Harlan Coben and Other Adult Fiction Authors Successfully Enter the Kids’ (& Young Adult) Market

Children’s Books By Successful Authors Who Usually Write for Adults

 Back in 1996 Dean Koontz pretty much opened up the children’s market for big name authors who normally write for adults with his hugely successful picture book masterpiece Santa’s Twin. Years later he wrote a sequel called Robot Santa that was no where near as good, but since then many other adult authors have tried their hand in this market. Some such as James Patterson with the dreadful SantaKid were obviously just cashing in on their high profile name and clearly have no talent for the youngest children’s genre at all, although he did later redeem himself with a sensational young adult novel Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment.  Although it was a rewrite of an adult novel called When the Wind Blows and a sequel or two.  Others such as Far Side author Gary Larson brought his adult humour to children with the picture book There’s a Hair in My Dirt.  Even David Morrell, author of Rambo and other high body count adult thrillers wrote a brilliant picture book back in the 80s called The Hundred Year Christmas.  As a kid’s audio book who could forget “Weird Al” Yankovic’s classic Peter and the Wolf : Carnival of Animals Part II.  You won’t find that 1988 classic in the collection, but although not as good, you will find a picture book called When I Grow Up, which Al released earlier this year.

In recent times many adult novel authors have had a go at the lucrative large wads of cash on offer for success in the picture book, junior fiction or young adult novel market. Harlan Coben is the latest of a long list of adult fiction authors trying their hand (or if you want to be cynical, cashing in) with his latest novel Shelter, which is the first book in a young adult spin-off series of the successful Myron Bolitar adult fiction novel series.

So does Coben pull of a book worthy to be read by teens as well as his adult fan base?  Yes I have to say he does, and I have to say I was a little surprised, mainly because I didn’t particularly like the character Mickey Bolitar in Live Wire (the adult novel written before this  where readers first learn Mickey exists).   Too be honest, I didn’t really see any difference in writing style between Shelter, to that of Coben’s usual adult market novels, with the exception that the narrator and other main characters are all 15 or 14 years old.  I guess the only difference is that there are no sex scenes. Still we’ve got a lot of violence, including people being killed. Tattoo parlours, strip joints, police bullying, and everything else that adult Coben readers are after and that maybe parents of delicate children, who shake their heads in disgust and quickly change the channel when characters in a prime time TV show start kissing, may well not be happy for their sheltered teenagers to read. School yard bullies getting their comeuppance, finding it hard to talk around the hot girl, and other usual teen book cliches are thrown in as well, to further appeal to teen audiences, would I guess be the only other factors that justify Shelter being in the young adult novel section.

The best of the junior novels written by big name adult authors that are in our collection would be when humorous author Dave Barry teamed up with thriller author Ridley Pearson and created sensational prequel to J. M. Barrie’s classic tale Peter Pan, called Peter and the Starcatchers.  They later wrote a few more in that series, as well as a book called Science Fair which is a book about terrorism, Ipods that turn you invisible and kids saving the day from an incompetent US law enforcement agency.  Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot is also a brilliant junior fiction novel, that teaches children the importance of wildlife conservation and looking after the environment, which was also turned into a pretty good movie, that as a rarity pretty much stayed loyal to the book. Both movie and DVD are in the GCCC collection.   Hiaasen also successfully entered the young adult market with a novel called Scat!