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Colfer, Eoin 1965-

Colfer, Eoin 1965-

Personal

First name pronounced "Ow-en"; born May 14, 1965, in Wexford, Ireland; son of Billy (a primary school teacher, artist, and historian) and Noreen (a drama teacher, actress, and writer) Colfer; married 1991; wife's name Jackie (a teacher); children: Finn, Seán. Education: Carysfort College, education diploma, 1986. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, theater, parachuting.

Addresses

Home—Wexford, Ireland.

Career

Writer, 2001—. Primary school teacher in Coolcots, Ireland, 1987-92 and 1996-2001; worked in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Italy, 1992-96.

Awards, Honors

White Raven Award, 1998, for Benny and Omar; Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, 2000, for Benny and Babe; Bisto Children's Book of the Year Merit Award, 2001, for The Wish List; Whitbread Children's Book of the Year shortlist, and Children's Book of the Year, British Book Awards, both 2001, Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, and Children's Book of the Year designation, W.H. Smith Book Awards, both 2002, all for Artemis Fowl; Irish World Literary Award, 2003; German Children's Book of the Year, 2004.

Writings

Benny and Omar, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1998, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Benny and Babe, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

The Wish List, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

The Legend of Spud Murphy, illustrated by Glenn McCoy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Supernaturalist, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth, illustrated by Glenn McCoy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

Half Moon Investigations, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

The Legend of the Worst Boy in the World, illustrated by Glenn McCoy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Airman, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to Click (collaborative novel), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2007.

"ARTEMIS FOWL" NOVEL SERIES

Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

The Arctic Incident, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

The Eternity Code, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

The Seventh Dwarf (story written for the Irish World Book Day celebration), Puffin (London, England), 2004.

The Artemis Fowl Files, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Opal Deception, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

The Lost Colony, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

(Adaptor, with Andrew Donkin) Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (based on the novel Artemis Fowl,), illustrated by Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

The Time Paradox, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2008.

Author's work has been translated into Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

"O'BRIEN FLYERS" SERIES

Going Potty, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

Ed's Funny Feet, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.

Ed's Bed, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2001.

Adaptations

Half Moon Investigations was adapted as a television series, British Broadcasting Corporation, 2009; Artemis Fowl was optioned for film.

Sidelights

Described by its author as "Die Hard with fairies," the middle-grade novel Artemis Fowl burst onto the book scene in 2001, and made its creator, Irish schoolteacher Eoin Colfer, the new wunderkind of children's literature. Colfer's humorous, high-tech fantasy about a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind started a bidding war among publishers and became the first in a series of immensely popular works about young Mr. Fowl. Since his breakthrough, Colfer has written such critically acclaimed books as Half Moon Investigations and Airman. "It's just like a dream," Colfer told Heather Vogel in a Publishers Weekly interview. "[A] fellow from a small town gets a big break. You never think it's going to happen to you."

The second of five sons born to school teachers, Colfer grew up in Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. His mother, Noreen, was a drama teacher and actress while his father taught primary school and was an artist and historian. "Understandably," Colfer wrote on his home page, "there was never a shortage of discussions, projects, artistic pursuits, or stimuli for the Colfer boys." They spent memorable summer holidays at the seaside village of Slade where Colfer's father was born. Young Colfer attended the grammar school where his father taught and early on developed a love of writing and of illustrating the stories he penned.

In secondary school, Colfer continued with his writing and began to read widely, enjoying especially the thrillers of Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins. At a dance at a local girls' school, he met his future wife, Jackie. Inspired by his parents, Colfer decided to go into teaching, entering a three-year degree course in Dublin to qualify as a primary school teacher. In 1986, he returned to his native Wexford to teach, writing by night, both stories and plays, many of which were performed by a local dramatic group. He also wrote a novel which he sent to publishers "with visions of black sedans pulling up to the house the next day," as he told Jeff Chu in Time Atlantic. "I thought I was the best writer on the planet." However, the publishers did not quite agree. Colfer's breakthrough was put on hold.

In 1991, Colfer and Jackie married, and the couple left Ireland for four years, teaching in Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Tunisia. When they returned to Ireland in the mid-1990s, Colfer and his wife settled once again in Wexford, and he resumed teaching, squeezing in writing after school. A son was born in 1997, by which time Colfer had begun processing some of the experiences of his four years abroad and saw how they might very well fit into a juvenile novel, an obvious fit for this teacher who was familiar with the reading habits of the young.

The result of Colfer's labors was his first published novel, Benny and Omar, brought out by Dublin's O'Brien Press in 1998. The novel recounts the madcap adventures of a young Irish boy and his Tunisian friend in North Africa. Benny Shaw is a champion athlete at Saint Jerome's school in Wexford, Ireland, and is quite content with his life. Then his parents tell him they have decided to move to Tunisia where the locals have never heard of his sport, hurling. The village school where Benny ends up "is taught by feel-good hippies and filled with students actually bent on learning," according to Linda Bindner in School Library Journal. Benny is miserable until he meets up with Omar, a street-smart kid who lives by his wits and takes Benny under his wing. Benny at first loves the thrill of the havoc they cause, going from one scrape to the next. Then he meets Omar's younger sister, a drug addict in a local institution, and suddenly understands the tragedy in Omar's life.

Bindner wrote of Benny and Omar that Colfer does a "masterful job of mixing humor and tragedy" in this "funny, fast-paced read … that takes a wonderful glimpse into some very non-American worlds." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly similarly found that Colfer "smoothly layers adventure, moments of poignancy and subtle social commentary, and his comic timing is pitch-perfect." Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn also had praise for this first novel, which became a bestseller in Ireland, and called it "an interesting and eye-opening study in contrasts" and a "comic adventure" that "likely will spawn a sequel."

In Benny and Babe Colfer's irrepressible protagonist is back in Ireland and visiting his grandfather in the country for the summer holiday. Benny is considered a "Townie" by the local kids and he has trouble finding a buddy until he meets up with the village tomboy, Babe, who has proven herself with the tough boys of the area. Babe and Benny hit it off, working together in Babe's business of finding lost fishing lures and flies and then reselling them. Things are going great for the friends until the bully Furty Howlin decides he wants part of their business. "Humor, sensitivity, and candor underscore this coming-of-age story that features incredibly well-drawn characters," wrote Renee Steinberg in a School Library Journal review of Benny and Babe. Steinberg went on to note that Colfer's second novel "has it all—an absorbing story, vibrant characters with whom readers will surely identify, and an on-target narrative voice." Benny and Babe was nominated for Ireland's prestigious Bisto Children's Book of the Year Award.

Next, Colfer turned his hand to a series for young readers aged five to seven. Ed Cooper is the character that figures in each of the titles: Going Potty, Ed's Funny Feet, and Ed's Bed. These tales find Ed alternately learning how to use a strange new toilet, having to wear corrective shoes, and dealing with a bed-wetting incident. In The Wish List the author spins a somewhat bizarre tale of "life, death and an unexpected hereafter," as Colfer himself described the novel on his home page. Winner of a Bisto Merit award, the book tells the story of an angry adolescent girl, Meg Finn, who sets out on a short-lived career of crime. Killed in the first chapter, Meg is given the rest of the novel as a chance to redeem herself; a moral tug of war ensues as the forces of good and evil battle for her soul. School Library Journal critic Janet Hilbun found The Wish List "an entertaining and compelling read," while Booklist critic Ilene Cooper called the work "surprisingly thought-provoking."

Dealing with fantasy of a sort for The Wish List, Colfer was encouraged to try more of the same, but this time with more humor and with the possibility of reaching a larger audience. As Colfer noted on his home page, "every child Eoin Colfer has ever taught will testify to his love of traditional magical Irish legends. They will also attest to his innate ability to make these legends come alive for them on a daily basis. It was in this genre he found his inspiration, but then took a unique slant on this well known underworld civilisation." Colfer blended this world of fairies and leprechauns with another constant interest, the Die Hard movies of Bruce Willis. "I really liked … [the film's] self-deprecating humor," Colfer told Vogel in Publishers Weekly. "They were big-budget action movies, but very much tongue-in-cheek, and I wanted to create an adventure with one foot in the comedy zone." So Colfer sat down to see how he could put these two genres together and knew that he had to do so employing a protagonist "original and different enough to make his mark and not just be the latest in line of clean-cut heroes," as he remarked to Vogel. He decided on a "a bit of a villain," and set the character to kidnap a leprechaun and demand a ransom in gold. "The twist being that these weren't the fairies you were used to reading about, but were actually quite futuristic," he explained. "It all fell into place after that." Colfer admitted to Vogel that he did not consciously set out to write a book that would appeal to both kids and adults, but he did "make a conscious effort to engage clever kids. The book doesn't talk down to them."

The finished manuscript, Artemis Fowl, ultimately proceeded to publication. Anti-hero Artemis is something of a boy genius and the last in a long line of a famous crime family who have lately fallen on hard times. Enlisting the help of his bodyguard, Butler, Artemis determines to restore the Fowl family wealth by capturing a fairy and then holding her ransom for all of the legendary fairy gold. He kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a leprechaun from LEPrecon, a branch of the Lower Elements Police and absolutely the wrong mark for Artemis to choose. He is set upon by a "wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who want to rescue Holly. These rescuers employ a good deal of elfin technology in their pursuit, while Artemis has to translate the arcana of the fairy folk's sacred book, employing a computer.

Reviewers made the inevitable comparisons to J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books, as both have twelve-year-old protagonists and both employ types of magic. However, there the similarity ends. Colfer, in fact, had not read the "Harry Potter" novels before writing Artemis Fowl. Critical response was as varied as the plot of the book itself. Some found the novel less than successful. A Horn Book reviewer, for example, felt that Colfer's "revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force … steal[s] focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself." The same reviewer noted that there is "a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story, and may be deployed to better effect in the feature film." Daniel Fi- erman, writing in Entertainment Weekly, felt that things turn "leaden" in the final "Die Hard-style standoff," and also found comparisons to J.K. Rowling's work specious, concluding that this demonstrates the difference "between a great children's book and a simply good one." Andrea Sachs, reviewing the novel in Time, wrote that "parents who might be worried about their children's reading a book glorifying extortion don't know the half of what's wrong with Artemis Fowl." Sachs felt that the writing "is abysmal." Writing in School Library Journal, Eva Mitnick found Artemis to be "too stiff and enigmatic to be interesting," while the contributor for Publishers Weekly concluded that "the series is no classic in the making."

Other critics found more to like in the novel. Library Journal reviewer Jennifer Baker commented that the "quirky characters and delightful humor … will undoubtedly delight American readers." Baker further described Artemis Fowl as "fun to read" and "full of good humor." Family Life contributor Sara Nelson similarly called the book "action-packed" and "perfect for long, lazy summer days." Yvonne Zipp noted in the Christian Science Monitor that, after a slow first chapter, "the action kicks into high gear and never stops." Time International critic Elinor Shields added to the chorus of praise, describing Artemis Fowl as "pacy, playful and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime," and Kate Kellaway, writing in the London Observer, dubbed Colfer's novel "a smart, amusing one-off" with "flashes of hi-tech invention."

Artemis Fowl goes into action for a second time in The Arctic Incident, in which the brilliant criminal teen returns to wander Colfer's magical underground world of fairies, trolls, satyrs, and gnomes. These creatures usually find themselves on the other side of the fence metaphorically from the "Mud People," or humans, who chased them underground. In the first installment, Artemis thought he had lost his beloved father, but via a video e-mail he sees a man who looks like his father sitting in the Arctic wasteland of Russia. Artemis wants to rescue this man, but not before he turns to his former enemies for some magical assistance. Meanwhile, below ground things are in a state of chaos after someone arms a band of trolls who wreaks havoc on the citizenry. Certain clues lead Captain Holly Short to Artemis, and in a turnaround from the first adventure, she kidnaps him in hopes of stopping the chaos. When she discovers Artemis is not responsible, the two former enemies join forces to fight both battles. Colfer's gun-toting, motorized fairies are back in action. "Once again," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly of this second installment, "the roller coaster of a plot introduces a host of high jinks and high-tech weaponry as Colfer blends derring-do with snappy prose." Writing in School Library Journal, Steven Engelfried found "the action … brisk, with fiendish plots, ingenious escapes, and lively battle scenes."

A year older, Artemis Fowl returns for a third adventure in The Eternity Code. This time, the teenager vies with a dangerous businessman over the supercomputer Artemis built using technology stolen from the fairy world. Hoping to earn a few dollars before destroying the C Cube machine, Fowl's plan to deceive the millionaire Jon Spiro crumbles as the businessman double-crosses Artemis, threatening the existence of the fairy world. Calling again for help from his underground friends, the young trickster battles Spiro in a tale filled with "agile prose …, rapid fire dialogue, and wise-acre humor," according to a Publishers Weekly critic. Writing in Booklist, Sally Estes favorably compared The Eternity Code to the two previous books, claiming that "the action is fast and furious, the humor is abundant, [and the] characterizations are zany."

After the release of The Artemis Fowl Files, a collection of short stories, games, and puzzles, Colfer wrote The Opal Deception, which pits the now-fourteen-year-old criminal against his archenemy, Opal Koboi, a pixie who plans to destroy the fairy world. According to Estes, Colfer's fourth novel in the series "has plenty of action as well as great humor and clever plot manipulations." In The Lost Colony, the protagonist battles demonic imps who journey to Earth via a time tunnel. Kay Weisman, writing in Booklist, praised the "witty wordplay and dialogue" in the fifth series installment. Artemis travels into his own past in an effort to undo a terrible wrong that could save his mother's life in The Time Paradox, which inspired School Library Journal critic Robyn Gioia to observe: "Colfer's love of science shines through in the story's inventions and clever use of engineering."

The success of the "Artemis Fowl" series allowed Colfer to become a full-time writer, and he has gone on to produce several other books for children and young adults. The Legend of Spud Murphy, a humorous chapter book, focuses on Will and Marty, a pair of rambunctious brothers who must spend their summer afternoons at the library. There they encounter Mrs. "Spud" Murphy, a no-nonsense librarian who is rumored to possess a gas-powered potato gun to keep unruly patrons in check. Young readers "will laugh out loud at this clever book," Christine McGinty remarked in School Library Journal. Will and Marty also appear in The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth and The Legend of the Worst Boy in the World.

The Supernaturalist, Colfer's dystopian science-fiction novel, centers on Cosmo Hill, a teenager who escapes from an orphanage that subjects its residents to medical experiments. After Cosmo is attacked by a Parasite—a creature that appears to feed off the dying—he is rescued by the Supernaturalists, a rebel group devoted to vanquishing the Parasites. The knowledge they gain on their missions, however, forces Cosmo and the Supernaturalists to question their objectives. "The action rarely lets up," Paula Rohrlick observed in Kliatt, and Saleena L. Davidson, writing in School Library Journal, remarked of The Supernaturalist that "the plot's twists and turns will keep readers totally engrossed until the last page."

A twelve-year-old detective is the focus of Half Moon Investigations, a "fast-paced romp," in the words of a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Fletcher Moon, a precocious crime-solver, is hired by classmate April Devereux to locate a lock of a pop star's hair that she bought online. Fletcher joins forces with Red Sharkey, the chief suspect in the case, to solve the crime. Set in the late nineteenth century, Airman concerns the adventures of Conor Broekhart, a teenager from the Saltee Islands who was born in the basket of an air balloon. When Conor witnesses the murder of King Nicholas, he is framed for the crime and imprisoned in the nightmarish world of the diamond mines. "Grippingly written, this is a fast-paced, highly entertaining tale of flying machines, criminals, martial arts, swordplay, princesses, poisons, and evil villains," stated Connie Tyrell Burns in School Library Journal.

Colfer's works have been praised for their complex, creative plots and fully developed characters. Discussing the source of his ideas, the author remarked on the Puffin Books Web site: "Inspiration comes from experience. My imagination is like a cauldron bubbling with all the things I've seen and places I've visited. My brain mixes them all up and regurgitates them in a way I hope is original."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Colfer, Eoin, Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2001, Frances Bradburn, review of Benny and Omar, p. 2118; May 1, 2002, Sally Estes, review of The Arctic Incident, p. 1518; June 1, 2003, Sally Estes, review of The Eternity Code, p. 1759; October 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Wish List, p. 330; May 15, 2005, Sally Estes, review of The Opal Deception, p. 1651; November 1, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of The Lost Colony, p. 50; November 15, 2007, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, p. 43; February 1, 2008, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Airman, p. 38.

Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2001, Yvonne Zipp, "The Un-Potter at the Rainbow's End," p. 20.

Entertainment Weekly, July 20, 2001, Daniel Fierman, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 62.

Family Life, June 1, 2001, Sara Nelson, "Summer Reads," p. 70.

Hollywood Reporter, May 29, 2001, Matthew Dorman, "Storybook Beginnings," pp. 14-15.

Horn Book, July-August, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 449; January-February, 2002, Patty Campbell, "YA Scorecard 2001," p. 117.

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, September, 2008, James Blasingame, review of Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, p. 87.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of The Supernaturalist, p. 440; March 1, 2006, review of Half Moon Investigations, p. 227.

Kliatt, May, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of The Supernaturalist, p. 8.

Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Jennifer Baker, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 102; November 1, 2001, Nancy Pearl, "Not Just for Kids," p. 160.

New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001, Gregory Maguire, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 24.

Observer (London, England), May 13, 2001, Kate Kellaway, "Elf and Happiness."

Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 75; April 23, 2001, Heather Vogel, "‘Die Hard’ with Fairies," pp. 25-26; July 9, 2001, review of Benny and Omar, p. 68; April 15, 2002, review of The Arctic Incident, p. 65; March 31, 2003, review of The Eternity Code, p. 68; October 13, 2003, review of The Wish List, p. 81; September 13, 2004, review of The Legend of Spud Murphy, p. 79; January 30, 2006, review of Half Moon Investigations, p. 70; November 12, 2007, review of Airman, p. 56.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Eva Mitnick, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 148; December, 2001, Linda Bindner, review of Benny and Omar, pp. 132-133; March, 2002, Renee Steinberg, review of Benny and Babe, p. 226; July, 2002, Steven Engelfried, review of The Arctic Incident, p. 118; July, 2003, Tim Wadham, review of The Eternity Code, p. 128; December, 2003, Janet Hilbun, review of The Wish List, p. 148; July, 2004, Saleena L. Davidson, review of The Supernaturalist, p. 102; October, 2004, Christine McGinty, review of The Legend of Spud Murphy, p. 110; December, 2004, Saleena L. Davidson, review of The Artemis Fowl Files, p. 144; July, 2005, Farida S. Dowler, review of The Opal Deception, p. 100; January, 2008, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of Airman, p. 116, and Dawn Rutherford, review of Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, p. 150; October, 2008, Robyn Gioia, review of The Time Paradox, p. 142.

Time, April 30, 2001, Andrea Sachs, "A Case of Fowl Play," p. 76.

Time Atlantic, May 7, 2001, Jeff Chu, "Legends of the Fowl," p. 56.

Time for Kids, August 6, 2008, Hannah Spicijaric, "A Backstage Chat with Eoin Colfer."

Time International, May 7, 2001, Elinor Shields, "A Magical Myth," p. 56.

Times Educational Supplement, May 11, 2001, Jan Mark, review of Artemis Fowl.

ONLINE

Artemis Fowl Web Site,http://www.artemisfowl.com (February 1, 2009).

BookPage Web Site,http://www.bookpage.com/ (February 1, 2009), Heidi Henneman, "Artemis Fowl Author Turns to Crime."

Eoin Colfer Home Page,http://www.eoincolfer.com (February 1, 2009).

Eoin Colfer Web Log,http://eoincolfer.com/news (February 1, 2009).

Puffin Books Web Site,http://www.puffin.co.uk/ (February 1, 2009), "Eoin Colfer."

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Colfer, Eoin 1965-

COLFER, Eoin 1965-

Personal

First name is pronounced "Ow-en"; born May 14, 1965, in Wexford, Ireland; son of Billy (a primary school teacher, artist, and historian) and Noreen (a drama teacher, actress, and writer) Colfer; married, 1991; wife's name, Jackie; children: Finn, Seán. Education: Teacher's training course, Dublin, Ireland, graduated 1986. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, theater, parachuting.


Addresses

Home Wexford, Ireland. Agent c/o Author Mail, Hyperion Books, 77 West 66th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10023.


Career

Writer. Primary school teacher, 1987-2001.


Awards, Honors

White Raven Award, 1998, for Benny and Omar; Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, 2000, for Benny and Babe; Bisto Children's Book of the Year Merit Award, 2001, for The Wish List; Whitbread Children's Book of the Year shortlist, and Children's Book of the Year, British Book Awards, both 2001, Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, and Children's Book of the Year, W. H. Smith Book Awards, both 2002, all for Artemis Fowl.


Writings


Benny and Omar, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1998.

Benny and Babe, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

The Wish List, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf (written for the Irish World Book Day celebration), Puffin (London, England), 2004.

The Legend of Spud Murphy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Supernaturalist, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.


Colfer's work has been translated into Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.


"O'BRIEN FLYERS" SERIES


Going Potty, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

Ed's Funny Feet, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.

Ed's Bed, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2001.


Adaptations

Artemis Fowl has been optioned for a film by Miramax.


Work in Progress

Another book in the "Artemis Fowl" series; a musical.


Sidelights

Described by its author as "Die Hard with fairies," the young adult fantasy Artemis Fowl burst onto the book scene in 2001, set to take over where the "Harry Potter" books left off and to make its creator, Irish school-teacher Eoin Colfer, the new wunderkind of children's literature. As Kate Kellaway noted in the London Observer, a line from the novel about a boy in search of fairy gods"Irish people skulking around rainbows hoping to win the supernatural lottery"was prescient. Kellaway remarked, "What Eoin Colfer did not know at the time was that he was about to strike gold himself." Colfer's humorous, high-tech fantasy about a twelve year old who kidnaps a leprechaun started a bidding war among publishers, was optioned for a film, and has been projected as the first in a series of novels about young Mr. Fowl. "It's just like a dream," Colfer told Heather Vogel in a Publishers Weekly interview. "[A] fellow from a small town gets a big break. You never think it's going to happen to you."


The second of five sons born to school teachers, Colfer grew up in Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. His mother, Noreen, was a drama teacher and actress while his father taught primary school and was an artist and historian. "Understandably," Colfer wrote on his Web site, "there was never a shortage of discussions, projects, artistic pursuits, or stimuli for the Colfer boys." They spent memorable summer holidays at the seaside village of Slade where Colfer's father was born. Young Colfer attended the grammar school where his father taught and early on developed a love of writing and of illustrating the stories he penned.


In secondary school, Colfer continued with his writing and began to read widely, enjoying especially the thrillers of Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins. At a dance at a local girls school, he met his future wife, Jackie. Inspired by his parents, Colfer decided to go into teaching, entering a three-year degree course in Dublin to qualify as a primary school teacher. In 1986, he returned to his native Wexford to teach, writing by night, both stories and plays, many of which were performed by a local dramatic group. He also wrote a novel which he sent to publishers "with visions of black sedans pulling up to the house the next day," as he told Jeff Chu in Time Atlantic. "I thought I was the best writer on the planet." However, the publishers did not quite agree. Colfer's breakthrough was put on hold.

In 1991, Colfer and Jackie married, and the couple left Ireland for four years, teaching in Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Tunisia. When they returned to Ireland in the mid-1990s, Colfer and his wife settled once again in Wexford, and he resumed teaching, squeezing in writing after school. A son was born in 1997, by which time Colfer had begun processing some of the experiences of his four years abroad and saw how they might very well fit into a juvenile novel, an obvious fit for this teacher who was familiar with the reading habits of the young.

The result of Colfer's labors was his first published novel, Benny and Omar, brought out by Dublin's O'Brien Press in 1998. The novel recounts the madcap adventures of a young Irish boy and his Tunisian friend in North Africa. Benny Shaw is a champion athlete at Saint Jerome's school in Wexford, Ireland, and is quite content with his life. Then his parents tell him they have decided to move to Tunisia where the locals have never heard of his sport, hurling. The village school where Benny ends up "is taught by feel-good hippies and filled with students actually bent on learning," according to Linda Bindner in School Library Journal. Benny is miserable until he meets up with Omar, a street-smart kid who lives by his wits and takes Benny under his wing. Benny at first loves the thrill of the havoc they cause, going from one scrape to the next until he meets Omar's younger sister, a drug addict in a local institution, and he suddenly understands the costs of Omar's life. Benny sees that his friend's life is much more tragic than he at first thought.

Bindner felt that Colfer does a "masterful job of mixing humor and tragedy" in this "funny, fast-paced read . . . that takes a wonderful glimpse into some very non-American worlds." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly similarly found that Colfer "smoothly layers adventure, moments of poignancy and subtle social commentary, and his comic timing is pitch-perfect." Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn also had praise for this first novel that became a bestseller in Ireland, calling it "an interesting and eye-opening study in contrasts" and a "comic adventure" that "likely will spawn a sequel."

Colfer did indeed reprise Benny for the 1999 Benny and Babe in which the irrepressible protagonist is back in Ireland and visiting his grandfather in the country for the summer holiday. Benny is considered a "Townie" by the local kids and has trouble finding a buddy until he meets up with the village tomboy, Babe, who has proven herself with the tough boys of the area. She and Benny hit it off, working together in Babe's business of finding lost fishing lures and flies and then reselling them. Things are going great for Benny and Babe until the bully Furty Howlin decides he wants part of their business. "Humor, sensitivity, and candor underscore this coming-of-age story that features incredibly well-drawn characters," wrote Renee Steinberg in a School Library Journal review of Benny and Babe. Steinberg went on to note that Colfer's second novel "has it allan absorbing story, vibrant characters with whom readers will surely identify, and an on-target narrative voice." Benny and Babe was nominated for Ireland's prestigious Bisto Children's Book of the Year Award.


Next, Colfer turned his hand to a series for young readers aged five to seven. Ed Cooper is the character that figures in each of the titles: Going Potty, Ed's Funny Feet, and Ed's Bed. These tales find Ed alternately learning how to use a strange new toilet, having to wear corrective shoes, and dealing with a bed-wetting incident. In 2000, he also published The Wish List, a somewhat bizarre tale of "life, death and an unexpected hereafter," as Colfer described the novel on his Web site. Winner of a Bisto Merit Award, the book tells the story of an angry adolescent girl, Meg Finn, who sets out on a short-lived career of crime. Killed in the first chapter, Meg is given the rest of the novel as a chance to redeem herself; a moral tug of war ensues as the forces of good and evil battle for her soul. School Library Journal critic Janet Hilbun found The Wish List "an entertaining and compelling read," while Booklist 's Ilene Cooper called the work "surprisingly thought-provoking."

Dealing with fantasy of a sort for The Wish List, Colfer was encouraged to try more of the same, but this time with more humor and with the possibility of reaching a larger audience. As was noted on Colfer's Web site, "every child Eoin Colfer has ever taught will testify to his love of traditional magical Irish legends. They will also attest to his innate ability to make these legends come alive for them on a daily basis. It was in this genre he found his inspiration, but then took a unique slant on this well known underworld civilisation." Colfer blended this world of fairies and leprechauns with another constant interest, the Die Hard movies of Bruce Willis. "I really liked . . . [the film's] self-deprecating humor," Colfer told Vogel in Publishers Weekly. "They were big-budget action movies, but very much tongue-in-cheek, and I wanted to create an adventure with one foot in the comedy zone." So Colfer sat down to see how he could put these two genres together and knew that he had to do so employing a protagonist "original and different enough to make his mark and not just be the latest in line of clean-cut heroes," as he remarked to Vogel. He decided on a "a bit of a villain," and set him to kidnap a leprechaun and demand a ransom in gold. "The twist being that these weren't the fairies you were used to reading about, but were actually quite futuristic," he explained. "It all fell into place after that." Colfer admitted to Vogel that he did not consciously set out to write a book that would appeal to both kids and adults, but he did "make a conscious effort to engage clever kids. The book doesn't talk down to them."


The finished manuscript, Artemis Fowl, was sent to a London agent in hopes of breaking out of the more confined Irish market. No one was more surprised than Colfer when his agent let him know that a bidding war on the novel was won by Penguin Puffin, with a sixfigure film deal sold to Miramax in the United States and rights sold in at least twenty other markets. The total package meant well over a million dollars for the book even before publication. "I was on yard duty worried about kids trying to blow their noses on my pants and others trying to jump off the roof, and I got this message," he told Matthew Dorman in Hollywood Reporter. "I understood all the words, but I didn't really know what it meant when I put them all together."

From its pre-publication success, Artemis Fowl proceeded to publication. Anti-hero Artemis is something of a boy genius and the last in a long line of a famous crime family who have lately fallen on hard times. Enlisting the help of his bodyguard, Butler, Artemis determines to restore the Fowl family wealth by capturing a fairy and then holding her ransom for all of the legendary fairy gold. He kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a leprechaun from LEPrecon, a branch of the Lower Elements Police and absolutely the wrong mark for Artemis to choose. He is set upon by a "wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who want to rescue Holly. These rescuers employ a good deal of elfin technology in their pursuit, while Artemis has to translate the arcana of the fairy folk's sacred book, employing a computer.

Reviewers made the inevitable comparisons to the "Harry Potter" books, as both have twelve-year-old protagonists and both employ types of magic. However, there the similarity ends. Colfer, in fact, had not read the "Harry Potter" novels before writing Artemis Fowl. Critical response was as varied as the plot of the book itself. Some found the novel less than successful. A Horn Book reviewer, for example, felt that Colfer's "revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force . . . steal[s] focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself." The same reviewer noted that there is "a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story, and may be deployed to better effect in the feature film." Daniel Fierman, writing in Entertainment Weekly, felt that things turn "leaden" in the final "Die Hard-style standoff," and also found comparisons to J. K. Rowling's work specious, concluding that this demonstrates the difference "between a great children's book and a simply good one." Andrea Sachs, reviewing the novel in Time, wrote that "parents who might be worried about their children's reading a book glorifying extortion don't know the half of what's wrong with Artemis Fowl. " Sachs felt that the writing "is abysmal." Writing in School Library Journal, Eva Mitnick found Artemis to be "too stiff and enigmatic to be interesting," while the contributor for Publishers Weekly concluded that "the series is no classic in the making."

Other critics found more to like in the novel. Library Journal reviewer Jennifer Baker commented that the "quirky characters and delightful humor . . . will undoubtedly delight American readers." Baker further described the novel as "fun to read" and "full of good humor." Family Life 's Sara Nelson similarly called the book "action-packed" and "perfect for long, lazy summer days." Yvonne Zipp noted in the Christian Science Monitor that after a slow first chapter, "the action kicks into high gear and never stops." Time International 's Elinor Shields added to the chorus of praise, describing the book as "pacy, playful and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime." And Kate Kellaway in the London Observer found Artemis Fowl "a smart, amusing one-off" with "flashes of hitech invention."

Artemis Fowl goes into action for a second time in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, in which the brilliant criminal teenager returns as does Colfer's magical underground world of fairies, trolls, satyrs, and gnomes who usually find themselves on the other side of the fence metaphorically from the "Mud People," or humans, who chased them underground. In the first installment, Artemis thought he had lost his beloved father, but via a video e-mail he sees a man who looks like his father sitting in the Arctic wasteland of Russia. Artemis wants to rescue this man, but not before he turns to his former enemies for some magical assistance. Meanwhile, below ground things are in a state of chaos after someone arms a band of trolls who wreaks havoc on the citizenry. Certain clues lead Captain Holly Short to Artemis, and in a turnaround from the first adventure, she kidnaps him in hopes of stopping the chaos. When she discovers Artemis is not responsible, the two former enemies join forces to fight both battles. Colfer's guntoting, motorized fairies are back in action.


"Once again," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly of this second installment, "the roller coaster of a plot introduces a host of high jinks and high-tech weaponry as Colfer blends derring-do with snappy prose." Writing in School Library Journal, Steven Engelfried found "the action . . . brisk, with fiendish plots, ingenious escapes, and lively battle scenes."


A year older, Artemis Fowl returns for a third adventure in Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code. This time, the teenager vies with a dangerous businessman over the supercomputer Artemis built using technology stolen from the fairy world. Hoping to earn a few dollars before destroying the C Cube machine, Fowl's plan to deceive the millionaire Jon Spiro crumbles as the businessman doublecrosses Artemis, threatening the existence of the fairy world. Calling again for help from his underground friends, the young trickster battles Spiro in a tale filled with "agile prose . . ., rapid fire dialogue, and wise-acre humor," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic, who predicted that "readers will burn the midnight oil to the finish." Writing in Booklist, Sally Estes favorably compared Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code to the two previous books, claiming "the action is fast and furious, the humor is abundant, [and the] characterizations are zany."


Biographical and Critical Sources


BOOKS


Colfer, Eoin, Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.


PERIODICALS


Booklist, August, 2001, Frances Bradburn, review of Benny and Omar, p. 2118; May 1, 2002, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 1518; June 1, 2003, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 1759; October 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Wish List, p. 330.

Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2001, Yvonne Zipp, "The un-Potter at the Rainbow's End," p. 20.

Entertainment Weekly, July 20, 2001, Daniel Fierman, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 62.

Family Life, June 1, 2001, Sara Nelson, "Summer Reads," p. 70.

Hollywood Reporter, May 29, 2001, Matthew Dorman, "Storybook Beginnings," pp. 14-15.

Horn Book, July-August, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 449; January-February, 2002, Patty Campbell, "YA Scorecard 2001," p. 117.

Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Jennifer Baker, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 102; November 1, 2001, Nancy Pearl, "Not Just for Kids," p. 160.

New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001, Gregory Maguire, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 24.

Observer (London, England), May 13, 2001, Kate Kellaway, "Elf and Happiness."

Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 75; April 23, 2001, Heather Vogel, "'Die Hard' with Fairies," pp. 25-26; July 9, 2001, review of Benny and Omar, p. 68; April 15, 2002, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 65; March 31, 2003, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 68; October 13, 2003, review of The Wish List, p. 81.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Eva Mitnick, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 148; December, 2001, Linda Bindner, review of Benny and Omar, pp. 132-133; March, 2002, Renee Steinberg, review of Benny and Babe, p. 226; July, 2002, Steven Engelfried, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 118; July, 2003, Tim Wadham, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 128; December, 2003, Janet Hilbun, review of The Wish List, p. 148.

Time, April 30, 2001, Andrea Sachs, "A Case of Fowl Play," p. 76.

Time Atlantic, May 7, 2001, Jeff Chu, "Legends of the Fowl," p. 56.

Time International, May 7, 2001, Elinor Shields, "A Magical Myth," p. 56.

Times Educational Supplement, May 11, 2001, Jan Mark, review of Artemis Fowl.


ONLINE


Artemis Fowl Web Site, http://www.artemisfowl.com/ (March 22, 2004).

Eoin Colfer Home Page, http://www.eoincolfer.com/ (March 22, 2004).*

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Colfer, Eoin 1965-

Colfer, Eoin 1965-

PERSONAL:

First name is pronounced "Owen"; born May 14, 1965, in Wexford, Ireland; son of Billy (a primary school teacher, artist, and historian) and Noreen (a drama teacher, actress, and writer) Colfer; married, 1991; wife's name Jackie; children: Finn, Seán. Education: Teacher's training course, Dublin, Ireland, graduated 1986. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, theater, parachuting.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Wexford, Ireland.

