Children’s Books / Adults’ Books

When I decided to self-publish my Christmas story last year, it received mostly positive reviews, but those who didn’t care for it so much had a common complaint: they thought they were getting a children’s book, and it wasn’t.

santa_final_smNowhere on the cover or in the description is there mention of children as an intended audience, but apparently the combination of Saint Nick and a Fir Tree character spelled “Kid’s Book” to more than one person. This year I’m changing the description to read: “a Christmas tale for grown-ups who haven’t forgotten the magic.”

One reader grumbled that it was too grown-up for kids and too “silly” for adults. Well, to each their own, but I find it sad that some adults feel there is no place in their lives for indulgence in a bit of whimsy or make-believe.

On the other hand, there’s ample evidence that many of us continue to enjoy not only children’s classics that we remember fondly from our young days (The Wind in the Willows gets my vote for the children’s book that I continue to love and re-read the most of all) but also new classics such as Harry Potter that take us into the realms of youthful fantasy.

red pyramidWhen I was visiting my sister this summer, I started reading my nephew’s copy of Rick Riordan’s THE RED PYRAMID, the first in the fantasy series that involves Egyptian gods and two modern-day kids. Such fun! I saw it last week at a bookstore and decided it was the perfect book to follow Tana French’s deep and gorgeous but tragic BROKEN HARBOR. Time to switch gears to something lighthearted after all that Hibernian angst.

But what of books and stories like my “Fir Tree” that seem to be neither fish nor fowl? Fantasy that doesn’t have adult levels of sex or violence, but isn’t really written with a young audience in mind. I’m drawing a blank. Are there more out there? If you can think of one, let me know.

And meantime, bring on more young adult titles, especially good fantasy. I’d like to hear suggestions for those, too.


  1. December 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I really love this post and completely relate. The book I’m writing has had me concerned for years (way back when it first came to me) about this adult vs. children issue. It’s NOT a children’s book, but I now see the need to cleverly clarify this on the cover. Thank you!

    • Nancy Adams said,

      December 7, 2012 at 6:54 am

      Hi Carla!
      I’d love to hear more about your book–love those that don’t fit neatly into a category.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Polly Iyer said,

    December 7, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I read Saint Nick and the Fir Tree and enjoyed its whimsical spirit. I do think people would be smart to read Amazon’s Look Inside feature. It would save them a lot of trouble and returns.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      December 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks, Polly, I appreciate that!

      And, yes, the “Look Inside” feature is a great help when you’re choosing a read.

  3. December 7, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Nancy, I would recommend the Theodosia series by R.L. LaFevers. I read the first one back in 2008 when it was nominated for an Agatha award and liked it so much that I sought out the next in the series, then forgot about them. A quick look at her website just now shows that there are 2 more that I want to track down, and that they are aimed at ages 9-12.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      December 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      Hi Lois, so nice to hear from you, and thanks so much for the recommendation. I’ll be sure to check out the series.

      Email me offline and let me know what you’re up to.

      • Nancy Adams said,

        December 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

        Er, I meant to say offLIST–kind of hard to email offline!

        Thanks, Lois, for stopping by!

  4. Gloria Alden said,

    December 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I was an elementary school teacher for 20 years and I loved some children’s books so much that I read them to my students every year; books like the Narnia series, A DOOR IN THE WALL, THE SIGN OF THE BEAVER and THE CAY to name just a few. I just wish I had more time to read more children’s books now that I’m retired. As a teacher, I always had at least 3 at a time going; first thing in the morning, following a sustained silent reading time (when I was reading an adult book – usually a biography) and then after lunch recess the third book.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      December 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      Sounds like your students were very lucky, Gloria! Thanks for giving me some new titles to check out.

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