Suitable for adults as well?

It’s perfectly natural to read children’s books. They are not less sophisticated, but rather the opposite. Once an author has removed the adult material there might not be all that much left. So to fill a children’s book satisfactorily without the grown-up stuff must make for a better book.

It’s been good to follow Peter from Detectives Beyond Borders in discovering Artemis Fowl. Peter may well have been one of those adults who wouldn’t expect to find adult pleasure in a children’s book. Now that he’s got going with Artemis, his enthusiasm knows no bounds, almost to the extent that there’s a feeling Eoin Colfer is wasted on the young.

I believe Eoin himself was wrong when he assumed that Artemis fans would move on by the age of 14. Similarly, the Guardian reviewer of Airman felt this book was for older readers. The difference might be more one of personality, than age.

Peter reckons Half Moon Investigations is so mature that there’s a risk things will go over the heads of young readers. But I think it’s good with layers, where all readers get something, but not necessarily the same thing. I recently read the short story Taking On PJ which Eoin wrote for an adult anthology called Dublin Noir. Very different and very good, and still Eoin Colfer.

Books are obviously not wasted on young readers, but it can be a shame that the adults don’t discover them. For instance, What I Was got shortlisted for the children’s Costa prize, whereas in the US it wasn’t published as a children’s book at all. Whatever that may prove, it shows the boundaries aren’t all that set.

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5 responses to “Suitable for adults as well?

  1. Interesting, the distinction between ‘children’s’ and ‘adult’ books.

    My own theory is that kids are smarter than adults in terms of the speeds their brains work; they just don’t have as much knowledge. The best children’s books understand this. I’ve often felt that the reason His Dark Materials was written as a ‘children’s book’ was that publishers would have considered it over the heads of most adults.

  2. Nick, I love you.

    I suspect you must be a child?

  3. I just picture some alien anthropologist discovering ‘His Dark Materials’ in the children’s section and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in the adult’s section. No other conclusion could be drawn.

    There are serious counterarguments to be made on the level of emotional sophistication, of course… Emotional intelligence is another matter altogether. But I do believe children are readier to assimilate new ideas and concepts. They are still primed for learning about the real world, so fictional ones they can take in their stride.

    (I must say I do get irritated when people say, ‘I don’t like fantasy.’ I want to reply, ‘Oh, and you think you know what reality is?’)

  4. Don’t get me started on The da Vinci code…

    I suspect that fantasy to many is close to sci fi, and they automatically think space and aliens and stuff. Whereas all it means is something that isn’t quite everyday normal.

    Alice in Wonderland?

  5. It was not so much that I worried Half Moon Investigations would go over young readers’ heads as I wondered what they would make of the knowing genre references. If Colfer can make the familiar fresh, then more power to him.

    After I read Half Moon Investigations, I wrote that I could well imagine a young reader developing a fondness for crime fiction based on early reading of tha book.

    By the way, I loved Dr. Seuss when I was a child, and I love him now!
    ==============
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    “Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
    http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

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