CAREER:

Writer. Primary school teacher, 1987-2001.

AWARDS, HONORS:

White Raven Award, 1998, for Benny and Omar; Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, 2000, for Benny and Babe; Bisto Children's Book of the Year Merit Award, 2001, for The Wish List; Whitbread Children's Book of the Year shortlist and British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year, both 2001, and Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination and W.H. Smith Book Award, both 2002, all for Artemis Fowl.

WRITINGS:

Benny and Omar, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1998.

Benny and Babe, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999, Miramax (New York, NY), 2007.

The Wish List, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf (written for the Irish World Book Day celebration), Puffin (London, England), 2004.

The Legend of Spud Murphy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Supernaturalist, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Artemis Fowl Files, Miramax/Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, Miramax/Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

Legend of—Captain Crow's Teeth, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

Half-Moon Investigations, Miramax/Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Miramax/Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

(With Andrew Donkin) Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (graphic novel adaptation of Artemis Fowl), illustrated by Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Airman, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2008.

Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2008.

"O'BRIEN FLYERS" SERIES

Going Potty, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

Ed's Funny Feet, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.

Ed's Bed, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2001.

Colfer's work has been translated into Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

ADAPTATIONS:

Artemis Fowl has been optioned for a film by Miramax. Numerous adventures of Artemis Fowl have been adapted for audio by Listening Library; Half-Moon Investigations was adapted for audio by Listening Library, 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Described by its author as "Die Hard with fairies," the young adult fantasy Artemis Fowl burst onto the book scene in 2001, set to take over where the "Harry Potter" books left off and to make its creator, Irish schoolteacher Eoin Colfer, the new wunderkind of children's literature. As Kate Kellaway noted in the London Observer, a line from the novel about a boy in search of fairy gods—"Irish people skulking around rainbows hoping to win the supernatural lottery"—was prescient. Kellaway remarked: "What Eoin Colfer did not know at the time was that he was about to strike gold himself." Colfer's humorous, high-tech fantasy about a twelve-year-old who kidnaps a leprechaun started a bidding war among publishers, was optioned for a film, and initiated a series of novels about young Mr. Fowl. "It's just like a dream," Colfer told Heather Vogel in a Publishers Weekly interview. "[A] fellow from a small town gets a big break. You never think it's going to happen to you."

The second of five sons born to schoolteachers, Colfer grew up in Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. His mother, Noreen, was a drama teacher and actress, while his father taught primary school and was an artist and historian. "Understandably," Colfer wrote on his Web site, "there was never a shortage of discussions, projects, artistic pursuits, or stimuli for the Colfer boys." They spent memorable summer holidays at the seaside village of Slade where Colfer's father was born. Young Colfer attended the grammar school where his father taught and early on developed a love of writing and of illustrating the stories he penned.

In secondary school, Colfer continued with his writing and began to read widely, enjoying especially the thrillers of Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins. At a dance at a local girls' school, he met his future wife, Jackie. Inspired by his parents, Colfer decided to go into teaching, entering a three-year degree course in Dublin to qualify as a primary school teacher. In 1986, he returned to his native Wexford to teach, writing by night, both stories and plays, many of which were performed by a local dramatic group. He also wrote a novel that he sent to publishers "with visions of black sedans pulling up to the house the next day," as he told Jeff Chu in Time Atlantic. "I thought I was the best writer on the planet." However, the publishers did not quite agree. Colfer's breakthrough was put on hold.

In 1991, Colfer and Jackie married, and the couple left Ireland for four years, teaching in Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Tunisia. When they returned to Ireland in the mid-1990s, Colfer and his wife settled once again in Wexford, and he resumed teaching, squeezing in writing after school. A son was born in 1997, by which time Colfer had begun processing some of the experiences of his four years abroad. He saw how they might very well be appropriate for a juvenile novel, an obvious fit for this teacher who was familiar with the reading habits of the young.

The result of Colfer's labors was his first published novel, Benny and Omar, brought out by Dublin's O'Brien Press in 1998. The novel recounts the madcap adventures of a young Irish boy and his Tunisian friend in North Africa. Benny Shaw is a champion athlete at Saint Jerome's school in Wexford, Ireland, and is quite content with his life. Then his parents tell him they have decided to move to Tunisia, where the locals have never heard of his sport, hurling. The village school where Benny ends up "is taught by feel-good hippies and filled with students actually bent on learning," according to Linda Bindner in School Library Journal. Benny is miserable until he meets up with Omar, a street-smart kid who lives by his wits and takes Benny under his wing. Benny at first loves the thrill of the havoc they cause, going from one scrape to the next until he meets Omar's younger sister, a drug addict in a local institution, and he suddenly understands the costs of Omar's life. Benny sees that his friend's life is much more tragic than he at first thought.

Bindner felt that Colfer does a "masterful job of mixing humor and tragedy" in this "funny, fast-paced read … that takes a wonderful glimpse into some very non-American worlds." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly similarly found that Colfer "smoothly layers adventure, moments of poignancy and subtle social commentary, and his comic timing is pitch-perfect." Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn also had praise for this first novel that became a best seller in Ireland, calling it "an interesting and eye-opening study in contrasts" and a "comic adventure" that "likely will spawn a sequel."

Colfer did indeed reprise Benny for the 1999 Benny and Babe, in which the irrepressible protagonist is back in Ireland and visiting his grandfather in the country for the summer holiday. Benny is considered a "Townie" by the local kids and has trouble finding a buddy until he meets up with the village tomboy, Babe, who has proven herself with the tough boys of the area. She and Benny hit it off, working together in Babe's business of finding lost fishing lures and flies and then reselling them. Things are going great for Benny and Babe until the bully Furty Howlin decides he wants part of their business. "Humor, sensitivity, and candor underscore this coming-of-age story that features incredibly well-drawn characters," wrote Renee Steinberg in a School Library Journal review of Benny and Babe. Steinberg went on to note that Colfer's second novel "has it all—an absorbing story, vibrant characters with whom readers will surely identify, and an on-target narrative voice." Benny and Babe was nominated for Ireland's prestigious Bisto Children's Book of the Year Award.

Next, Colfer turned his hand to a series for young readers aged five to seven. Ed Cooper is the character that figures in each of the titles: Going Potty, Ed's Funny Feet, and Ed's Bed. These tales find Ed alternately learning how to use a strange new toilet, having to wear corrective shoes, and dealing with a bed-wetting incident. In 2000, Colfer also published The Wish List, a somewhat bizarre tale of "life, death and an unexpected hereafter," as he described the novel on his Web site. Winner of a Bisto Merit Award, the book tells the story of an angry adolescent girl, Meg Finn, who sets out on a short-lived career of crime. Killed in the first chapter, Meg is given the rest of the novel as a chance to redeem herself; a moral tug-of-war ensues as the forces of good and evil battle for her soul. School Library Journal critic Janet Hilbun found The Wish List "an entertaining and compelling read," while Booklist's Ilene Cooper called the work "surprisingly thought-provoking."

Dealing with fantasy of a sort for The Wish List, Colfer was encouraged to try more of the same, but this time with more humor and with the possibility of reaching a larger audience. As was noted on Colfer's Web site, "every child Eoin Colfer has ever taught will testify to his love of traditional magical Irish legends. They will also attest to his innate ability to make these legends come alive for them on a daily basis. It was in this genre he found his inspiration, but then took a unique slant on this well known underworld civilisation." Colfer blended this world of fairies and leprechauns with another constant interest, the Die Hard movies of Bruce Willis. "I really liked [the film's] self-deprecating humor," Colfer told Heather Vogel in Publishers Weekly. "They were big-budget action movies, but very much tongue-in-cheek, and I wanted to create an adventure with one foot in the comedy zone." So Colfer sat down to see how he could put these two genres together and knew that he had to do so employing a protagonist "original and different enough to make his mark and not just be the latest in line of clean-cut heroes," as he remarked to Vogel. He decided on "a bit of a villain," and set him to kidnap a leprechaun and demand a ransom in gold. "The twist being that these weren't the fairies you were used to reading about, but were actually quite futuristic," he explained. "It all fell into place after that." Colfer admitted to Vogel that he did not consciously set out to write a book that would appeal to both kids and adults, but he did "make a conscious effort to engage clever kids. The book doesn't talk down to them."

The finished manuscript, Artemis Fowl, was sent to a London agent in hopes of breaking out of the more confined Irish market. No one was more surprised than Colfer when his agent let him know that a bidding war on the novel was won by Penguin Group's Puffin Books, with a six-figure film deal sold to Miramax in the United States and rights sold in at least twenty other markets. The total package meant well over a million dollars for the book even before publication. "I was on yard duty worried about kids trying to blow their noses on my pants and others trying to jump off the roof, and I got this message," he told Matthew Dorman in the Hollywood Reporter. "I understood all the words, but I didn't really know what it meant when I put them all together."

From its prepublication success, Artemis Fowl proceeded to publication. Antihero Artemis is something of a boy genius and the last in a long line of a famous crime family who have lately fallen on hard times. Enlisting the help of his bodyguard, Butler, Artemis determines to restore the Fowl family wealth by capturing a fairy and then holding her ransom for all of the legendary fairy gold. He kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a leprechaun from LEPrecon, a branch of the Lower Elements Police and absolutely the wrong mark for Artemis to choose. He is set upon by a "wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies" who want to rescue Holly, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. These rescuers employ a good deal of elfin technology in their pursuit, while Artemis has to translate the arcana of the fairy folk's sacred book, employing a computer.

Reviewers made the inevitable comparisons to the "Harry Potter" books, as both have twelve-year-old protagonists and both employ types of magic. However, there the similarity ends. Colfer, in fact, had not read the "Harry Potter" novels before writing Artemis Fowl. Critical response was as varied as the plot of the book itself. Some found the novel less than successful. A Horn Book reviewer, for example, felt that Colfer's "revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force … steal[s] focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself." The same reviewer noted that there is "a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story, and may be deployed to better effect in the feature film." Daniel Fierman, writing in Entertainment Weekly, felt that things turn "leaden" in the final "Die Hard-style standoff," and also found comparisons to J.K. Rowling's work specious, concluding that this demonstrates the difference "between a great children's book and a simply good one." Andrea Sachs, reviewing the novel in Time, wrote that "parents who might be worried about their children's reading a book glorifying extortion don't know the half of what's wrong with Artemis Fowl." Sachs felt that the writing "is abysmal." Writing in School Library Journal, Eva Mitnick found Artemis to be "too stiff and enigmatic to be interesting," while a contributor for Publishers Weekly concluded that "the series is no classic in the making."

Other critics found more to like in the novel. Library Journal reviewer Jennifer Baker commented that the "quirky characters and delightful humor … will undoubtedly delight American readers." Baker further described the novel as "fun to read" and "full of good humor." Family Life contributor Sara Nelson similarly called the book "action-packed" and "perfect for long, lazy summer days." Yvonne Zipp noted in the Christian Science Monitor that after a slow first chapter, "the action kicks into high gear and never stops." Time International reviewer Elinor Shields added to the chorus of praise, describing the book as "pacy, playful and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime." And Kellaway found Artemis Fowl "a smart, amusing one-off" with "flashes of hi-tech invention."

Artemis Fowl goes into action for a second time in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, in which the brilliant criminal teenager returns, along with Colfer's magical underground world of fairies, trolls, satyrs, and gnomes who usually find themselves on the other side of the fence metaphorically from the "Mud People," or humans, who chased them underground. In the first installment, Artemis thought he had lost his beloved father, but via a video e-mail he sees a man who looks like his father sitting in the Arctic wasteland of Russia. Artemis wants to rescue this man, but not before he turns to his former enemies for some magical assistance. Meanwhile, below ground, things are in a state of chaos after someone arms a band of trolls that wreak havoc on the citizenry. Certain clues lead Captain Holly Short to Artemis, and in a turnaround from the first adventure, she kidnaps him in hopes of stopping the chaos. When she discovers Artemis is not responsible, the two former enemies join forces to fight both battles. Colfer's guntoting, motorized fairies are back in action.

"Once again," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly of this second volume, "the roller coaster of a plot introduces a host of high jinks and high-tech weaponry as Colfer blends derring-do with snappy prose." Writing in School Library Journal, Steven Engelfried found "the action … brisk, with fiendish plots, ingenious escapes, and lively battle scenes."

A year older, Artemis Fowl returns for a third adventure in Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code. This time, the teenager vies with a dangerous businessman over the supercomputer Artemis built using technology stolen from the fairy world. Hoping to earn a few dollars before destroying the C Cube machine, Fowl plans to deceive the millionaire Jon Spiro, but the businessman double-crosses Artemis, threatening the very existence of the fairy world. Calling again for help from his underground friends, the young trickster battles Spiro in a tale filled with "agile prose …, rapid-fire dialogue, and wise-acre humor," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic, who predicted that "readers will burn the midnight oil to the finish." Writing in Booklist, Sally Estes favorably compared Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code to the two previous books, claiming that "the action is fast and furious, the humor is abundant, [and the] characterizations are zany."

The further adventures of Artemis Fowl are presented in several other publications. The 2004 book titled The Artemis Fowl Files is a companion volume, a gathering of short stories, as well as games and puzzles dealing with fairy code and the troll alphabet. One of the short stories tells how Captain Holly Short joined the LEP. School Library Journal reviewer Saleena L. Davidson thought that "this volume will give all of those Fowler fans something to read while waiting for the next book."

Readers did not have long to wait. In Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, Artemis, now fourteen, is pitted against a villainous pixie named Opal Koboi, who sets out to ruin the fairy world and Artemis along with it. Opal is seeking twisted revenge on all who have, in the past, foiled her plans to destroy the fairies. Now she tries to make Captain Holly Short of the Fairy Police appear responsible for the death of Holly's supervisor. Artemis and Holly must again join forces in order to defeat Opal. Writing in Kliatt, Paula Rohrlick had praise for "the comic book-like action and humor, as well as the wacky characters and clever gadgets" in this installment of the series.

More fairy lore and danger is served up in Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, in which the fairy world is threatened by demons who travel through a time tunnel and can, if humans begin to notice their presence, bring the fairy world to extinction. The fairies once again turn to Artemis to try to save them, and he in turn teams up with Holly Short, no longer with the police, but now a private investigator. Short's partner in investigation is a former criminal, Mulch Diggums the dwarf. These are also joined by the techno-nerd Foaly the centaur in "another magical page-turner," as Long Long Time Ago reviewer Rohini Chowdhury termed the novel.

Colfer has also continued to introduce interesting and humorous books and characters apart from those featuring Artemis Fowl. In Half-Moon Investigations, he introduces a twelve-year-old protagonist, Fletcher Moon, who is nicknamed Half-Moon because of his size. But there is nothing small about his detecting abilities, for he has a badge that he earned from an online school for detectives. Hired by a ten-year-old fellow student, Fletcher soon runs afoul of the rather notorious Sharkey brothers. However, Fletcher must partner with the Sharkeys in the end if he is to solve numerous crimes and problems his investigations have turned up. Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin felt that Fletcher's "goofy charm and stubborn dedication to crime solving will win him a hefty, enthusiastic following." For School Library Journal writer Walter Minkel, Half-Moon Investigations was a "typically funny Colfer offering … [that] wittily delivers the message that some people aren't—for good or ill—who they appear to be." Further praise came from a Kirkus Reviews critic who called the book a "fast-paced romp," and from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who found Fletcher's adventures "hilarious."

With the 2008 book Airman, Colfer offers a standalone adventure set in the nineteenth century and featuring an intrepid hot-air ballooner named Conor. A Kirkus Reviews critic termed this a "savage, enthralling melodrama." Imprisoned in the local diamond mines by the arch-villain, Bonvilain, Conor stages an escape via balloon that leads to a high-stakes chase. A Publishers Weekly reviewer considered the book "an homage [to the] science fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and to the superheroes of Marvel and DC comics."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Colfer, Eoin, Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2001, Frances Bradburn, review of Benny and Omar, p. 2118; May 1, 2002, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 1518; June 1, 2003, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 1759; October 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Wish List, p. 330; May 15, 2005, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, p. 1651; May 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Half-Moon Investigations, p. 48; November 1, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, p. 50; November 15, 2007, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, p. 43.

Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2001, Yvonne Zipp, "The Un-Potter at the Rainbow's End," p. 20.

Entertainment Weekly, July 20, 2001, Daniel Fierman, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 62.

Family Life, June 1, 2001, Sara Nelson, "Summer Reads," p. 70.

Hollywood Reporter, May 29, 2001, Matthew Dorman, "Storybook Beginnings," pp. 14-15.

Horn Book, July-August, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 449; January-February, 2002, Patty Campbell, "YA Scorecard 2001," p. 117; July-August, 2006, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Half-Moon Investigations, p. 436.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2006, review of Half-Moon Investigations, p. 227; November 15, 2007, review of Airman.

Kliatt, July, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 28; July, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, p. 8; May, 2007, Carol Reich, review of Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, p. 44.

Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Jennifer Baker, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 102; November 1, 2001, Nancy Pearl, "Not Just for Kids," p. 160.

New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001, Gregory Maguire, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 24.

Observer (London, England), May 13, 2001, Kate Kellaway, "Elf and Happiness."

Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 75; April 23, 2001, Heather Vogel, "‘Die Hard’ with Fairies," pp. 25-26; July 9, 2001, review of Benny and Omar, p. 68; April 15, 2002, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 65; March 31, 2003, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 68; October 13, 2003, review of The Wish List, p. 81; October 18, 2004, "And Then What Happened?" p. 66; March 28, 2005, "The Next Chapter," p. 81; January 30, 2006, review of Half-Moon Investigations, p. 70; November 12, 2007, review of Airman, p. 56.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Eva Mitnick, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 148; December, 2001, Linda Bindner, review of Benny and Omar, pp. 132-133; March, 2002, Renee Steinberg, review of Benny and Babe, p. 226; July, 2002, Steven Engelfried, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 118; July, 2003, Tim Wadham, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 128; December, 2003, Janet Hilbun, review of The Wish List, p. 148; December, 2004, Saleena L. Davidson, review of The Artemis Fowl Files, p. 144; July, 2005, Farida S. Dowler, review of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, p. 100; April, 2006, Walter Minkel, review of Half-Moon Investigations, p. 136.

Time, April 30, 2001, Andrea Sachs, "A Case of Fowl Play," p. 76.

Time Atlantic, May 7, 2001, Jeff Chu, "Legends of the Fowl," p. 56.

Time International, May 7, 2001, Elinor Shields, "A Magical Myth," p. 56.

Times Educational Supplement, May 11, 2001, Jan Mark, review of Artemis Fowl.

ONLINE

AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (February 15, 2006), review of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception.

Artemis Fowl Web site,http://www.artemisfowl.com (February 15, 2008).

CBBC Newsround,http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/ (September 11, 2007), review of Half-Moon Investigations.

Eoin Colfer Home Page,http://www.eoincolfer.com (February 15, 2008).

Long Long Time Ago,http://www.longlongtimeago.com/ (February 15, 2008), Rohini Chowdhury, review of Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony.

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Colfer, Eoin 1965-

COLFER, Eoin 1965-

PERSONAL: First name is pronounced "Ow-en"; born May 14, 1965, in Wexford, Ireland; son of Billy (a primary school teacher, artist, and historian) and Noreen (a drama teacher, actress, and writer) Colfer; married, 1991; wife's name Jackie; children: Finn, Seán.

Education: Teacher's training course, Dublin, Ireland, graduated 1986. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, theater, parachuting.

ADDRESSES: Home—Wexford, Ireland. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion Books, 77 West 66th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10023.

CAREER: Writer. Primary school teacher, 1987-2001.

AWARDS, HONORS: White Raven Award, 1998, for Benny and Omar; Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, 2000, for Benny and Babe; Bisto Children's Book of the Year Merit Award, 2001, for The Wish List; Whitbread Children's Book of the Year shortlist, and Children's Book of the Year, British Book Awards, both 2001, Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination, and Children's Book of the Year, W. H. Smith Book Awards, both 2002, all for Artemis Fowl.

WRITINGS:

Benny and Omar, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1998.

Benny and Babe, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

The Wish List, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf (written for the Irish World Book Day celebration), Puffin (London, England), 2004.

The Legend of Spud Murphy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Supernaturalist, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

"o'brien flyers" series

Going Potty, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

Ed's Funny Feet, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.

Ed's Bed, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2001.

Colfer's work has been translated into Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

ADAPTATIONS: Artemis Fowl has been optioned for a film by Miramax.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Another book in the "Artemis Fowl" series; a musical.

SIDELIGHTS: Described by its author as "Die Hard with fairies," the young adult fantasy Artemis Fowl burst onto the book scene in 2001, set to take over where the "Harry Potter" books left off and to make its creator, Irish schoolteacher Eoin Colfer, the new wunderkind of children's literature. As Kate Kellaway noted in the London Observer, a line from the novel about a boy in search of fairy gods—"Irish people skulking around rainbows hoping to win the supernatural lottery"—-was prescient. Kellaway remarked, "What Eoin Colfer did not know at the time was that he was about to strike gold himself." Colfer's humorous, high-tech fantasy about a twelve-year-old who kidnaps a leprechaun started a bidding war among publishers, was optioned for a film, and has been projected as the first in a series of novels about young Mr. Fowl. "It's just like a dream," Colfer told Heather Vogel in a Publishers Weekly interview. "[A] fellow from a small town gets a big break. You never think it's going to happen to you."

The second of five sons born to school teachers, Colfer grew up in Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. His mother, Noreen, was a drama teacher and actress while his father taught primary school and was an artist and historian. "Understandably," Colfer wrote on his Web site, "there was never a shortage of discussions, projects, artistic pursuits, or stimuli for the Colfer boys." They spent memorable summer holidays at the seaside village of Slade where Colfer's father was born. Young Colfer attended the grammar school where his father taught and early on developed a love of writing and of illustrating the stories he penned.

In secondary school, Colfer continued with his writing and began to read widely, enjoying especially the thrillers of Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins. At a dance at a local girls school, he met his future wife, Jackie. Inspired by his parents, Colfer decided to go into teaching, entering a three-year degree course in Dublin to qualify as a primary school teacher. In 1986, he returned to his native Wexford to teach, writing by night, both stories and plays, many of which were performed by a local dramatic group. He also wrote a novel which he sent to publishers "with visions of black sedans pulling up to the house the next day," as he told Jeff Chu in Time Atlantic. "I thought I was the best writer on the planet." However, the publishers did not quite agree. Colfer's breakthrough was put on hold.

In 1991, Colfer and Jackie married, and the couple left Ireland for four years, teaching in Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Tunisia. When they returned to Ireland in the mid-1990s, Colfer and his wife settled once again in Wexford, and he resumed teaching, squeezing in writing after school. A son was born in 1997, by which time Colfer had begun processing some of the experiences of his four years abroad and saw how they might very well fit into a juvenile novel, an obvious fit for this teacher who was familiar with the reading habits of the young.

The result of Colfer's labors was his first published novel, Benny and Omar, brought out by Dublin's O'Brien Press in 1998. The novel recounts the madcap adventures of a young Irish boy and his Tunisian friend in North Africa. Benny Shaw is a champion athlete at Saint Jerome's school in Wexford, Ireland, and is quite content with his life. Then his parents tell him they have decided to move to Tunisia where the locals have never heard of his sport, hurling. The village school where Benny ends up "is taught by feel-good hippies and filled with students actually bent on learning," according to Linda Bindner in School Library Journal. Benny is miserable until he meets up with Omar, a street-smart kid who lives by his wits and takes Benny under his wing. Benny at first loves the thrill of the havoc they cause, going from one scrape to the next until he meets Omar's younger sister, a drug addict in a local institution, and he suddenly understands the costs of Omar's life. Benny sees that his friend's life is much more tragic than he at first thought.

Bindner felt that Colfer does a "masterful job of mixing humor and tragedy" in this "funny, fast-paced read … that takes a wonderful glimpse into some very non-American worlds." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly similarly found that Colfer "smoothly layers adventure, moments of poignancy and subtle social commentary, and his comic timing is pitch-perfect." Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn also had praise for this first novel that became a best-seller in Ireland, calling it "an interesting and eye-opening study in contrasts" and a "comic adventure" that "likely will spawn a sequel."

Colfer did indeed reprise Benny for the 1999 Benny and Babe in which the irrepressible protagonist is back in Ireland and visiting his grandfather in the country for the summer holiday. Benny is considered a "Townie" by the local kids and has trouble finding a buddy until he meets up with the village tomboy, Babe, who has proven herself with the tough boys of the area. She and Benny hit it off, working together in Babe's business of finding lost fishing lures and flies and then reselling them. Things are going great for Benny and Babe until the bully Furty Howlin decides he wants part of their business. "Humor, sensitivity, and candor underscore this coming-of-age story that features incredibly well-drawn characters," wrote Renee Steinberg in a School Library Journal review of Benny and Babe. Steinberg went on to note that Colfer's second novel "has it all—an absorbing story, vibrant characters with whom readers will surely identify, and an on-target narrative voice." Benny and Babe was nominated for Ireland's prestigious Bisto Children's Book of the Year Award.

Next, Colfer turned his hand to a series for young readers aged five to seven. Ed Cooper is the character that figures in each of the titles: Going Potty, Ed's Funny Feet, and Ed's Bed. These tales find Ed alternately learning how to use a strange new toilet, having to wear corrective shoes, and dealing with a bedwetting incident. In 2000, Colfer also published The Wish List, a somewhat bizarre tale of "life, death and an unexpected hereafter," as he described the novel on his Web site. Winner of a Bisto Merit Award, the book tells the story of an angry adolescent girl, Meg Finn, who sets out on a short-lived career of crime. Killed in the first chapter, Meg is given the rest of the novel as a chance to redeem herself; a moral tug of war ensues as the forces of good and evil battle for her soul. School Library Journal critic Janet Hilbun found The Wish List "an entertaining and compelling read," while Booklist's Ilene Cooper called the work "surprisingly thought-provoking."

Dealing with fantasy of a sort for The Wish List, Colfer was encouraged to try more of the same, but this time with more humor and with the possibility of reaching a larger audience. As was noted on Colfer's Web site, "every child Eoin Colfer has ever taught will testify to his love of traditional magical Irish legends. They will also attest to his innate ability to make these legends come alive for them on a daily basis. It was in this genre he found his inspiration, but then took a unique slant on this well known underworld civilisation." Colfer blended this world of fairies and leprechauns with another constant interest, the Die Hard movies of Bruce Willis. "I really liked … [the film's] self-deprecating humor," Colfer told Heather Vogel in Publishers Weekly. "They were big-budget action movies, but very much tongue-in-cheek, and I wanted to create an adventure with one foot in the comedy zone." So Colfer sat down to see how he could put these two genres together and knew that he had to do so employing a protagonist "original and different enough to make his mark and not just be the latest in line of clean-cut heroes," as he remarked to Vogel. He decided on "a bit of a villain," and set him to kidnap a leprechaun and demand a ransom in gold. "The twist being that these weren't the fairies you were used to reading about, but were actually quite futuristic," he explained. "It all fell into place after that." Colfer admitted to Vogel that he did not consciously set out to write a book that would appeal to both kids and adults, but he did "make a conscious effort to engage clever kids. The book doesn't talk down to them."

The finished manuscript, Artemis Fowl, was sent to a London agent in hopes of breaking out of the more confined Irish market. No one was more surprised than Colfer when his agent let him know that a bidding war on the novel was won by Penguin Puffin, with a six-figure film deal sold to Miramax in the United States and rights sold in at least twenty other markets. The total package meant well over a million dollars for the book even before publication. "I was on yard duty worried about kids trying to blow their noses on my pants and others trying to jump off the roof, and I got this message," he told Matthew Dorman in the Hollywood Reporter. "I understood all the words, but I didn't really know what it meant when I put them all together."

From its prepublication success, Artemis Fowl proceeded to publication. Antihero Artemis is something of a boy genius and the last in a long line of a famous crime family who have lately fallen on hard times. Enlisting the help of his bodyguard, Butler, Artemis determines to restore the Fowl family wealth by capturing a fairy and then holding her ransom for all of the legendary fairy gold. He kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a leprechaun from LEPrecon, a branch of the Lower Elements Police and absolutely the wrong mark for Artemis to choose. He is set upon by a "wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who want to rescue Holly. These rescuers employ a good deal of elfin technology in their pursuit, while Artemis has to translate the arcana of the fairy folk's sacred book, employing a computer.

Reviewers made the inevitable comparisons to the "Harry Potter" books, as both have twelve-year-old protagonists and both employ types of magic. However, there the similarity ends. Colfer, in fact, had not read the "Harry Potter" novels before writing Artemis Fowl. Critical response was as varied as the plot of the book itself. Some found the novel less than successful. A Horn Book reviewer, for example, felt that Colfer's "revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force … steal[s] focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself." The same reviewer noted that there is "a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story, and may be deployed to better effect in the feature film." Daniel Fierman, writing in Entertainment Weekly, felt that things turn "leaden" in the final "Die Hard-style standoff," and also found comparisons to J. K. Rowling's work specious, concluding that this demonstrates the difference "between a great children's book and a simply good one." Andrea Sachs, reviewing the novel in Time, wrote that "parents who might be worried about their children's reading a book glorifying extortion don't know the half of what's wrong with Artemis Fowl." Sachs felt that the writing "is abysmal." Writing in School Library Journal, Eva Mitnick found Artemis to be "too stiff and enigmatic to be interesting," while the contributor for Publishers Weekly concluded that "the series is no classic in the making."

Other critics found more to like in the novel. Library Journal reviewer Jennifer Baker commented that the "quirky characters and delightful humor … will undoubtedly delight American readers." Baker further described the novel as "fun to read" and "full of good humor." Family Life's Sara Nelson similarly called the book "action-packed" and "perfect for long, lazy summer days." Yvonne Zipp noted in the Christian Science Monitor that after a slow first chapter, "the action kicks into high gear and never stops." Time International's Elinor Shields added to the chorus of praise, describing the book as "pacy, playful and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime." And Kellaway found Artemis Fowl "a smart, amusing one-off" with "flashes of hi-tech invention."

Artemis Fowl goes into action for a second time in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, in which the brilliant criminal teenager returns as does Colfer's magical underground world of fairies, trolls, satyrs, and gnomes who usually find themselves on the other side of the fence metaphorically from the "Mud People," or humans, who chased them underground. In the first installment, Artemis thought he had lost his beloved father, but via a video e-mail he sees a man who looks like his father sitting in the Arctic wasteland of Russia. Artemis wants to rescue this man, but not before he turns to his former enemies for some magical assistance. Meanwhile, below ground things are in a state of chaos after someone arms a band of trolls who wreaks havoc on the citizenry. Certain clues lead Captain Holly Short to Artemis, and in a turnaround from the first adventure, she kidnaps him in hopes of stopping the chaos. When she discovers Artemis is not responsible, the two former enemies join forces to fight both battles. Colfer's gun-toting, motorized fairies are back in action.

"Once again," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly of this second installment, "the roller coaster of a plot introduces a host of high jinks and high-tech weaponry as Colfer blends derring-do with snappy prose." Writing in School Library Journal, Steven Engelfried found "the action … brisk, with fiendish plots, ingenious escapes, and lively battle scenes."

A year older, Artemis Fowl returns for a third adventure in Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code. This time, the teenager vies with a dangerous businessman over the supercomputer Artemis built using technology stolen from the fairy world. Hoping to earn a few dollars before destroying the C Cube machine, Fowl plans to deceive the millionaire Jon Spiro, but the businessman doublecrosses Artemis, threatening the existence of the fairy world. Calling again for help from his underground friends, the young trickster battles Spiro in a tale filled with "agile prose …, rapid-fire dialogue, and wise-acre humor," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic, who predicted that "readers will burn the midnight oil to the finish." Writing in Booklist, Sally Estes favorably compared Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code to the two previous books, claiming, "The action is fast and furious, the humor is abundant, [and the] characterizations are zany."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

books

Colfer, Eoin, Artemis Fowl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

periodicals

Booklist, August, 2001, Frances Bradburn, review of Benny and Omar, p. 2118; May 1, 2002, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 1518; June 1, 2003, Sally Estes, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 1759; October 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Wish List, p. 330.

Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2001, Yvonne Zipp, "The Un-Potter at the Rainbow's End," p. 20.

Entertainment Weekly, July 20, 2001, Daniel Fierman, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 62.

Family Life, June 1, 2001, Sara Nelson, "Summer Reads," p. 70.

Hollywood Reporter, May 29, 2001, Matthew Dorman, "Storybook Beginnings," pp. 14-15.

Horn Book, July-August, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 449; January-February, 2002, Patty Campbell, "YA Scorecard 2001," p. 117.

Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Jennifer Baker, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 102; November 1, 2001, Nancy Pearl, "Not Just for Kids," p. 160.

New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001, Gregory Maguire, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 24.

Observer (London, England), May 13, 2001, Kate Kellaway, "Elf and Happiness."

Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2001, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 75; April 23, 2001, Heather Vogel, "'Die Hard' with Fairies," pp. 25-26; July 9, 2001, review of Benny and Omar, p. 68; April 15, 2002, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 65; March 31, 2003, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 68; October 13, 2003, review of The Wish List, p. 81.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Eva Mitnick, review of Artemis Fowl, p. 148; December, 2001, Linda Bindner, review of Benny and Omar, pp. 132-133; March, 2002, Renee Steinberg, review of Benny and Babe, p. 226; July, 2002, Steven Engelfried, review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, p. 118; July, 2003, Tim Wadham, review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, p. 128; December, 2003, Janet Hilbun, review of The Wish List, p. 148.

Time, April 30, 2001, Andrea Sachs, "A Case of Fowl Play," p. 76.

Time Atlantic, May 7, 2001, Jeff Chu, "Legends of the Fowl," p. 56.

Time International, May 7, 2001, Elinor Shields, "A Magical Myth," p. 56.

Times Educational Supplement, May 11, 2001, Jan Mark, review of Artemis Fowl.

online

Artemis Fowl Web site, http://www.artemisfowl.com/ (March 22, 2004).

Eoin Colfer Home Page, http://www.eoincolfer.com/ (March 22, 2004).*

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Colfer, Eoin 1965-

Eoin Colfer
1965-

INTRODUCTION
PRINCIPAL WORKS
AUTHOR COMMENTARY
TITLE COMMENTARY
FURTHER READING

Irish young adult novelist, short-story writer, and author of picture books and juvenile novels.

The following entry presents an overview of Colfer's career through 2006.

