James Patterson moves into children's books

James Patterson launches, “Middle School, The Worst years of My Life,” a book aimed at kids, on the same day as his latest adult release, "Now You See Her."

Patterson's new book aimed kids tells tells the story of a boy named Rafe, who copes with the awkwardness of adolescence: crushes, bullying, family issues.

Last year he sold more books than Stephen King, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson, and John Grisham combined. He’s been called a publishing powerhouse, a media mogul, and a publishing-entertainment entrepreneur.

He’s prolific novelist James Patterson and he’s changing the definition of modern-day publishing with his wide reach.

Mr. Patterson started writing novels in the mid-1970s. Last year he expanded his company, James Patterson Entertainment, into comic books. Several of his books are being made into movies, including “Witch & Wizard,” a young adult fantasy.

And now he’s trying his hand at children’s books again – with a clever twist. This week Patterson’s publisher Little, Brown & Co. released two Patterson books on the same day, one for adults and one for kids.

They’re hoping parents who come to purchase his new suspense novel, “Now You See Her,” will try out his young readers’ fiction, “Middle School, The Worst years of My Life.”

Co-written with Chris Tebbetts, the young adult novel is his first book targeting middle school students. It tells the story of a boy called Rafe, who copes with the awkwardness of adolescence: crushes, bullying, family issues.

Critics are saying it’s a marketing ploy, but in an interview with Reuters, Patterson insisted childhood reading is his passion.

“I am obsessed with it,” he said. “It’s a huge, huge problem in our country and probably all other countries. But we have millions of kids in this country who have never read a book in their life.”

In 2008 Patterson launched to help parents pick kids' books.

Patterson, who began his career in advertising before becoming a novelist, is a mass-marketing machine. He has had 45 of his hardcovers hit #1 on New York Times bestseller list and has sold 230 million copies of his books worldwide.

If he can sell as many children’s books as he has adults, Patterson will have millions of kids reading. Whatever his critics say, getting more kids to read is a big plus in our book.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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