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.