INTRODUCTION

Although his first six children's books brought Colfer modest success and localized popularity in Ireland, the publication of his young adult novel Artemis Fowl (2001) catapulted the author into international literary acclaim and recognition. Blending elements of fantasy, science fiction, and espionage, Colfer's Artemis Fowl series presents fast paced narratives for young readers which revel in wordplay, thrills, and scatological humor. Throughout the Fowl novels, Colfer breaks genre conventions by casting a charismatic, though amoral criminal as his protagonist and equipping mythological creatures such as fairies and elves with state-of-the-art technology and mundane personalities. Though Colfer admits to several modern influences—he has famously described Artemis Fowl as "Die Hard with fairies"—literary critics have frequently compared Colfer's magic-driven texts with such works as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Eoin (pronounced "Owen") Colfer was born on May 14, 1965, in Wexford, Ireland, the second of five children. His parents were both involved in the arts—his father, Billy, was an elementary school teacher and painter, while his mother, Noreen, was an actress, drama teacher, and writer. Colfer learned to love books at an early age, devouring thrillers by such authors as Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins. After completing secondary school, Colfer enrolled at Carysfort College, Dublin, to earn his teaching certificate. Following in his parents' footsteps, he returned to Wexford to teach primary school and joined a theatre group. In 1991 Colfer married Jackie, a childhood friend, with whom he has two children, Finn and Sean. Shortly after they wed, the couple spent four years living abroad in Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Tunisia. Colfer's first novel, Benny and Omar (1998), is based on his experiences in Tunisia and his vision of a child's perspective of displacement and adventure in a foreign land. Colfer originally wrote Artemis Fowl as an attempt to create a more commercial children's novel than his previous books. After sending his finished manuscript to a London literary agent, Colfer found himself in the middle of a publishing house bidding war, with Penguin Puffin acquiring the United Kingdom rights and Miramax purchasing the U.S. publishing and film rights in a six-figure deal—all before the book had ever seen print.

MAJOR WORKS

Colfer's first novel for young audiences, Benny and Omar, recounts the madcap adventures of a young Irish boy and his Tunisian friend in North Africa. Benny Shaw is a champion athlete at Saint Jerome's school in Wexford, Ireland, and is quite content with his life. Unexpectedly, his parents tell him they have decided to move to Tunisia where the locals have never heard of his favorite sport, hurling. Benny struggles miserably in his new environment until he meets Omar, a street-smart kid who lives by his wits and takes Benny under his wing. Benny, at first, loves the thrill of the havoc they cause together, going from one scrape to the next, until he meets Omar's younger sister, a drug addict in a local institution, which causes him to suddenly understand the hardships in Omar's life. Benny returns to Ireland for a vacation in his grandfather's village in Benny and Babe (1999), where he has a difficult time making friends until he becomes acquainted with the local tomboy, Babe. She and Benny hit it off, working together in Babe's business of finding lost fishing lures and reselling them. Things are going great for Benny and Babe until the bully Furty Howlin decides that he wants part of their business. Colfer became more philosophical in The Wish List (2000), using his young adult novel to present a mature contemplation of death and redemption. The protagonist, Meg, falls in with the wrong crowd, and while attempting to burglarize an elderly man, she is killed in an explosion. Since her soul is in a state of balance between good and evil, Meg is sent back to Earth on a mission to decide her fate—she must help the potential victim of her last burglary attempt to realize his life's dreams and settle his debts. During this period, Colfer also penned a series for younger readers featuring a grade-school-aged boy named Ed Cooper as the lead character. In Going Potty (1999), Ed's Funny Feet (2000), and Ed's Bed (2001), Ed must cope with using adult toilets, wearing special shoes to correct his feet, and working to solve his bed-wetting problem, respectively. The texts are aimed at early readers and are fully illustrated by Woody.

In 2001 Colfer published his most recognized book to date, Artemis Fowl, the first in a series of young adult novels that combine the humor of the Ed series with the fantasy adventure of The Wish List. Antihero Artemis is something of a boy genius and the last in a long line of a famous crime family who have fallen on hard times. Enlisting the help of his bodyguard, Butler, Artemis decides to restore the Fowl family wealth by capturing a fairy and then ransoming her for a hoard of legendary fairy gold. He kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a leprechaun from LEPrecon, a branch of the Lower Elements Police—the law enforcement body of the magical world—and quickly discovers that Holly will stop at nothing to foil Artemis's plans. Artemis Fowl goes into action for a second time in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (2002), in which the brilliant criminal teenager returns as does Colfer's magical underground world of fairies, trolls, satyrs, and gnomes. In the first installment, Artemis thought he had lost his beloved father, but in The Arctic Incident, he receives a video e-mail that depicts a man who looks like his father sitting in the Arctic wasteland of Russia. Artemis sets out to rescue his father, but not before he turns to his former enemies for some magical assistance. Meanwhile, in the magical underworld, things are in a state of chaos after someone arms a band of trolls and sets them loose on the citizenry. Certain clues lead Captain Holly Short to Artemis, and in a turnaround from the first adventure, she kidnaps him in hopes of stopping the violence. After Holly discovers that Artemis is not responsible for her troll problem, the two former enemies join forces to solve both of their problems. Artemis Fowl returns for a third adventure in Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (2003). This time, the teenager vies with a dangerous businessman over the supercomputer Artemis built using technology stolen from the fairy world. Hoping to earn a few dollars before destroying the C Cube machine, Fowl plans to deceive evil millionaire Jon Spiro, but the businessman double-crosses Artemis, threatening the existence of magical creatures everywhere. In 2005 Colfer released the fourth volume in the Artemis series, Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, in which a sinister pixie criminal, Opal Koboi, escapes from captivity to seek revenge on the Lower Elements Police. Holly seeks Artemis's help in apprehending Opal, but his memory has been erased to eliminate his knowledge of the fairy world, which also unfortunately eradicated his growing maturity and friendship with Holly. Keeping in tone with the Artemis Fowl series, Colfer continued to blend fantasy and science fiction in his 2004 novel, The Supernaturalist, which follows the life of Cosmo, a young boy trapped in a futuristic orphanage where the children are used for scientific testing. He eventually escapes and joins a group of Supernaturalists, youths with a special gift for hunting parasites—beings that drain life from humans. Colfer began a new series for young readers with The Legend of Spud Murphy (2004). Brothers Will and Marty are quite rambunctious, and their exasperated mother decides to drop them off at the local library, figuring that reading will keep them busy and quiet. The boys want to continue their wild ways, but meet their match with Mrs. Murphy, the town librarian—who is called Spud due to rumors that she carries a potato-shooting gun in her desk to silence rowdy kids. In the beginning, Will and Marty spend much of their time trying to find weaknesses in Spud's vigilance, but they are surprised to learn that they actually enjoy reading.

CRITICAL RECEPTION

The critical commentary on Colfer's body of work has been largely positive. Benny and Omar and Benny and Babe have been lauded as poignant yet humorous tales of juvenile displacement and maturity. Reviewing Benny and Omar, Linda Bindner has noted that, "At first it's hard to like Benny, even when he's trying to be decent, but Colfer does such a masterful job of mixing humor and tragedy with Benny's smartalecky remarks that youngsters will like him in spite of themselves." While many have applauded Colfer's themes of redemption and responsibility in The Wish List, some have bristled at the author's irreverent depictions of dogmatic figures from Christian history. Artemis Fowl has remained Colfer's most recognized work, with many reviewers complimenting the author's ability to engage young readers with his penchant for cartoonish violence and comedy. However, some critics have lamented several of the recurring themes in the Fowl series, particularly its glorification of criminal behavior and emphasis on grotesque humor. Despite such complaints, Artemis Fowl has attracted a wide fan base, largely due to Colfer's skill at crafting engaging and thrilling adventure narratives. In her review of Artemis Fowl, Janice M. Del Negro has argued that, "Colfer's novel is more suspense than fantasy, and the rising action supports the pace. The paramilitary humor leans a tad toward the adult, but the characters' motivations are easily recognizable, and readers will appreciate Artemis' growing conscience, Holly Short's compulsion to heal even the deadly Butler, and the camaraderie of the ground troops."

AWARDS

Colfer has received a number of honors for his growing body of work, including the White Raven Award for Benny and Omar, a Bisto Children's Book of the Year nomination for Benny and Babe, and the Bisto Children's Book of the Year Merit Award for The Wish List. Artemis Fowl was nominated for the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award and the Bisto Children's Book of the Year Award. The novel also won the Children's Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards and the Children's Book of the Year Award at the W. H. Smith Book Awards.

PRINCIPAL WORKS

Benny and Omar (young adult novel) 1998
Benny and Babe (young adult novel) 1999
Going Potty [illustrations by Woody] (picture book) 1999
Ed's Funny Feet [illustrations by Woody] (picture book) 2000
The Wish List (young adult novel) 2000
Artemis Fowl (young adult novel) 2001
Ed's Bed [illustrations by Woody] (picture book) 2001
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (young adult novel) 2002
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (young adult novel) 2003
The Artemis Fowl Files (short stories and puzzles) 2004
The Legend of Spud Murphy (juvenile novel) 2004
The Supernaturalist (young adult novel) 2004
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (young adult novel) 2005
The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth (juvenile novel) 2005
Half-Moon Investigations (young adult novel) 2006

∗Collects the short stories "LEPrecon" and "The Seventh Dwarf."

AUTHOR COMMENTARY

Eoin Colfer and Judith Ridge (interview date March 2003)

SOURCE: Colfer, Eoin, and Judith Ridge. "Know the Author: Eoin Colfer." Magpies 18, no. 1 (March 2003): 10-12.

[In the following interview, Colfer discusses the protagonist of Benny and Omar and Benny and Babe, comments on the popularity of his Artemis Fowl series, and speculates about the upcoming film version of Artemis Fowl.]

Eoin Colfer was born in 1965 and raised in Wexford, a town on the east coast of Ireland approximately 100 kilometres south of Dublin. His parents were both teachers—his father, a historian and painter, his mother, a drama teacher and writer—and Colfer himself went on to Teachers' College in Dublin before returning to Wexford to teach. He and his wife have also taught in Italy and Tunisia. His first book, Benny and Omar was a best-seller in Ireland and the sequel Benny and Babe was shortlisted for the Bisto Book of the Year Award, 1999.

Benny and Omar is set in Tunisia, Benny a tough, ten-year-old know-it-all Irish kid unable to bend from his 'hard man' image, Omar, a Bedouin orphan living in a make-shift hut outside the compound walls of the oil company that employs Benny's Dad. The two communicate in Omar's unique English—lines from American and UK sitcoms. The story is very funny but has a decidedly serious side when Omar liberates his sister from the psychiatric hospital she has been in since the accident that killed their parents, and Benny is co-opted to help them escape. Benny's story continues in Benny and Babe with the family returned to Ireland and holidaying with Grandpa, the lighthouse keeper of the small fishing village of Duncade. Benny finds himself a partner in a bait collection business run by the savvy, if prickly, Babe Meara, who might just be, in time, the girl of his dreams. Benny is still a cocky little twit, but he is beginning to learn that there is more to life than 'maintaining face'. Both Benny stories will be republished by Puffin in the coming 18 months.

The Wish List, three books for a younger age group and a play for adults followed before Colfer wrote Artemis Fowl. His family insisted that he send it off to a literary agent in London and the rest is history. After an auction between a number of publishers Viking paid, what was then, the highest advance for a children's book by an unknown author. (However one should add, unknown outside of Ireland where his writing has always been highly regarded.) Colfer was on playground duty when his wife phoned through the news. "I was very happy! Kids could have been abseiling from the roof, saying 'Can I jump off next?' and I'd be saying 'Yeah, go ahead, up you go.' I was in a total state of shock, really!" At the same time film rights were sold. One more Artemis Fowl book has been published, Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, and a third, Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code will be released in Australia in May 2003.

Judith Ridge interviewed Eoin Colfer on a recent trip to Australia.

Artemis Fowl has brought international success for author Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer. But before Artemis there was Meg, dead heroine of The Wish List, and before Meg there was Benny, rascally hero of Benny and Omar and Benny and Babe. A great fan of these earlier novels, I was scheduled to interview Eoin when I was in Ireland last year, but by then Artemis fever had taken hold and Eoin was on tour in Australia—so a year and several continents later, with Eoin back in Australia for the release of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, I finally had the chance to sit down with him for a chat.

[Ridge]: I read your piece in Inis: The Magazine of Children's Books Ireland (Summer 2002), and I was interested to read … you had your eye on the prize didn't you, you wanted the success that came withArtemis Fowl.

[Colfer]: For me, if I wanted to be a writer I had to make money. I'd written six books and they did really well in Ireland but it's a small population and it was either make a few bob or stop writing. A lot of writers in Ireland don't do anything else but we had our house on mortgage, and so I couldn't just stop working. That's why I decided to get an agent.

Did that conscious decision to be successful so you could keep it going, did that influence the writing ofArtemis Fowl ?

No, I didn't even decide to get an agent until I had finished Artemis. My wife Jackie said, this can't go on, you're spending five hours a night writing and I come home from work and then I have to mind Finn as well, and I make the dinner because you're writing … you have to get an agent! And so I did.

Artemis is a bit of a change of pace from your earlier books.

It's a change from the Benny books, but I think if you look at The Wish List you can see where it's going. That's like the link if you like. It has a bit of the magic in it and so The Wish List was the first step towards the Artemis books.

I really enjoyed the Irishness of the Benny books, the language, the hurling.

I remember someone saying to me in the publishing world, you know, you're just trying to minority yourself out of an audience. You have an Irish boy playing hurling in Tunisia with an African boy. I mean, who's going to want to read that? But I think it's the story and the characters that are important. It will be interesting to see, because Benny will be coming out here over the next couple of years, so it will be interesting to see how that does go down.

Benny is a wonderful character—there's a line from Benny through Meg to Artemis

Oh yes.

There's a darkness in the books even though they're very funny, and the action's fantastic, but Benny's a … I wouldn't want him in my class, I wouldn't want him in my house! He's a tricky kid

He's a tricky kid but he's a real kid.

And he's a really attractive kid too, you like him and you're on his side from the start, but that scene when he starts school in Tunisia and he deliberately sets out to sabotage himself, to make himself the hard man

But that is so typical of Irish children—not just Irish kids, I think most twelve-year-old boys when they move to a different environment. I was watching that happen as I was teaching in Tunisia. Irish boys have a hard time accepting sincerity. If someone says to them you are very good they think there's something behind it; I know he's telling me I'm lovely, but what does he mean by that? And Benny had a bad case of that. And like many twelve-year-olds he has a bad case of the-world-has-to-fit-into-his-order. But what I like about Benny is in one way he does learn and in another way he never learns. He's a real kid. I had no interest in writing about a fella that's kind of saintly and lovely. I wanted what 90% of twelve-year-olds are really like, and that is they're a bit mischievous, scamps, and you know, get away with what they can get away with. I think that's what a lot of boys like about Benny—he is a bit of a lad and he does get in trouble, but at the end of the day when he has to make the important decision he does, he makes the right one. There's a line in The Wish List ; There's a line between bold and bad and he's not going to cross that line.

Meg has.

Meg has crossed it, kind of—yeah—eternally.

Yes indeed. That's shocking, to kill your main character off in the first chapter, that was very audacious. Not many people would do that.

I have no interest in writing the same book someone else has written. I mean, I don't think I'm that different either. If you take Huckleberry Finn for example—we read that now and think, great book, but that was completely revolutionary for the time where this boy was smoking and drinking and swearing and his best friend was a black guy. That was unbelievable and Twain was banned and booed.

Still is in some states of America.

Exactly, they still do not appreciate it in some places. So compared to that kind of thing my little trouble makers are very very small players indeed. But at the same time I'm not interested in bland. You may like my books, you may not like them, but I don't think people would say I'm bland.

HasThe Wish List attracted many complaints? It opens with a violent criminal act, you've got a dead main character, and then an uneasy alliance between Heaven and Hell to see where Meg will end up.

It hasn't, no, but I think it could. I think there's definitely potential there for people to be offended. There's always people waiting to be offended. And I think if you put the devil in a book there are people who are going to be offended. Once I'm satisfied myself that it is not immoral or harmful or graphic—I mean, I think the scenes with the devil are very funny. They're very light-hearted. I can see where if you wanted you could say well, it's disgraceful, there's an alliance between Beelzebub and St Peter, but people were offended by Elvis, so what can I tell you?

So you haven't had any complaints?

Not many, I've had more over Artemis.

Is that the violence?

No, it was the fact that he was a bad guy. And I'm trying to say, well have you read the whole book? Oh no, we've just read the first six pages and that's enough. And I'm saying, well if you read the whole book you'd see that he has to make some very difficult moral choices and he makes the right ones and he's changing. He's evolving through contact with other people and that was his big problem, he never had friends, the only person he had was Butler, and now his family are coming back to him and he's making kind of alliances with the fairy people and he's learning. I think the most important thing is he's seeing the effect of what he does has on other people. Before that it was all in his mind; well, I'll kidnap this person and that'll be easy, but then he actually feels their pain.

There's a film deal. How far along is it?

It's pretty far along. At the moment, the director has been picked, a guy called Larry Guterman is being contracted and he's working on the storyboards. They're in Ireland at the moment scouting locations and there's talent scouts in the schools looking for Artemis and they're supposed to start filming in September (2002) and that's all they'll tell me.

So is it complete live action?

I suppose it'll be like Lord of the Rings. It won't be on that scale—I wish—but it'll be some live action with computer graphics.

It's sort of begging, really, to be filmed.

That's what people say. I don't think you can sit down and say I'm going to write the book for a screenplay, it's just the way I happen to think. Maybe it's as a child of the media. Our generation would have been the first to grow up with cinema and TV in the house, so maybe it's that. I actually tend to think in comic book form, because I always was a big comic fan, so maybe that sort of wham bam thing transfers easily to celluloid.

Artemis Fowl has been huge of course, it's had a massive marketing campaign behind it. Your other books have found their audience more quietly

I really like that way of building an audience because that's the way I always did it before, the book comes out very quietly, there's no press and it builds. That's why the marketing [behind Artemis Fowl ] was so worrying, but obviously it worked out well. But when it came out first I was, you know, not terrified, but I was very worried, because when something comes out with that amount of hype you're just waiting for it to be chopped down. But I was lucky.

