Growing up, I was a big reader (no surprise there) and a huge fan of Lemony Snicket’s books A Series of Unfortunate Events. I have a very vivid memory of curling up with The Wide Window when it was first released and for the first time realizing the pleasure of really indulging in a good book (I’m sure my ten year old self really needed that escape from her stressful elementary school world). I really loved Snicket’s writing and style of storytelling, it was so different from anything I had read up to that point (and that still stands true!). So, when I realized just a few months ago that “Lemony Snicket” was actually a pseudonym for author Daniel Handler, who has written several books for adults, I was thrilled and immediately put a few on hold (and wondered how I hadn’t figured it out before). Below you’ll find a list of a few surprising children’s authors turned adult novelists.
We Are Pirates and Why We Broke Up are the two novels by Daniel Handler that I checked out upon discovering his true identity. Two very different books, Pirates is about a band of 21st Century pirates who have taken up residence in the San Franciso Bay. Phil and Gwen, a seemingly average father and his seemingly average daughter, are both harbouring a secret longing for adventure and rebellion. Separately, they both set out to make their desires a reality and the result is as offbeat and darkly humorous as you would expect from Handler (AKA Snicket). Why We Broke Up is geared more toward the Young Adult set, and tells the story of Min Green and Ed Slaterton in the form of a letter that Min writes to Ed, detailing all the reasons why they have broken up and centering around a handful of random objects. It’s a fresh, bittersweet take on the classic popular boy/semi-nerdy girl romance.
Judy Blume is probably one of the most cherished children’s writers of all times, but did you know she’s also found some success in her four novels written for adults as well? Her latest was released one year ago and is titled In the Unlikely Event. “In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume imagines and weaves together a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives publisher
are profoundly changed by these disasters. She paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place — Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.” –
Roald Dahl was another childhood favourite of mine and I loved him for reasons similar to why I loved Snicket – imaginative, often funny, slightly dark. In the midst of his career, in a post WWII world, Dahl took a break from writing for children and produced a few works for adults. In our catalogue, you’ll find Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, a collection of interconnected short stories that take place in a small English town and draw heavily from Dahl’s life at the time. Another title (available through our Interlibrary Loans service) is The Best of Roald Dahl, which may be a slightly misleading title as you won’t find Charlie, Matilda, or James between the covers. Instead, you get a sampling of some of Dahl’s darkest and most twisted stories (some of which were actually used by Alfred Hitchcock in a TV series in the 60’s). If you were a fan of Dahl as a child, you will absolutely enjoy this book as well.