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Lighter And Softer / Literature

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  • The Little Sister series, compared to The Baby-Sitters Club. The Kids In Ms. Colman's Class was even lighter and softer than that.
  • The Cyber Dragons Trilogy: As compared to the Agent G series that it serves as a Sequel to. While the world is a Cyberpunk Dystopia, the humor is turned way up with everyone being a smartass prone to quipping in the worst circumstances. The Black-and-Gray Morality is also considerably toned down as the protagonists are criminals but not the Villain Protagonist that G was (even though G is now Demoted to Satellite Love Interest).
  • The Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas are a series of relatively lighter and softer prequels to the extremely dark A Song of Ice and Fire, but still not exactly "kid-friendly". Still, considering the main series, it's saying a lot. More importantly it plays as a straighter and more sincere exploration of chivalry rather than the Deconstruction of the main series.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: Of the three Great Tales of the First Age, The Children of Húrin is a Tragedy and The Fall of Gondolin has a Bittersweet Ending. Beren and Lúthien is a Romance/Adventure with a -relatively- happy ending.
  • Most of the Warhammer 40,000 novels focusing on the Imperial Guard portrays them as actual humans rather than statistics to overwhelm the enemy with. Perhaps taken to extreme with the Ciaphas Cain novels, which are distinctly comedic against the ridiculously Darker and Edgier setting.
    • Likewise, the Gaunt's Ghosts novels, while still fairly dark, portrays the Imperium in general working order with a healthy dose of optimism (a concept often completely unheard of in the 40K universe).
    • The Earlier versions of codex was essentially one huge Satire, and then the American teenagers bought it into the GRIMDARK and got darker.
    • There's a notable change in tone between the Eisenhorn books (essentially one huge downward spiral) and the Ravenor books (which leave open the possibility of what might possibly even be called a Bittersweet Ending, given the setting...).
    • Warhammer Adventures aims to introduce 8-12 year olds into the Warhammer 40K and Age of Sigmar backgrounds. The emphasis will be on adventure and lessons in courage, friendship and diversity.
  • The spinoff trilogy of the Petaybee books, featuring Action Girl Yanaba Maddock's children, are far less dark than the originals.
  • Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch is a 1991 children's book which depicts the medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch as a loony who has an array of surreal creatures as his companions, and not as a person who painted singularly bleak and moralistic visions of Hell.
  • The original Gail Carson Levine Disney Fairies novels were relatively dark (for children's literature) - involving potentially society-ending threats, the deaths of several unnamed background characters, and scenes like a fairy cutting her own wings off. The spinoff books published by Random House were much more lighthearted and mainly featured stories like "Tinker Bell loses her favorite hammer" or "Rosetta and Fawn spend the day together."
  • Star Wars:
    • Fate of the Jedi fits this trope. Yes, there's Force psychosis, an Eldritch Abomination, and attempts on the Solo family's lives in order to discredit not one but two heads of state, but when you consider Legacy of the Force had a teenage boy join the GFFA equivalent of the Hitler Youth, consider cannibalism, almost fall to The Dark Side, lose his mother (which drives his father into a deep depression, contemplating suicide), and be tortured, molested, and forced to watch his mentor figure die, yeah.
    • Young Jedi Knights is another example, being aimed at younger readers.
  • The Deptford Mouselets series contains considerably less violence than the books in Robin Jarvis's Deptford Mice trilogy from which they spun off. There are still some frightening moments, but little to no gore, and their tone is more lighthearted.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles spin-off series The Dragons of Wayward Crescent, focusing on the dragons themselves, is written for very young readers.
  • While not without their grim moments, Speaker for the Dead and its sequels are virtually rainbows and puppies compared to Ender's Game.
  • Oceanology [Part of the "Oology" series that began with Dragonology] is this to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea— Land and Aronnax board the Nautilus willingly as part of an organized and publicly-advertised scientific expedition, Nemo doesn't sink any ships or kill sperm whales, and there's no mention of his family being dead. (Nemo still does turn out to be crazy and does try to stop them from leaving, though.)