What's next?

There's the third Artemis book, of course. I'd like to do another Benny book in the future. I have an idea for one. I'm glad the Benny's are kind of hanging in there, because I'm really proud of those books, you know. I'd like to do science fiction, I'd like to do thrillers and mysteries and so on. Some of the great writers, the prolific writers do a book every year for forty years, so if I don't smoke and I can stay out of car wrecks I should have time to do another ten or twelve books at least.

Eoin Colfer and Craig M. McDonald (interview date 2003)

SOURCE: Colfer, Eoin, and Craig M. McDonald. "Eoin Colfer: An Exclusive Interview." Art of the Word (online magazine) http://www.modestyarbor.com/eoincolfer.html (2003).

[In the following interview, Colfer discusses the widespread success of Artemis Fowl, how the publication of Artemis Fowl has affected his life and career, and his plans for further installments of the Fowl series.]

Irish native Eoin Colfer (his first named is pronounced "Owen") was a school teacher augmenting his income with several successful novels published by a small Irish house before unleashing his break-through book, Artemis Fowl —a novel for young adults about a preternaturally brilliant boy criminal on a quest to find his father and restore the family fortune by any nefarious means necessary.

The novel, a sardonic synthesis of Irish folklore and high-tech fantasy, sparked a bidding war and a promised film.

The series also drew criticism from some reviewers turned off by the books' mild profanity, scatological humor and James Bond- (film) level violence. Those critics missed the point—shunning several centuries of children's literature encompassing the Brothers Grimm, Jonathan Swift, Rudyard Kipling and the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s that spawned The Shadow, Doc Savage and a host of comic book characters that sparked the imagination of Artemis Fowl 's creator.

Eoin Colfer spoke with interviewer Craig McDonald from New York City where the author was in the early phases of his North American tour to promote his third Artemis Fowl adventure, Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code.

[McDonald]: I've read that Kurt Vonnegut writes all of his books with his sister in mind as his reader. Do you write your books with a particular reader in mind?

[Colfer]: Kind of a selfish answer, but I kind of like to write the books I would have liked to read as a kid. When I was 12, I was kind of forced into the adult book market because I couldn't find anything aimed at 12-year-olds. I know now there were plenty of books, but I just couldn't find them, so I would read people like Robert Ludlum and Stephen King and J. R. R. Tolkien. They are the kind of books that I always wished were available for kids, so that's the kind of book I'm trying to write now.

I was impressed reading your books that you don't "write down" to kids at all.

That's part of the same theory, I suppose, in that when I was 12 I was well able to read Stephen King, for instance. I was sure that there were a lot of other kids who are at the same level, if not higher, than me. I saw no reason to write down to kids. The only concession I made would be that the books are appropriate for children—in my opinion.

You have, at best, mild profanity and there is some scatological humor—one thinks of Mulch Diggums, particularly. Do you ever get any guff on that aspect of the books?

I do, I do get a little bit of guff. But, you know, the old maxim holds true—you can't please all the people, all the time. For some people, that's one of their favorite parts of the books—that humor. I think if you overuse it, it does become tedious … if every character was like that. But I think just a little touch here or there, just for a little light relief, is okay. In my opinion that's fine. I don't think it would be harmful or have any bad influence on kids, but I do, of course, understand parents who think that their children might be too sensitive for that. I always urge parents to read the books first themselves if they have any worries at all.

Do you have any sense of an adult audience—not necessarily finding the books through their kids, but on their own?

I didn't beforehand, before the first book that I wrote. But I did imagine that there would be read-along adults, or adults reading the books to their children, so I saw no reason not to throw in a few references and jokes for them. But, again, that's an area where you do have to be careful. If it becomes too knowing, then it can swamp the book. Just a couple of little references. I think a few movies get it right, like Toy Story, that kind of thing, where adults and kids can enjoy it, but you can go too far and then it becomes an adult book and that's not what I want.

Yeah, I was surprised by a few of those touches, here and there in the Fowl books.

The whole idea of the Fairy Police Force is kind of based on Hill Street Blues. That, for me, was how I saw it. I just thought it would be funny to have fairies with actual emotions and feelings and real lives rather than just being floaty-floaty, here's-a-spell kinds of things. I remember as a kid, we were only allowed to stay up to watch two programs after 9 p.m. They were Hill Street Blues and Roots, so they had a huge effect on us, but especially on me. Hill Street Blues I watched for years and that's what I imagined: a kind of a grotty police station and all of these little people running around having problems. I thought it would be kind of funny.

You're writing for a theoretical 12-year-old audience. How does your readership break across gender lines?

When I wrote it, I was teaching 12-year-olds and I was really trying to hook the boys because it is very hard to get boys to read, in my experience. Not all boys, obviously, but a high percentage of them do not want to be reading about a famous battle when they can be outside having a famous battle. There was no money, really, involved. My first three books had been successful in Ireland, so I had made a couple of thousand dollars a year, but it was really a hobby. I had no idea this whole publishing thing would happen. I expected it to be mostly boys who would read the books. But as a nod to the girls, I put in the hero—the female (Captain Holly Short). From what I can gather from my fan mail, it's a pretty even split. Maybe 60-percent boys, but there really is a large percentage of girls reading, too. They seem to really like the fact that the hero is a girl. I get a lot of letters from adults, too. It seems to be breaking down really well. I think the secret of getting adult readership is not to look for them.

What do the adults write you?

First of all, they always say they're embarrassed because they're not a 12-year-old kid, but they just picked up the book. Sometimes they pick it up to vet it for their children. Sometimes they are given it by a friend. It's like they're making an excuse for reading it, like it's some kind of secret hobby, or something underhanded or illegal, as if they had been arrested: "Well, you know, it's not mine…." Occasionally you do see adults reading it underground or on a plane. I do like that. I must admit it does appeal to my vanity and it does give me encouragement to go on and write an adult novel.

You envision doing that at some point? I know you've written some things for your brother, who is an actor.

Yeah. Donal, my brother, came to me and he said, "Write me a play." He was kind of struggling. I said, "Are you sure?" So I kind of took revenge on him for all of the years of stealing my clothes and I made him the dumbest person on the planet. Which kind of backfired, because of course audiences always love that kind of character. You know, Woody in Cheers. He brought it to Dublin and he had a really good run. He's been after me ever since to write another one but I just don't have the time. But, again, that play was kind of—I don't know if you know Benny Hill?

Benny Hill was foisted on the American public by PBS many years ago.

It was kind of like Benny Hill, but not so intellectual. I don't accept responsibility for Benny Hill. It wasn't that crass, but it was that kind of a visual, slapstick style. I had no idea whether it would work or not, but it seemed to go down really well.

I understand you're supporting yourself purely through your writing now. Do you miss teaching?

Yeah, I do, I do miss it. I thought I would not miss it, to be honest. When I left, I was really delighted to be leaving because I had been doing it for 15 years. As I was driving away from the school I was shredding my lesson plans. But now, I do miss being part of a group. I am part of a serial extended group, but I miss being part of a daily group where you interact with people. I tend to go back to my school where I worked even though when you're out, you're kind of out. You can't really go back to the same extent. But I do keep involved and I teach creative classes up there occasionally. I would hope that maybe in five or six years, if I have established myself enough as a writer to my own satisfaction, then I can maybe go back and teach five or six hours a week. But my problem is I couldn't sign a contract as I'd have to go off for a couple of months on tour so it would have to be with an accommodating principal.

How did the codes in the book come about?

Initially, the codes were only a plot point. They weren't actually real. They were just mentioned—that there were these fairy codes. Then my British editor said to me, "Our designer thinks it would be a great idea to include these codes as an extra dimension, so would you write a little substory?" I thought it was a great idea. So I did, and I've done so for the three books, but it's become an amazing phenomenon. People are writing to me in codes. Every time I'm opening a letter a letter I'm saying to myself, "Please God, English … Please God, English." I get a lot of letters 10 pages long, written in codes. These kids spend hours. There are whole web sites dedicated to this code. I understand it, because it's something I would have liked myself as a child.

Maybe I missed it, but I was flipping through the second book again—the North American edition—and I'm not finding the codes there.

No, unfortunately. I don't know why the American publishers decided not to print it (the code) in the second part, but it's available in the English version or on the web site. A lot of kids are very disappointed by that, so I always point them toward the web site so you can get the story and the code if you like to do that sort of thing.

Have the North American versions been altered in any other ways for the readership in terms of terminology, vernacular?

No, not really. In the second book, there was a particular passage, it was a kind of a sting, toward the end of the book. We discussed—did I think it was too difficult for the kids to get? I really didn't think it was. Basically they were saying, "Maybe we should say beforehand this is a trap." I was saying, "Well, that will ruin the whole suspense of it." We talked for a while and eventually agreed with me that to set it up to much would ruin it. And the kids got it. Now I think they trust me, as such. There was nothing taken out in the second book, or in the third book. There are a few Americanisms changed and a few spellings, but other than that, the books are identical.

The Artemis Fowl books are usually summarized as an unusual blend of the mythical and technological. How technologically grounded are you?

I'm not particularly techno-smart, but I'm interested. I love my computer, for instance. I love obviously, the James Bond movies, that sort of thing. What I don't like is when I don't believe it. If you're looking at a James Bond movie, for example: In the last one, they had an invisible car and I don't believe that, you know? What I was trying to avoid was having gadgets that could not work, or weren't believable—that they wouldn't be available in a hundred years. So I did do research into all of the gadgets and I did draw them out and try to describe them in such a way that people could say, "Okay, I can believe that … that might happen in fifty years." But people now think I'm very technological and ask me to take a look if their pager isn't working.

Do you write on a computer or do you write long-hand?

I write on a computer now. My first three books I wrote longhand. And I think it was kind of valuable to do that, just to see how a book comes together … the shape of a book is such. It's like learning html before you design a web site. It's a good exercise. But now I work on my beloved PowerBook. And, it is ESSENTIAL to have the most up-to-date PowerBook in order to write any book. That's what I tell my wife every six months….

When you have to upgrade to the newest model….

Exactly.

You have a young child of your own now.

We have two kids now. One is just two months old.

Congratulations.

Thanks very much. It's the hardest thing about touring—having to leave the baby behind.

At least you're sleeping, though.

See, I'm not admitting to being happy about that.

No, no. I bring it up, because, looking at the chronology, you were writing many books for young children before you had children of your own. I'm wondering if having your own children has affected your writing in any way in terms of material or subject matter?

Definitely. My older son, who is five, just a few months ago said to me, "Dad, you write these books for children." And I said, "Yes." And he said, "I want you to write a book for me." I said look, "Here's a bar of chocolate." He said, "No, I want a book." So I did a picture book for him that will be coming out next year. That has given me an amazing amount of satisfaction. With picture books, people think you sit down and you write them in ten minutes, but they're really difficult to craft and every word has to be perfect and the idea has to be really strong and simple. I really can't wait to get the book and give it to him—to sit down and read it to him at bedtime.

Did you illustrate it yourself? I understand you had an interest in being a comic book artist.

I did. I had an interest, but not an aptitude. I think up until you're about 16, you think that you're fantastic at everything, then reality hits home. I would like to think that if I had a year I could illustrate it, but they showed me what this other guy did in five minutes, so I said, "Go with him."

What kind of comic books were you reading?

Every kind. Mostly superhero books. My favorite when I was a kid was Will Eisner, who did The Spirit. There was one street stand in Dublin where you could get these comics—only one and we didn't even live in Dublin. Every three or four months we would get up there and go to this one stand. We had saved some amount of money, and we'd buy The Spirit and Vampirella and Creepy.

You were into the real ghoulish stuff.

Yeah, yeah. The original Shrek, of course—there was a Shrek before the Shrek we have now. I loved those comics. In more recent times I've started to read Frank Miller who does the Sin City series.

And Batman's recasting.

Yeah, the Batman. There's a great amount of comic obsessives in the book world, so everywhere I go people are now saying, "Have you read this?" The one I have to get now is the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I've been advised to get that.

The film will be coming out this summer.

Yes, someone told me don't see the film.

It's based on an Alan Moore comic.

Alan Moore—yeah, I think he's really good. There's only one good comic store in Ireland, so when I'm on tour, every time I go to a bookstore, I try to pick up a few comics. My suitcase is weighed down by the time I go home.

Any possibility ofArtemis Fowl making a leap to that medium?

There is, actually. There's an Italian company who works with Disney and they've approached me. I'm going to have some talks with them in September, so I'm extremely hopeful. They've sent me some draft sketches and it really looks good.

Would you write for the comics?

I don't know. That's what the discussion is about. If they had someone who could do it, I'd prefer just to have some kind of script O.K. because I'm just so busy at the moment. I'm signed up for three or four more books. And I find it very hard to go back to things. When I've finished them, they're out of my head and the next book is in. Even editing I find really frustrating, even though I know it has to be done. I just want to get onto the next thing. So I don't know if I would, and, anyway, I don't know if they'd ask me.

When did you know you had a trilogy on your hands? I don't know if a lot of this happened in the editing, but a lot in book two is foreshadowed in book one.

Oh, I had planned to have three books before I started.

You had the loose plots of all three in mind, going in?

Yeah. I loved the foreshadowing thing. I saw that first in Robinson Crusoe and I always loved that—to finish off with, "Of course, he would be dead by then." I thought that was great. My editor said, "You're doing it again!" so I have to try and not overdo it. But I had the three books done out. I had actually finished the second book before the first book came out. Again, I thought it was all going to go to my small Irish publisher. I was lucky, in a way, because I avoided the second book's pressure when the first book was such a big hit. The pressure was on to do a good second book, but I had finished the second book so that was okay.

Obviously, you were already successful in your native country, but the Artemis Fowl books took you up many levels.

Yeah, I kind of bypassed many levels. In a way, it's kind of nice to live in Ireland, because you just … I mean, when I read all these newspaper articles, I don't think it's me in a way. I don't take it seriously. I come on a tour for a month and I meet whatever thousand kids but I treat it like a holiday. I don't treat it like my life. I think if I lived in New York or London that I would be constantly on the circuit, but they don't really call me because I live in Ireland and they're not going to fly me how many thousand miles just to do a half-an-hour reading. I'm very much out of this. In Ireland I don't think people realize….

How big it is?

Yeah, they don't. Which is great.

You don't feel that weight of being a public personage?

No. It's nice to be a children's writer because you can be successful and completely unknown on the streets. Maybe people would recognize J. K. Rowling, but that's it. Maybe Roald Dahl if he were still alive would be recognized. Mostly, you're completely anonymous. You can be in a children's book shop, in the children's book center, beside your book with your picture on it and people still wouldn't recognize it. Even wearing a T-shirt saying "I Am Eoin Colfer." Even if they do, adults aren't going to get all riled up about it. Occasionally, a child will come up to you. I did a TV show two years ago, Good Morning America, and for two days after that in New York I was getting recognized and I really, really, really didn't like it. You'd be in The Gap with your wife and you'd just see people looking at you and it was very uncomfortable. I was glad when that passed. Although my wife doesn't go to The Gap often, I have to say.

Quick to qualify that. You've set it up for a fourth book. You stated you went in as a trilogy and there will presumably be a fourth book?

Yeah, well, I don't want to do a fourth book immediately, because I feel if I did one now—having been kind of living and breathing these characters for five years nearly—it wouldn't be up to standard. What I want to do is take a break and write another book. I'm working on a science fiction book, which is another love of mine. The nice thing about having a measure of success is that you really are given leeway to write what you want then. So right now I'm writing a science fiction book, then I would like to get back to comedy, so I just really want to write a funny book after that. Then maybe I'll do the fourth Artemis. The nice thing is that I'm signed up to do a fourth Artemis, but it's when I want to do it. I don't have to do it immediately, so I can do it in ten years time, so that's great.

Artemis is aging a bit, but more than most children's characters tend to.

Yeah, he's three months older in this book than in the last one. You can kind of cheat time, in a way. Even though two years go by, you can have him get two weeks older. I don't want him to get much older. I don't really want to get into girlfriends and romance.

You've described him as being on a definite character arc. I wondered how far you would take him.

Maybe in two or three books he might get a girlfriend. Most people ask me, "is going to get together with Holly Short," who is a fairy. But I could have all sorts of leagues up against me if I had him get into inter-species breeding. It could be a mine field. And, also, she's 80. I think I would introduce another character if I was going to do that, but I definitely won't do that for a few more years.

What is the status of the Fowl film?

It seems to be really close. They've paid me. I can't imagine them paying me and then not making it. Every six-and-a-half-months I get an e-mail that's been copied to four-and-a-half-million people (I'm the last one) saying "the script is finished and we're now entering casting," but then I haven't heard anything since then. To be honest I don't know. Most people think I'm holding something back and I'm in the loop, but I really am not. One writer told me there's two ways to go: you can harass them and be involved and do everything, or you can just let it go. Either way, the same movie is going to get made, whether you break your heart or just turn up on the premiere night. It will be the same movie. So, I'm just going to turn up if they ever make it.

I was determined to get through this interview without bringing up that other Celtic author of young adult literature you mentioned, but then I read your novel's release was pushed up to more or less get out of the way of the next Potter book.

The explanation I received was that when Harry Potter came into the shops, they wanted my book on the shelf already.

As a companion buy?

Yeah, exactly. Also, there is the obvious reason that if you don't get out before Harry Potter you get absolutely swamped. It's a phenomenon.

Was the book completed, in so far as your efforts were concerned, when the scheduling change occurred?

