Crossing over

  November 21, 2003 at 2:58 PM ET
  grae     The Leaky Cauldron (via

The line between children's fiction and adult fiction seems to have blurred recently, as many books being written for young adults have never been more grown-up. Some bookstores are even having trouble deciding where to place certain books, as more and more adults cross overopens in new window from adult fiction to young adult and children's books.

"Two things have changed," says Suzy Jenvey, the editorial director of children's books at Faber & Faber. "One is that people are happy to be seen in public reading children's books. And retailers are happy for books to jump from one department to the other. Ten years before, that would never have happened."

So why has it? Are we seeing still further proof of an intellectually degraded culture in which magical quest literature is the new rock'n'roll, where the tastes which a nation of Peter Pans indulge in the cinema are finally being catered to by literature? Mark Haddon thinks not – or not entirely. "Adults reading JK Rowling are enjoying pretending to be 12 again," he says. "But you can get things out of Philip Pullman that younger readers might not. Immediately after I'd read the trilogy, I read Paradise Lost again."


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