, so tell us your favorites in the comments)…

alexie_lone ranger and tonto fistfight in heavenThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie mostly writes novels (Flight) and short story collections (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) for adults, usually focusing on the experiences of Native Americans. His young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which covers similar ground, won a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award in 2009.

The majority of Isabel Allende’s books are tales for adults that incorporate magical realism (House of the Spirits, Eva Luna). She brought her magical realism into the YA realm with a trilogy that begins in the Amazonian rainforest with City of the Beasts and eventually encompasses Kenya and the Himalayas.

Julia Alvarez is perhaps best-known for her adult novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies, both about with roots in the Dominican Republic. Her middle-grade Tía Lola series (How Tía Lola Came to Stay and sequels) stays close to her Dominican American heritage. Her middle-grade novel Return to Sender won the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award.

Clive Barker writes horror and dark fantasy for adults (Books of Blood series, Wereworld), and the films he directs (Hellraiser, Nightbreed) are similarly creepy. With the Abarat series, he moved into YA fantasy, and his The Thief of Always: A Fable is aimed primarily at intermediate readers.

When it became clear around age ten or eleven that I was growing up to be a smart aleck, I was told I was “old enough for Dave Barry.” At the time, that meant his humor columns syndicated from the Miami Herald and his nonfiction humor books. Since then, he’s written several humorous adult novels (Big Trouble, Insane City). For children, he’s collaborated with Ridley Pearson on Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatchers and its ensuing series, and written a few humorous solo novels for kids (Science Fair, The Worst Class Trip Ever). And he’s still a smart aleck.

carriger_etiquette and espionage_198x300SoullessGail Carriger’s first series was The Parasol Protectorate, a steampunk series for adults. She stayed in the same world for the Finishing School series, a prequel series aimed at YA readers. Naturally, there’s lots of readership crossover between the two.

Tim Federle started his career not as any kind of author, but rather as a dancer on Broadway. A few years ago, he started writing kids’ books and adult books at pretty much the same time. Tequila  Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist hit shelves in 2013, as did his debut middle-grade novel, Better Nate Than Ever, about a young boy with Broadway dreams. His first picture book, Tommy Can’t Stop, is out now, and he has a YA novel, The Great American Whatever, out in March. His board book-shaped Hickory Daquiri Dock may be for adults, but it’s well aware of the influence of children’s literature: the subtitle is Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist.

Jasper Fforde writes several humorous series for adults, all set in worlds slightly different from our own. The Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series both involve investigations of crimes among fictional characters, and the Shades of Grey series is a social satire set in the distant future. His Last Dragonslayer series for YA readers is a similarly tongue-in-cheek fantasy, set in a world where magic exists but isn’t very dependable.

When you think of John Grisham, you probably think of legal thrillers like A Time to Kill and The Firm. His novels for intermediate readers, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer and its sequels, stay close to Grisham’s roots, starring a young aspiring attorney who keeps finding himself involved in investigations.

Shannon Hale wrote Austenland after falling in love — “real love… painful, aching bliss” — with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. And also after having won a Newbery Honor for Princess Academy. She has also created a fierce Rapunzel in the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge (written with Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale), among other fairy-tale and fantasy retellings.

Like Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen started out with a column in the Miami Herald, though his, which is still running, is more overtly political than Barry’s. Soon he, too, began writing madcap adult novels (Tourist Season, Bad Monkey). Hiaasen’s intermediate books, beginning with Newbery Honor book Hoot, combine humor with environmental themes. Most recently, he’s brought a popular character from his adult books to his YA debut, Skink: No Surrender.

hoffman_practical magichoffman_nightbirdAlice Hoffman is well known for her adult fantasy novel Practical Magic (who saw the Nicole Kidman/Sandra Bullock movie? Everyone, right?), but she’s written in a variety of genres, including historical fiction (The Dovekeepers) and nonfiction (Survival Lessons). She’s also written several YA novels, often with fantasy elements (such as in Green Angel and sequels, Indigo), and most recently, the intermediate fantasy Nightbird. Recently, she discussed Edward Eager’s influence on her writing in the pages of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sophie Kinsella is mostly associated with light realistic fiction for adults, particularly Confessions of a Shopaholic and its sequels. Lately, she’s stepped into the world of YA with Finding Audrey, which is also lightish realistic fiction but with a healthy dose of weightier issues, including debilitating anxiety and bullying.

And that’s just the beginning! Stay tuned for more crossover authors tomorrow, and find all of our crossover week posts here.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College.

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