Oh yeah. I had finished the book last summer. We did have a few edits to do, but they just rang up and said, "Could you come over in May?" (for the U.S. tour) and I said, "Sure." The whole book world is gearing up for Harry Potter—not just the kid's section. I go to bookstores now and there are buyers who are just very close to breakdown. The pressure is on them now—this is the big cash cow now for this year, and, possibly, next year. It's bigger than Stephen King or John Grisham or anybody.

It's insane.

It is insane.

Your web site supplies a list of authors working in the young adult fiction realm whom you admire. Who do you read and admire writing for a mature audience?

I'm reading a lot of Irish writers at the moment. My favorite would be a guy called Ken Bruen.

Oh, uncanny. I was going to ask you about him, specifically. He's become an obsession of mine, lately. He was just published over here.

He's great. He's brilliant. He hearkens back a little to the Raymond Chandlers and that kind of thing, but he gives it a completely modern spin. And, it's a side of Ireland that you never see. You don't imagine that anyone is drinking or taking drugs—well, okay, drinking, yes—or that there are any bent cops in Ireland, but he really shows the underbelly. He writes so sparsely, but he's very literary as well. I really like him.

His books also give us a sense in America what has happened because of the technology industry in Ireland. Have you found your corner of Ireland changing quite a bit?

Very much so. People still have this Quiet Man vision of Ireland, and that does exist to a small extent, but Ireland has the largest growing economy in Europe and we have more computer plants per capita that I think anywhere else in Europe, as well. There's a lot of American big business in Ireland—Mac and Dell and all these companies are there. A very high percentage of people are working in computers and are computer graduates. There are a lot of Porsches and BMWs driving around now that you never would have seen twenty years ago.

Anything special you'd like to convey to your North American fans?

The obvious thing to thank them for sticking with me and over the last couple of years and I hope they enjoy the last book as much as they did the first two. I've been here three or four days and already spoken to about four thousand kids. It's very scary for a man from a small town to go into a gym and have a thousand kids sitting on the bleachers and growling, "Entertain me now." But, it's enjoyable. It's character forming.

TITLE COMMENTARY

BENNY AND OMAR (1998)

Publishers Weekly (review date 9 July 2001)

SOURCE: Review of Benny and Omar, by Eoin Colfer. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 28 (9 July 2001): 68-9.

Fans of Irish author Colfer's Artemis Fowl will find this contemporary novel [Benny and Omar ] a real change of pace. Benny Shaw's passion is hurling (an Irish version of field hockey), and he's crushed when his father's job takes the family to North Africa for a year. Not only will he miss watching the All-Ireland Hurling Final, but he also has to deal with culture shock, from Tunisia's fierce heat to scorpions to a classroom run by a pair of aging hippies named Harmony and Bob (who say things like "remember, positive emotions only" and delight in group hugs). Benny slips over the wall of the company's gated compound one day and strikes up a friendship with Omar, an orphan whose only English comes from watching pirated TV (e.g., "Night, John Boy"). The two bounce from one scrape to the next, and Benny learns a lesson about family loyalty when his friend's devotion to his institutionalized sister sparks a climactic finale, with the two on the lam from the law. Colfer smoothly layers adventure, moments of poignancy and subtle social commentary, and his comic timing is pitch-perfect (at the airport, "Georgie was sad wishing his Grandad farewell, Benny distraught over losing a steady source of fivers"). He studs the prose with Irish slang ("eejit," "the dole," "that yoke"). Readers will hope that the story's sequel, Benny and Babe, will cross the Atlantic soon. Ages 10-up.

Linda Bindner (review date December 2001)

SOURCE: Bindner, Linda. Review of Benny and Omar, by Eoin Colfer. School Library Journal 47, no. 12 (December 2001): 132-33.

Gr. 5-9—As the hurling champion at Saint Jerome's school, Benny Shaw thinks he has a perfect life [in Benny and Omar ]—until his parents move the family all the way to North Africa, a lifetime away from Ireland. They've never even heard of hurling in Tunisia. The village school is taught by feel-good hippies and filled with students actually bent on learning. There's no place for a sarcastic, self-centered kid like Benny. Then he meets Omar, a cheerful, scrappy boy surviving on his wits, and the two become fast friends, creating havoc and terrorizing everybody. But when Benny meets Omar's little sister, a drugged resident of the local mental farm, he realizes that his friend's life is more tragic than he had thought and realizes that he must help Omar rescue his sister. Suddenly Benny has to think of someone beside himself, and his ultimate change and personal growth make for a memorable story. At first it's hard to like Benny, even when he's trying to be decent, but Colfer does such a masterful job of mixing humor and tragedy with Benny's smart-alecky remarks that youngsters will like him in spite of themselves. This is a funny, fast-paced read, despite the Irish slang, that provides a wonderful glimpse into some very non-American worlds.

THE WISH LIST (2000)

Rayma Turton (review date March 2003)

SOURCE: Turton, Rayma. Review of The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer. Magpies 18, no. 1 (March 2003): 41.

Grieving for her mother, trying to get away from her hated step-father, Meg Finn agrees to help Belch Brennan rob Lowrie McCall, an old-age pensioner [in The Wish List ]. It all goes horribly wrong and both Meg and Belch (together with his pitbull terrier, Raptor) end up dead. Belch is definitely going to Hell but Meg's future lies in the balance. She has done some wicked things but at the last moment has gained Brownie points by trying to protect Lowrie. She is given a chance to redeem herself by adding some more points to the good side of her balance sheet by returning to Earth with the task of helping Lowrie fulfil some of his dreams. Back in Hell, the Devil wants Meg and puts Beezelbub on the case. Belch is rewired (in a rather horrible configuration—Raptor and Belch were irretrievably entwined in the blast) and sent after Meg to make sure she fails and Hell can claim her.

An unusual friendship develops between the prickly teenager and the grumpy old man as Meg helps Lowrie with wishes as diverse as kissing the woman he should have forty years ago, kicking a goal in Croke Park stadium, punching the old school bully and spitting over the Cliffs of Moher. Some might find the relationship between St Peter and Beezelbub controversial, the pair keep in touch and share information when considered necessary, or interesting. The Devil is urbane and appropriately immoral. But it's all done in such a good humoured manner that it seems perfectly natural, or as natural as possible given the storyline. Good fun delivered in a pacy style.

Elizabeth Bush (review date December 2003)

SOURCE: Bush, Elizabeth. Review of The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 57, no. 4 (December 2003): 146.

[In The Wish List, ] Meg arrives at her final reckoning, having literally been blown to Kingdom Come in a failed robbery attempt, dead-even on points for goodness and badness; St. Peter has no choice but to send her back to earth to decisively tip the balance. Belch, mastermind behind the robbery, slides straight into perdition, but in order to make his eternity in hell less, well, hellish, he's sent back as well to make sure Meg keeps to her criminal ways. Meg's atonement mission involves helping their victim, Mr. Lowrie McCall, accomplish a list of things he wants to do before he dies, and it takes all a spirit can give to get the old geezer to kiss his lost love, kick a soccer goal, redress an old wrong, and spit off the Cliffs of Moher. A large measure of goodness is, of course, unavoidable since readers will want Meg to squeak through the Pearly Gates at last, but this ride is altogether more exciting when evil's at the wheel. Colfer has a wonderful way with wickedness, as fans of his Artemis Fowl series know, and his metaphysical cast steals the show. Beelzebub and St. Peter operate under a sly détente (each has some quibbles with his respective employer), Flit scrapes soul residue off the tunnel into the afterlife and nudges the odd spirit off in the right direction, and much of the mayhem on earth is orchestrated by a (again, literally) damned computer programmer. The triumph of Good is a foregone conclusion, but the deviltry is great while it lasts.

Janet Hilbun (review date December 2003)

SOURCE: Hilbun, Janet. Review of The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer. School Library Journal 49, no. 12 (December 2003): 148.

Gr. 7-Up—[In The Wish List, ] Meg, kicked out of her house by her stepfather after her mother dies, becomes a troublemaker. When she and her friend Belch attempt to rob Lowrie McCall, an elderly neighbor, a nearby gas tank inadvertently explodes and she finds herself in a tunnel, hurtling toward the beyond. Meanwhile, Saint Peter and Beelzebub argue over Meg's soul—she is not really a bad kid but neither is she a very good one. In order to decide her fate, they send her back to Earth, where she must try to patch things up with Lowrie. After a rough beginning, she and the dying man embark on a quest to help him right the mistakes that he made during his life. Their adventures are both humorous and poignant, as Lowrie confronts his regrets and Meg strives to attain salvation. Whether the events are set in Ireland or in a hereafter complete with computer technology, Colfer concocts a delightful novel that is written in a much lighter vein than his Artemis Fowl books (Hyperion). He brings together several unforgettable characters, including an irascible old man, a mouthy heroine, and a malevolent spirit that attempts to stop Meg from completing her mission. The interaction of the heavenly—and not so heavenly—beings adds an unexpected dimension to the novel. An entertaining and compelling read.

Paula Rohrlick (review date January 2004)

SOURCE: Rohrlick, Paula. Review of The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer. KLIATT 38, no. 1 (January 2004): 6.

When a nasty teenage boy named Belch and his even nastier dog Raptor involve 14-year-old Meg in the attempted robbery of an old man [in The Wish List ], an unexpected explosion occurs. Meg, Belch, and Raptor are blown up and their souls are flung out of their bodies. Belch and Raptor somehow meld into one creature and wind up as a minion of Satan, but Meg's soul ends up in limbo, with Saint Peter and the Devil vying for it. Meg is given a last chance at salvation: she is sent back to Earth to help the man she had tried to rob. Old Lowrie McCall knows he will die soon, and he has a wish list of regrets to set straight. Meg tries to help him, but Belch (now with many comically doglike qualities) has been sent back to Earth to make sure she fails. Where will Meg's soul finally end up?

Fast, funny, and irreverent, this is a clever and thought-provoking novel by the Irish author of the wildly popular Artemis Fowl series. It's full of action (though when people inhabit each other's bodies it can be a bit confusing), and the moral issues raised make this more than just an amusing fantasy/adventure tale. Sure to be popular.

ARTEMIS FOWL (2001)

Rayma Turton (review date May 2001)

SOURCE: Turton, Rayma. "Fairies with Attitude." Magpies 16, no. 2 (May 2001): 22.

[In the following review, Turton faults the cliched characters and plot in Artemis Fowl, but praises Colfer's potent sense of humor.]

Perhaps story leaning on story is never more evident than in parody. The subgenre of parodying fairy tales has explored numerous angles in which to re-jig tales about characters from traditional literature, but none, I would suggest, has pushed the boundaries as far as Penguin's new author, Eoin Colfer. Colfer describes his new book, Artemis Fowl, as Die Hard with fairies. The mind boggles! But I have to admit it is a fair description.

Artemis is the last of the infamous Fowl family who have, since the middle ages, carved out a family fortune from infamous and criminal deeds. Now, due to a serious misinterpretation of the facts, the family, whilst far from poor, needs an injection of funds—Artemis's father had seen a new market in the collapse of the Soviet empire: the Russian mafia thought otherwise and, with the help of a Sidewinder missile, despatched him, together with his ship the Fowl Star, and 250,000 cans of cola to the bottom of the sea.

As the now head of the house, Artemis has devised a brilliant plan to recoup the family fortune. It is ingenious and requires extraordinary intelligence and application. It also needs help from a loyal and unquestioning supporter and, luckily for Artemis, since 1095 every Fowl has been served by a Butler.

At the age of ten, Butler children were sent to a private training centre in Israel, where they were taught the specialised skills necessary to guard the latest in the Fowl family. These skills involved cordon bleu cooking, marksmanship, a customised blend of martial arts, emergency medicine and information technology.

I think I can detect hundreds of ten-plus boys' ears pricking up.

Artemis's grand plan is to capture a fairy and hold it for ransom. Tonnes of gold reputed to be found at the end of rainbows or down fairy wells will pour into the Fowl coffers. It is Artemis's ill fortune to capture Holly Short of LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit), the first female to be admitted to the force. Holly needs to succeed in a man's world:

She is a test case. A beacon [with] a million fairies out there watching [her] every move.

                                           (p. 37)

Holly is sassy, brave and well-qualified for her job and while her boss, the cigar-chewing Commander Root, may give her a hard time, at heart he is very fond of her and will do anything to protect her.

Have you heard all this before? Yes, Artemis Fowl is full of cliches. Yes, we can guess how it will end (or almost). Yes, the characters are stereotyped. Yes there is a wonderful array of hi-tech weaponry and great battle scenes.

And, too, there is that well-trodden way to a boy's heart—toilet humour! The dwarf, Mulch Diggums, a compulsive thief who, naturally, is the only fairy able to dig into Fowl Manor and rescue Holly, has a number of unsanitary habits. Mulch makes his way through the earth much like a worm—he takes in dirt at one end and passes it through the other. In Mulch's case in such a spectacular fashion that even the battle-hardened Butler is blasted into temporary oblivion.

But that's all part of the appeal of Artemis Fowl. It is funny at just the right level. It is full of gadgetry, jokes, cliched situations and cliched characters. It has a mystery to be solved—how to decode gnommish and thus gain inside information on the rules of fairy behaviour—and this is done with all the computer gadgetry you could wish for. It has a level of violence not often found in books for this age but as it is wrapped in parody every reader will instantly know that this is not for real; that it is a take-off and that it is OK to laugh at it. And too there is the fact that no-one is actually killed.

No wonder film options have been taken on it.

This is the first time that Eoin Colfer has been published outside of Ireland. A school teacher with six successful books under his belt, Colfer sent his book off to a London agent at the urging of his family. He is reported to have been on playground duty when he heard the news that Penguin had just signed on Artemis … with the largest advance ever for a first-time author.

Is Artemis Fowl going to be another Harry Potter? I don't think so. Harry exists in a place that is especially his, and will only become more so as the movie cements his place in the public consciousness. However, that said, I predict Artemis will be hugely popular and there will be a queue waiting for the second and third instalments of the planned trilogy.

Did I forget to mention Artemis's age? He's twelve-years-old and as the satyr geek in charge of LEPrecon's computer set-up says, And that's young, even for a human.

Janice M. Del Negro (review date July-August 2001)

SOURCE: Del Negro, Janice M. Review of Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 54, no. 11 (July-August 2001): 406-07.

[In Artemis Fowl, ] Artemis Fowl is a twelve-year-old multimillionaire genius whose family made its fortune through skullduggery and chicanery, and the boy is determined to follow in his ancestors' larcenous footsteps. With the help of Butler (bodyguard, enforcer, and family retainer), Artemis gets his hands on a copy of The Book, a Bible of fairy law and lore.

He kidnaps a fairy (Captain Holly Short) and demands a ton of 24-karat gold in ransom; the fairies, apparently no strangers to extortion, send in an elite strike force to rescue the hostage. Fairy folk notwithstanding, Colfer's novel is more suspense than fantasy, and the rising action supports the pace. The paramilitary humor leans a tad toward the adult, but the characters' motivations are easily recognizable, and readers will appreciate Artemis' growing conscience, Holly Short's compulsion to heal even the deadly Butler, and the camaraderie of the ground troops. Opening characterizations appear shallow but are later refined to include more psychological nuance, and the plot/concept holds together well. This is an action novel that's bound to build a fan base among more hardware-oriented fantasy fans.

Christine M. Heppermann (review date July-August 2001)

SOURCE: Heppermann, Christine M. Review of Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. Horn Book Magazine 77, no. 4 (July-August 2001): 449.

Meet Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter's Irish evil twin. A twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, Fowl brings the fairy folk to their knees when he steals their sacred book (translating it on his computer), and kidnaps one of their own, demanding gold for a ransom. Yet while the Harry Potter series exposes the magic tucked within the mundane, Artemis Fowl goes the opposite route. These fairies opt for technological gadgets over pixie dust and, if their dialogue is any indication, seem au courant with our cheesy action movies ("Freeze, Mud Boy"). In fact, Colfer informs us, leprechauns aren't the knicker-wearing, shamrockwaving creatures humans think they are. They are actually "an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police," a.k.a. LEPrecon unit. The self-conscious revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force with friction among the ranks occurs throughout the novel, stealing focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself. It is a relief to see fleeting chinks in Artemis's James Bondstyle cool, as when he thinks about his mother, who has become severely depressed and delusional since the disappearance of Artemis's father. Still, the long stretches devoted to the fairy world's maneuverings, which only readers fond of technical detail will find appealing, overwhelm these moments. There's a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story, and may well be deployed to better effect in the feature film slated for next year.

ARTEMIS FOWL: THE ARCTIC INCIDENT (2002)

Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 May 2002)

SOURCE: Review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, by Eoin Colfer. Kirkus Reviews 70, no. 10 (15 May 2002): 730.

In this sequel to Artemis Fowl, (2001) [Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, ] the intellectual brilliance and total lack of scruples of the eponymous hero have enabled him to use his father's criminal empire to accumulate a vast fortune. Artemis utilizes this money to finance the search for his father, still missing two years after a disastrous and almost legitimate foray into Russia. Upon the receipt of an e-mailed picture, supposedly of his father, Artemis and his bodyguard, Butler, start the journey to Russia, only to be abducted by an old adversary Captain Holly Short, of the fairy police, LEPrecon. Holly and her commander erroneously suspect Artemis of masterminding a smuggling ring. The deal Artemis and Butler make with the LEPrecon officers (Artemis lends his brain to solve the smuggling puzzle; LEPrecon lends its advanced technology to the search for Fowl, Senior) leads to a series of major and minor disasters, which provide suspense and tension to this well-plotted story. Characterization is slight but amusing: Holly Short, first female captain in the LEPrecon is a feisty but warmhearted fairy, Foaly the centaur head of LEPrecon's technology department is brilliant if irascible, and the dwarf, Mulch, is hilarious, full of himself and of dwarf gas—don't ask. Filled with puns, word plays, and inventive new concepts about the fairy realm, this mix of fantasy and science fiction will delight fans and make converts of new readers. An exhilarating Celtic caper that stands very nicely indeed on its own merits.

