Dangerous Admissions from a Children’s Author

Alison Morris - August 20, 2007

In my recent review of Sherman Alexie’s new YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I referred to the trend of traditionally "adult" authors crossing over to write for a YA and middle-grade audience. It’s less often that I hear of the reverse — authors who traditionally write for children now writing for adults.

Imagine my surprise, then, to read in the New York Times Book Review that Jane O’Connor, currently best known as the author of Fancy Nancy, has lately penned a novel for grown-ups called Dangerous Admissions: Secrets of a Closet Sleuth.

Since I haven’t read it myself I obviously can’t comment on how successfully the author of 30 picture books and long-time children’s book editor makes the leap to writing a "grown-up" novel, but the NYT review is certainly favorable and the book’s premise shows promise for childhood sleuth-wannabes like me. In O’Connor’s novel, Rannie Bookman, a freelance copy editor, gets caught up in the mystery surrounding the murder of the Director of College Admissions at her children’s private school. She has a rather personal interest in the case, as her son is one of the murder suspects.

It’s the humorous details of the story, though, that make this sound like such a fun read. I had to laugh, for example, at the idea that Rannie was fired from her job at Simon & Schuster when she left out the all-important "L" from the title’s last word in a collector’s edition of the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock. Nerdy word lover that I am, I also love the idea that a copy-editor’s skills might be essential to solving a complicated case.

Chelsea Cain, who wrote the NYT review, says, "Grammarians, rejoice. You finally have your own sleuth." And no, Fancy Nancy fans, she does not wear a tiara.

4 thoughts on “Dangerous Admissions from a Children’s Author

  1. A Reader

    I was wondering why it is hard to believe that a children’s author can not write for adults. You are not the only one I have seen write this. Most children authors are also adults and I would think it would be a welcomed change of pace. Best Wishes to you.

  2. ShelfTalker

    A Reader, I’m not doubting in the least that children’s authors are capable of writing for adults, nor that they might want to. It’s just unusual to see someone make that leap, especially after they’ve spent so many years writing for younger readers and had so much success with it. I tip my hat to anyone who can write, period, and tip it even further to those who can successfully write for audiences of all ages.

  3. A reader

    Not only is she a terrifically funny writer, but Jane O’Connor was also a children’s book editor at Random House and Grosset & Dunlap for many years. She knows the world of publishing inside and out.

  4. Joan Holub

    Jane O’Connor edited my first published children’s book and has edited several other children’s books I’ve written over the years. She’s an amazing, insightful editor and author. Fancy Nancy is a wonderful book and I’m not surprised that she has penned (or more likely computered) a novel. Not that everyone can cross over. Witness some of the failed children’s books of adult authors, though there have been many successes in that direction as well.


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