Travesty! Eoin Colfer beats out Dahl, White in U.K. kids book vote.
Further evidence that the British aren’t as smart as they used to be (and maybe they never were?) came this week when U.K. readers voted Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl as the best children’s book published by Puffin in its first 70 years.
Or maybe it’s just another instance of the present lording it over the past. Nothing against Colfer, whose books, featuring a teenage criminal mastermind, are funny and quick. I gave the fourth entry, Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, a rave review in the Sun-Sentinel back in 2005.
But better than Raold Dahl, another dark and funny children’s writer, whose Charlie and the Chocoate Factory came in second? Better than E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web? I think not.
The publisher nominated seven titles, one from each decade, for the so-called “Puffin of Puffins” (a clever play on the “Booker of Bookers” a couple of years ago, when Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was voted the best novel in the first 40 years of the Man Booker Prize).
In addition to Colfer and Dahl, the nominees were Eve Garnett’s The Family from One End Street; Clive King’s Stig of the Dump; Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mister Tom; Jeremy Strong’s The Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Dog.
Presumably most of the 10,000 votes cast came from children, with 68 percent of them polling for Colfer. I can’t help thinking Artemis Fowl had a huge advantage simply for being the most recent of the nominated books.
Today’s children, naturally, voted for today’s hot author –Colfer’s novels have sold 20 million copies worldwide, reports The Scotsman.
At the Guardian Alison Flood gently mocked inane comments by Puffin’s managing director Francesca Dow, who said, among other things, that Artemis Fowl is a book “very much for the 21st century.”
It’s revealing, though, that Flood’s pick just happens to be Magorian’s Goodnight Mr. Tom— the favorite from her own childhood in the ’80s. If she were a teenager today she likely would have voted for Colfer, too.
Flood does mount such a passionate argument for Goodnight Mr. Tom, it makes me want to go find the book right now.
For his part, Colfer is admirably modest about his win, calling it his “proudest professional moment,” and thanking the voters.
“Once you see Roald Dahl on a list, you just write yourself off immediately,” said Colfer, according to the Irish Times, adding: “I’m alive and I’ve a mailing list, so that was a bit of an advantage.”
So what do you think — is Colfer better than Roald Dahl? Are the English getting dumber by the year, if not the day? And while we’re on the subject of children’s books, what’s your favorite?