I was doing a toddler story time on Tuesday, reading dinosaur books in honor of International Dinosaur Month (did you know such a thing existed? I sure didn’t), and had to include one of my dinosaur favorites, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague. After the story time I was chatting with a parent who was mentioning how much she loved Jane Yolen’s picture books and I mentioned to her that the great thing about Yolen is that you can read her books at every phase of literary development: she’s written picture books, early chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels, and adult novels, not to mention a generous helping of poetry and short stories. Of course, this wouldn’t mean much if she weren’t talented at all of these levels, but, incredibly, she is. Owl Moon is her most decorated picture book, with a Caldecott for illustrator John Schoenherr (and it made #30 on Betsy Bird’s picture book poll). Meanwhile, she has gobs of ALA Notable Books for Children, Best Books for Young Adults, Nebula awards, and more, for the older books.
This seems like a very rare talent to be so versatile. The only other writer who came immediately to mind for me was one of my personal author heroes: Emily Jenkins/E. Lockhart. She hasn’t garnered the sheer number of awards and prizes as Yolen (but then she hasn’t written nearly as much yet), but from what I’ve read of hers, it’s only a matter of time. I’m currently reading Jenkins’s Toy series of chapter books to Elsa and she thinks they are just about the greatest thing that’s ever happened (so do I). Under her Lockhart pseudonym, of course, she’s written Printz Honor book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and the always hilarious Ruby Oliver series, as well as several standalone YA titles (I’ve read all of her YA books, and I keep meaning to write up a Completist piece on these novels for The Hub, because I think they are all amazing). And I haven’t gotten to any of them, but she has written quite a few picture books and a couple of adult novels as well.
So the question of the day is–who else is so versatile (and talented)? I can think of quite a few authors who have written in two or three of these age ranges, but none that get so across the board as Yolen and Jenkins. I feel like there have to be others, but I can’t think of who? Mom, readers – who am I missing?