  • Fear Street is a series of horror books intended for teenagers, and often contained violence and death. However, its author became more famous for his kid-friendly Goosebumps books, so a Spin-Off called Ghosts of Fear Street was created. It was also set in the town of Shadyside and centered around the titular Fear Street, but the protagonists were all pre-teens and their circumstances were generally much tamer than anything that happened in the main series.
  • The Rainbow Magic First Reader books are slice of life tales that don't include villains.
  • Henrik Drescher's children's book Love the Beastie is much lighter and softer in tone than its predecessor Patthe Beastie due to Paul and Judy treating their pet Beastie in a more friendly manner rather than torturing the Beastie like they did in the first book.
  • The Hunger Games: The arena for the 50th Hunger Games (the Second Quarter Quell): The Cornucipia sitting in the midst of a sweet-smelling green meadow, and the sky was azure blue, with fluffy, billowing white clouds. There was a snowy mountain and a forest, squirrels and butterflies and flowers and pinky birds. And even food growing. However, it was actually a Death World: carnivorous squirrels, butterflies with stings, killer birds, poisonous flowers, the mountain was a volcano.
  • Justified in the transition from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy to Wax and Wayne. The heroes now have Harmony on their side, instead of Ruin against them. Of course the world isn't about to end anymore.
  • The Kharkanas Trilogy: Structurally. Compared to the Rotating Arcs and Two Lines, No Waiting structure of the ten books long main series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, the Kharkanas Trilogy has, as per Word of God, a more typical, straighforward trilogy structure.
  • Darkest Powers is the young adult spinoff to The Otherworld series and shares its universe. It is slightly toned down for a teenage audience. The sexual elements have been removed, as have profanity, but it's still rather violent.
  • The Doctor Who Novelisations by Terrance Dicks often softened more mean-spirited elements of the plots to fit what Dicks considered to be the show's moral code. An obvious example is in his version of "The Sunmakers", where, after murdering the oppressive government official who is driving them to suicide, the rebels feel like they have done something awful and express shame that it was necessary. In the original story, after they kill him, a huge cheer goes up and the people immediately start partying.
  • Seeker Bears is pretty tame by Erin Hunter standards. Sure, characters have Family Unfriendly Deaths, however they're few and far between. This is in strong contrast to Warrior Cats, which features at least three major deaths per book (and often in graphic detail). The violence is also toned down compared to its sister-series'. Characters don't bleed that much despite all their clawing and biting.
  • In the Black Jewels series, the two "Cassidy books" (The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady) are like this compared to the original trilogy. The world has already been saved, so there's more narrative focus on healing, rebuilding, and dealing with smaller problems. There is much less on-screen violence and abuse, and main characters' traumatic backstories are less overwhelming than those of the original protagonists: Gray in the Cassidy books was held prisoner and tortured by an evil Queen for a few years as a teenager, whereas Daemon in the original trilogy had been a Sex Slave for centuries. And the cute little talking Shelties get more page time.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has new illustrations by Brett Helquist, which are pretty tame compared to Stephen Gammell's original artwork for the trilogy.
  • Anansi Boys is a lighter book set in the same world as American Gods
  • Though the Kirby video games are already very light and whimsical, the It's Kirby Time books go further with all the characters, even those who are enemies in the games, being on friendly terms.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The books when compared to the webcomic. And the movies to the books, which gives some hints that Greg's cynical worldview taints his journals and distorts reality, even though Greg himself is obviously a nicer person in the first three movies, as are everyone around him.
  • Troll Mountain is Matthew Reilly's first book explicitly written for families to read together.
  • The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy is very heavy on the angst. Between homophobia, war, the high expectations put on him as a Herald, and the scheming of Leareth, terrible things just keep happening to Vanyel Ashkevron! He works himself to the bone and feels incredibly isolated in each book. After the trilogy was finished, Vanyel sometimes appeared in Heralds of Valdemar short story anthologies. Two followed the same general tone, but Mercedes Lackey also wrote a pair of stories in which he and a Healer friend stop by in a small village. They aren't without tension, but they also don't hinge entirely on Vanyel's efforts saving the day - he has a friend, and the villagers like and trust him. Both end unambigiously happily. Given the tragedy of the trilogy, it's nice to think that his life included periods of warmth.