Back when we started reading for StorySnoops the biggest sacrifice (at least for this Snoop, who reads so much slower than her counterparts!) we had to make was to give up reading our beloved adult books. And while we occasionally pick up something from a favorite adult author, the majority of those precious reading hours are spent with an entirely different group of folks. But imagine our delight when we see one of our old friends taking a dip in the Young Adult pool—so exciting!
Writing for a young audience is an entirely different ball game though. If it were a slam-dunk, everybody would be doing it, right? So clearly the ability to write for kids with an authentic voice that will speak to them without patronizing them is a talent. These teens are whip-smart and can smell a fake voice a mile away, so pretenders looking for low-hanging fruit in the YA market need not apply. Recognizing who is good at writing for kids versus writing for adults is a lot like watching good teachers and youth leaders in action—there are clearly people in this world who have the ability to connect instantly with kids, while there are others who wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to even begin a conversation with a teenager. Success in one market by no means guarantees success in the other (with the exception of James Patterson, apparently).
Even so, we Snoops have always been positively giddy when a favorite adult author tries their hand at writing for kids, and pick up those books immediately. And I gotta say, sometimes it works out, and sometimes, well…not so much. I’ve had the good fortune recently to pick up the new book for teens by one of my all-time fave adult authors, Elizabeth George, The Edge of Nowhere, and I LOVED it. Her characters are fabulous (as always) and authentic, the motivations seem real and I was able to dive right in to the story without spending a single minute questioning anything she wanted to tell me. The book worked for me on many levels, and I can imagine my teen diving in and enjoying it too.
On the “eh” side of the equation? I regrettably have to say John Grisham. The first book in his series for kids, Theodore Boone—Kid Lawyer, was interesting to me (I’m an adult, I understand and love a good courtroom procedural), but could I in good conscience recommend it to a kid? Sorry, but no, not yet. I’m sure there are some middle schoolers out there (somewhere) who know they want to be lawyers (maybe they watch Law & Order on TV?), but I just don’t think courtroom antics and trial loop-holes (Grisham’s bread and butter) are that relatable for kids. I’m pretty sure somebody clued him in to this fact though because the next two titles in the series take Theo outside the courtroom and focus much more on action and sleuthing (now we’re talking!). So to be fair, I’m pretty sure Mr. Grisham is learning as he goes, and I will keep reading, just to make sure.
Here is a batch of books for kids by authors you may know from the adult side of the library or bookstore. You tell me—who has made this transition successfully and who hasn’t? And as always, let us know what is missing from this list