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Crossover authors, pt. 2

Yesterday we started a rundown of authors who write for both young readers and adult audiences. Here we’re continuing the loooong list — but despite its length, it’s far from exhaustive, so let us know about any favorites we missed in the comments!

maguire_wicked maguire_egg and spoonGregory Maguire’s adult books don’t stray far from the world of children’s literature. Wicked and its sequels retell L. Frank Baum’s Oz books with a focus on The Wicked Witch of the West, her descendants, and other characters who weren’t the stars of the story when Baum told it. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Mirror Mirror retell the stories of Cinderella and Snow White, respectively. Many of his books specifically written for intermediate and YA readers also draw on existing characters; see Baba Yaga in his 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book Egg & Spoon.

You’ve probably heard of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, or at least its HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones (not his only adult work, but kind of a big deal). Believe it or not—and you may not if you’re familiar with the series’ gore — there is an intermediate novella set in the same universe. Originally published as part of an anthology in the 1980s and republished as a stand-alone in 2006, The Ice Dragon is meant to be a tale that ASOIAF character Jon Snow remembers from his childhood.

Ben Mezrich’s adult books (The Accidental Billionaires, Bringing Down the House) are often ripped from the headlines. His intermediate debut, Bringing Down the Mouse (get it?) is a story with somewhat lower stakes, but still features a conspiracy, along with a theme park and a middle school math genius.

nesbo_doctor proctor nesbo_snowmanJo Nesbø, the Norwegian author of the Harry Hole crime series and several stand-alone murder mysteries, also writes…potty-humor comedies for kids? Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder kicks off a series of wacky illustrated intermediate adventures that will appeal to Captain Underpants fans (while taking them to Oslo, Norway!).

Joyce Carol Oates has written a huge number of adult novels, novellas, poetry collections, plays, and nonfiction works (whew!). Some of her popular books for adults are A Garden of Earthly Delights and We Were the Mulvaneys. She’s also written several young adult novels, mostly with fairly serious themes (Freaky Green Eyes, Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You), as well as some more cheerful picture books (Naughty Chérie, Come Meet Muffin!).

Suspense-novel juggernaut James Patterson — author of adult series like Alex Cross and The Women’s Murder Club — writes similarly fast-paced series for middle-grade and young adult readers, such as Maximum Ride and Daniel X. The super-prolific author also has several comedic intermediate series running at the same time: I Funny, Middle School, Treasure Hunters, and House of Robots.

Jodi Picoult’s adult fiction (Sing You Home, My Sister’s Keeper) often covers sensitive real-world topics. With her daughter, Samantha van Leer, she’s written two lighter fantasies for YA readers: Between the Lines and its companion, Off the Page.

Terry Pratchett! Terry Pratchett! Terry Pratchett!

Matthew Quick’s debut was The Silver Linings Playbook, an adult novel that has since been famously adapted for the screen. His writing for a YA audience is similarly character-based fiction, including Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and Sorta like a Rock Star.

Kathy Reichs, famed for her super-popular Temperance Brennan forensic science crime thrillers for adults and the TV series Bones, also cowrites (with her son Brendan) the Virals YA series. The series is an entertaining sci-fi/forensic science/adventure mash-up: science-geek protagonist Tory Brennan (Tempe’s niece) and her friends have developed superhuman senses after having been infected with a genetically manipulated canine virus. They use their abilities in tandem with their science know-how to track down bad guys…and occasionally treasure.

rowell_landlineRainbow Rrowell_eleanor & parkowell made her debut with the adult novel Attachments, and has since written another adult book, Landline. But her YA novel Eleanor & Park was a breakout in terms of popularity, and was also a 2013 Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction Award winner and a Printz Honor Book. Her other YA novels include the realistic Fangirl and its forthcoming fantasy companion, Carry On, which takes place in the universe of Fangirl’s fictional Simon Snow series.

Salman Rushdie mostly writes adult novels, often involving magical realism. His Haroun and the Sea of Stories and its twenty-years-later sequel, Luka and the Fire of Life, inhabit a similar magic-is-possible world, one featuring talking animals and a sea with storytelling powers.

Like Gail Carriger and George R. R. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith revisits the world of his adult books to create a tale for younger readers. He has several series for adults, including the Isabel Dalhousie and No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. A much younger Precious Ramotswe, star of the latter series, appears in Smith’s early chapter book The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case. He has several other series for kids, including the Max & Maddy books (also a detective series) and the Akimbo books.

Most of Meg Wolitzer’s novels, like The Interestings and The Uncoupling, can be found in the adult fiction section of the library. But she’s also made her way into other sections: The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman is for an intermediate audience, and Belzhar is YA.

Rick Yancey started out in adult books (A Burning in Homeland, The Highly Effective Detective and its sequels), but he’s made a name for himself in YA. His Monstrumologist was a 2010 Printz Honor Book, and he’s also the author of the popular postapocalyptic YA novel The Fifth Wave and its sequels.

And then there’s Neil Gaiman, who does everything.

Whew! That’s a lot of reading to catch up on, but we’re sure we missed some crossover authors. Let us know your favorites in the comments! See 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. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.



  1. Michael Goldberg says:

    Tolkein, Hobbit (for kids )vs Lord of the Rings, and Carl Hiaasen

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