For most of us, the books we read as children stick with us long after they’ve been boxed up or handed down. Even if they’re not all deeply profound (hey, I did learn a few fashion do’s and dont’s from those Baby-Sitter’s Club covers), there is plenty of overlap between our most beloved children’s books and our new adult favorites.
Have you ever wondered what those childhood favorites would become when they grew up? How their themes or tones might morph into the world of adult fiction? I grabbed six of the books I couldn’t part with as a child and imagined them as grown ups…with some interesting results.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly
- Though the crime Riddle James Camperdown witnesses in Elizabeth Kelly’s novel is far more serious than anything Harriet jots down in her notebooks, The Last Summer of the Camperdowns has much of the humor of Harriet the Spy and a protagonist with a similar feel.
The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss and The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
- While both books tell a similar tale, the moral questions raised in Belfoure’s story take the memoir of survival from The Upstairs Room to a much more thought-provoking level.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
- Survival, planes…it seems like an obvious pair. Maybe it is. But The Dog Stars takes the stranded survival story of Hatchet and adds adult complexity with the handful of relationships it gives its protagonist to navigate.
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan and Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
- Clearly, Mamah Borthwick Cheney was not a mail order bride when she began her lifelong affair with architect Frank Lloyd wright, but both books deal with the structure of families and how they can be impacted by romance or the lack thereof.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- They share the obvious art and museum connection, but beyond that, …The Mixed-Up Files and The Goldfinch both touch on themes of self-discovery and the search for a sense of belonging or feeling of home.
Tunes for Bears to Dance To by Robert Cormier and No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
- On the surface, the only similarity between these two novels is the shared connection to World War II Europe. But each story is rooted in fable and storytelling, and Robert Cormier’s book could almost act as an introduction to the world of magical realism adults will see in No One is Here Except All of Us.