Author Mary Stolz, whose novels for children and adolescent readers earned critical praise, has died of natural causes in her Longboat Key, Fla., home.

Stolz, 86, wrote more than 60 books, and was an early practitioner of the young adult novel, The New York Times said.

Among some of her better-known titles for younger readers are "The Leftover Elf," "Emmett's Pig," and "A Dog on Barkham Street." Titles of novels targeted to teenage girls include "Ready or Not," "And Love Replied," "Some Merry-Go-Round Music" and "Leap Before You Look."

Two of Ms. Stolz's works, "Belling the Tiger and "The Noonday Friends" (1965), were named Newbery Honor books by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

Stolz's novels often centered on the main characters' experiences of first love and on their attempts to come to terms with turbulent family lives.

Stolz, who died Dec. 15, is preceded in death by her second husband, Thomas Jaleski. She is survived by a son, a stepson, five grandchildren and three-great-grandchildren.