Kevin Steinberger (review date July 2002)

SOURCE: Steinberger, Kevin. Review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, by Eoin Colfer. Magpies 17, no. 3 (July 2002): 33.

Artemis is back [in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident ] and how he has changed! To be sure, he is still the mercenary little beast with ruthless ambition. But his mother is now over the loss of her husband and out of the torpor that enabled Artemis to freely enact his grand criminal schemes. So he is back at St Bartleby's School for Young Gentlemen. There, during a session with a counsellor (a lopsided battle of wits), bodyguard Butler alerts Artemis to an e-mail image from Russia—it seems Fowl Snr. did survive the sinking of his blackmarket-Cola freighter and is in the hands of the Russian Mafia.

Meanwhile, deep down in the earth among the Lower Elements, Capt. Holly Short is on menial watch duties pending an inquiry into the Artemis Fowl affair which saw the loss of fairy gold to the young villain. She spots smugglers, no less than the B'wa Kell (a criminal goblin triad) smuggling in AAA batteries. Artemis Fowl is the suspected mastermind. Through fairy magic he is captured and brought in for interrogation. But, lo, he knows nothing. What to do? Would you believe the fairies and Artemis Fowl join forces! At stake is the security of the fairies' world. And Artemis needs fairy magic to rescue his father. Rip-roaring adventure follows and proceeds apace through the labyrinthine magma chutes in the earth's crust and across the frozen tundra and in the Murmansk nuclear sub graveyard, all the way through the 288 pages of glib prose and flip, tongue-in-cheek humour. The intrigue is as thick as the polar ice, the action as hot as the magma that threatens to engulf the heroes on their perilous mission. But good triumphs. Artemis returns to his counsellor, a changed lad. No longer sassy but concerned that his father may find out what his son was up to in his two-year absence.

James Blasingame (review date November 2002)

SOURCE: Blasingame, James. Review of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, by Eoin Colfer. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 46, no. 3 (November 2002): 272-73.

[In the following review, Blasingame argues that the plot and characterization in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident "would make J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Roddenbery, George Lucas, or Ian Fleming proud."]

LEPrecon is an acronym for the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Squad, an elite law enforcement unit charged with maintaining law and order among the supernatural creatures of the earth, including elves, pixies, centaurs, goblins, trolls, dwarves, and any other creatures that fall under the designation of fairies. Elf and former police captain Holly Short had previously belonged to LEPrecon before the career disaster of being captured and held for ransom by Artemis Fowl, 12-year-old genius and alleged criminal mastermind from Eoin Colfer's previous work, entitled simply Artemis Fowl. As the only female member of LEPrecon, Holly had been especially embarrassed and humiliated that Artemis, not only a boy but also a "Mud Boy," as the fairies condescendingly call humans, had been able to use her as a pawn in his successful outsmarting of the fairy police.

Although Holly may revel in the thought of getting revenge on Artemis, fairy rules forbid it: "The Book, the fairy bible, stated that once a human being had managed to separate fairies from their gold, then that gold was his to keep" (p. 15). And so, as Colfer's sequel [Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident ] opens, the former Captain Short, demoted to the rank and role of customs agent, sits night after night monitoring an unused tunnel connecting the fairy world to the human world above. When she uncovers a smuggling operation aimed at arming a goblin terrorist network with battery-powered lasers, her first suspicion is that her old nemesis, Artemis Fowl, is once more up to no good. But Artemis proves to be innocent, and much to her chagrin Holly finds herself shoulder to shoulder with the boy genius fighting to save the earth. Artemis's genius and Holly's courage ultimately overcome the evil ambition of Opal Koboi, CEO and owner of technology giant Koboi Laboratories, and Commander Briar Cudgeon, a fairy police officer gone bad. This novel puts supernatural powers, brute strength, strength of character, intelligence, and skill with computer technology all on an even par.

Colfer's sequel has a plot and characters that would make J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Roddenbery, George Lucas, or Ian Fleming proud. Peopled with spies, goblins, dwarves, trolls, elves, pixies, centaurs, Russian mafia, and an English boys' school psychologist, this story has the charm of a fairy tale, the wonder of a sword-and-sorcery fantasy, and the futuristic gadgets of a good science fiction novel. Fairies and humans alike depend on their laptops, networks, and satellite signals to provide measures, countermeasures, and counter-countermeasures in their battle for dominance of the earth, both above and below ground. Strategy, bravery, technology, and magic vie back and forth, as the novel accelerates toward an ending that leaves plenty of room for the next novel in this highly successful series.

ARTEMIS FOWL: THE ETERNITY CODE (2003)

Publishers Weekly (review date 31 March 2003)

SOURCE: Review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, by Eoin Colfer. Publishers Weekly 250, no. 13 (31 March 2003): 68-9.

Even better than The Arctic Incident, this third fantasy thriller starring Artemis Fowl [Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code ] pits the 13-year-old criminal mastermind against his most cunning adversary yet—American billionaire Jon Spiro, owner of the high-tech firm Fission Chips. Artemis Fowl's father, while recuperating from the brush with death he suffered in the last installment, makes a stunning announcement: he wants the family to turn over a new leaf and hew to the straight and narrow. Fortunately for readers, Artemis has other plans. "One last adventure, then the Fowls could be a proper family," he decides. After all, what could go wrong? Everything, as it turns out. Artemis's scheme to extract one metric ton of gold from Spiro, in exchange for keeping the C Cube—a beyond-state-of-the-art computer he's built using pirated fairy technology—off the market, backfires spectacularly. In order to save Butler, his bodyguard, and set things back to rights in the fairy world, Artemis joins forces with Butler's sister Juliet and drafts the help of the usual suspects (elf captain Holly Short, computer-geek centaur Foaly, flatulent dwarf Mulch Diggums). Once again, Colfer serves up a high-intensity plot involving cryogenics and a mobster mentality as the action hurtles toward the climactic break-in at Chicago's Spiro Needle. Agile prose (Jon Spiro is "thin as a javelin"), rapid-fire dialogue and wise-acre humor ("Goblins. Evolution's little joke. Pick the dumbest creatures on the planet and give them the ability to conjure fire") ensure that readers will burn the midnight oil to the finish. (The ending leaves the door wide open for yet another sequel.) Ages 12-up.

Kevin Steinberger (review date July 2003)

SOURCE: Steinberger, Kevin. Review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, by Eoin Colfer. Magpies 18, no. 3 (July 2003): 37.

When Artemis Fowl first ventured onto the literary landscape few people would have warmed to the twelve-year-old computer genius. Sure, he was trying to keep his family financially afloat after the mysterious disappearance of his father. But he was doing himself no favours with readers by scheming against the benign fairies to steal their gold. However, he redeemed himself somewhat in The Arctic Incident when he helped the fairies smash a B'wa Kell triad infiltration of their Haven City. But he did expect in return that they would help him rescue his captive father from the Russian Mafiya. Now, in Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code emerges a truly more likable Artemis who redeems himself to the readers and the little folk. He's a little older now, perhaps more mature and those fairies have saved his hide more than once. But, more significantly, his father is back home.

Fowl Snr is still recuperating. Disturbingly, for Artemis, the trauma of his captivity seems to have changed his personality. A spirit of love and generosity for his fellows has supplanted dubious mercenary business practice. Before his father recovers, Artemis is determined to have one last bash at making a fortune. With fairy technology Artemis constructs the 'C-Cube'—a tiny multifunctional computer of bewildering information and communication potential. With it he tries to blackmail a fortune out of the owner of the world's biggest IT corporation. But he's no man to mess with and Artemis comes off second best. He's lost the cube and with it the secrets of fairy technology, that is if the Eternity Code can be broken. And only Artemis knows it. The fairy operatives go above ground to save the boy and to retrieve the C-Cube and reclaim exclusively their technology. Ultimately, the real test for Artemis lies in surviving the loss of fairy technology and his father's imprecations for a benevolent attitude to one and all.

Again, a wonderfully imagined story of fast-paced action, suspense, flip humour, amusing irony and a cast of endearing if oddball characters.

Janice M. Del Negro (review date July-August 2003)

SOURCE: Del Negro, Janice M. Review of Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, by Eoin Colfer. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 56, no. 11 (July-August 2003): 440-41.

Artemis Fowl (of Artemis Fowl, BCCB 7/01, and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, 6/02) is back [in Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code ], and this time he's bitten off more than he—and his nearly indestructible bodyguard, Butler—can chew. When a plan to extort money from communications magnate Jon Spiro by holding back Artemis' new invention (the C Cube, a combination of computer and fairy technology) goes awry, the Cube is stolen, and Butler is seriously wounded. Artemis' quick thinking and large wallet get his beloved bodyguard on ice, cryogenically speaking, long enough for Captain Holly Short of LEP (fairyland's Lower Elements Police) to come to the medical, magical rescue. The theft of Artemis' invention also puts all of fairyland at risk of exposure, so one daring plan later Artemis, Holly, Juliet (Butler's younger sister, just as deadly if a bit unorthodox), and Mulch Diggums (digger dwarf extraor-dinaire) infiltrate Spiro's citadel in downtown Chicago to retrieve the Cube. Colfer combines fantasy with science-fiction hardware to satisfying effect, and fans of the previous titles won't be disappointed. The action is gratifyingly fast and cunningly complicated, and the return of familiar favorite characters (plus the expanded role of Juliet, the bodyguard-rising) provides a cast worthy of the adventure. The villains are organized-crime caricatures limited by their stereotypes but still effective as plot participants; main characters are allowed more depth, and Artemis in particular is evolving into a character dealing with complex moral issues. The conclusion—wherein Artemis and entourage are mind-wiped of any memories of the fairy realm—leaves Artemis without the conscience he has gained through his association with the fairies, a situation that reprises ethical questions raised at the beginning of the book. Will Artemis find the clue he planted that will lead to total recall? A sequel, if not secure, is eminently feasible.

THE LEGEND OF SPUD MURPHY (2004)

Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 August 2004)

SOURCE: Review of The Legend of Spud Murphy, by Eoin Colfer. Kirkus Reviews 72, no. 16 (15 August 2004): 803.

Being one of five brothers isn't easy on Will Woodman [in The Legend of Spud Murphy ]. He's in the upper middle, so he's too young to be in charge and too old to escape blame through strategic use of cuteness. He and his elder brother Marty are mortified when their parents decide to drop them off at the library a few times a week. They're mortified because Spud Murphy is their town librarian, and she hates children. She makes youngsters stay in the children's area, which is in front of a single shelf of kids' books on a small square of carpet. Marty tests Spud and ends up with a very embarrassing stamp in permanent ink on his arm. The boys accidentally discover that reading is fun and quickly exhaust the children's books. When shy Will breaks library rules in search of a new book, Spud's reaction and Will's punishment are nothing like he expected. Colfer aims at a younger audience and hilariously hits the mark, Spud—er, Angela—Murphy is not a stereotypical librarian by any stretch, and young readers will hoot over Will's wry narration. (Fiction. 7-12)

Jeff Zaleski (review date 13 September 2004)

SOURCE: Zaleski, Jeff. Review of The Legend of Spud Murphy, by Eoin Colfer. Publishers Weekly 251, no. 37 (13 September 2004): 79.

Colfer (Artemis Fowl ) launches a new series with [The Legend of Spud Murphy, ] this slender tale of two brothers, nine-year-old Will and 10-year-old Marty. Their mother, determined to find something educational for them to do during the summer, decides the boys should spend afternoons reading at the library. The librarian, Mrs. Murphy, reportedly hates kids and earned the nickname "Spud" because of a gas-powered potato gun she is rumored to hide under her desk with which she shoots noisy youngsters. "That's all I need…. Two more urchins messing up my shelves," grumbles the woman when the brothers arrive. She leads them to the children's section, a single box shelf with four rows of books, and forbids them to leave the patch of worn carpet in front of it. The tug of war between Spud and the siblings yields some humorous results, though the narrative becomes a bit syrupy when the boys, after days of pretending to read, actually get caught up in their books. In the ensuing weeks, "everything was wonderful. We had the time of our lives. Every new book opened the door to a new world." Spud predictably softens when she realizes that the brothers are hooked on books. The story's comic moments, brevity and message are well targeted to reluctant readers, but many middle graders will find this short on substance. Ages 7-up.

Christine McGinty (review date October 2004)

SOURCE: McGinty, Christine. Review of The Legend of Spud Murphy, by Eoin Colfer. School Library Journal 50, no. 10 (October 2004): 110-11.

Gr. 2-4—This hilarious offering [The Legend of Spud Murphy ] is the first in a new chapter-book series. When their parents become fed up with their boisterous behavior during summer vacation, Will and Marty Woodman are forced to do something educational: "Reading. It's perfect. How can you get into trouble reading a book?" The brothers will spend time at the library, despite their worries about the librarian, Mrs. "Spud" Murphy, who is feared by all children. According to the rumors, she uses a gas-powered gun to shoot potatoes at kids who make too much noise. When Mom drops them off later that afternoon, Mrs. Murphy leads them to the children's section and warns them that they are not to venture off of the carpet. Readers will immediately pick up that Marty has a problem following the rules and trouble ensues when he steps off the rug to cause some mischief. However, he has met his match in Spud, who silently appears on the scene like a "ninja librarian." The cartoon illustrations enhance the funny mood of the story. Youngsters, especially reluctant readers, will laugh out loud at this clever book, which can also be read aloud. A good choice for fans of Dav Pilkey, Jon Scieszka, and Ian Whybrow.

THE SUPERNATURALIST (2004)

Paula Rohrlick (review date May 2004)

SOURCE: Rohrlick, Paula. Review of The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer. KLIATT 38, no. 3 (May 2004): 8.

[In The Supernaturalist, a]bandoned by his parents as an infant, Cosmo Hill grows up in the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys, a ghastly orphanage that puts the boys to work testing dangerous products. It's escape or die, Cosmo realizes, and at age 14 he sees his chance and makes a break for freedom. The blighted future world of Satellite City is a tough place, and he's lucky enough to be rescued by the Supernaturalists. These three young people share Cosmo's gift of being able to see the Parasites, beings who seem to suck the life force out of people who are dying. The four devote themselves to hunting down these Parasites and trying to destroy them, only to learn their true nature—and discover who their real enemy is.

The action rarely lets up in this SF adventure by the author of the Artemis Fowl series and The Wish List. There are roof-top battles, a car race, and even a daring space walk. There are echoes of Ghostbusters, too, as it mixes some humor in with the pursuit of the supernatural, but there are serious moments as well and even a budding romance. An exciting read featuring a brave young protagonist, this will appeal to Colfer's many fans and win him new ones.

Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 May 2004)

SOURCE: Review of The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer. Kirkus Reviews 72, no. 9 (1 May 2004): 440.

In the future's Satellite City, where everything's controlled by an enormous satellite, [The Supernaturalist, ] a plot-twisting adventure includes supernatural creatures, a disenfranchised band of Supernaturalists, and abundant use of futuristic weapons. Fourteen-year-old Cosmo escapes from an orphanage that uses boys as medical and commercial lab rats and meets three people racing around rooftops on a mission. The mission: electrically zapping ghostlike blue creatures at accident scenes before the creatures drain people's life force. Stefan is the leader, Mona the mechanic, and Ditto—a 28-year-old genetic experiment with a six-year-old's body—the medic. Character motivations often serve plot and exposition, but the action is nonstop. Most memorable are the corporate and police structures and weapons (including a slug shot that wraps its victim instantly in cellophane, requiring a vat of acid for removal) and the intriguing, philosophically elusive nature of the blue supernatural creatures. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Saleena L. Davidson (review date July 2004)

SOURCE: Davidson, Saleena L. Review of The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer. School Library Journal 50, no. 7 (July 2004): 102.

Gr. 6-Up—[The Supernaturalist is] a suspenseful, cautionary science fiction tale. In a future dystopia, cities have become for-profit businesses. Orphanages are not exempt from the struggle to make money, and at the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys, kids are forced to endure product testing and frequently end up injured as a result. With orphans facing an average life expectancy of 15, 14-year-old Cosmo Hill knows that he is on borrowed time. Unfortunately, his escape attempt nearly proves fatal. While he's lying there dying, a small, hairless blue creature lands on his chest and begins to feed. He is rescued by the Supernaturalists, a motley crew of young people who have dedicated their lives to destroying the Parasites, which feed on the essence of the living. Cosmo joins the group as a Spotter, someone who can actually see the creatures and thus destroy them. However, facts soon emerge that cause the Supernaturalists to question everything they believe in. Is it possible that the Parasites don't feed off of the energy of dying people, but remove pain? Are they actually beneficial to society? The plot's twists and turns will keep readers totally engrossed until the last page. Colfer's futuristic world seems plausible; his characters have strengths, flaws, and histories that account for their points of view. The ending is satisfying yet open to the possibility of a sequel. For anyone who loves science fiction, or just an engrossing story, this novel is a must-read.

Janice M. Del Negro (review date September 2004)

SOURCE: Del Negro, Janice M. Review of The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 58, no. 1 (September 2004): 10-11.

[In The Supernaturalist ] Cosmo Hill, fourteen-year-old orphan, escapes from the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys when a bus crash frees him from a sadistic guard. The boy is rescued by a strange trio—Stefan, Mona, and Ditto—who take Cosmo in after realizing that he is a Spotter, one of few who can see the blue Parasites that suck the life force from injured humans. Led by the enigmatic Stefan, the small band of self-named Supernaturalists roam Satellite City looking for Parasites in order to destroy them. Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl series, BCCB 7/01, etc.) tries his hand here at some futuristic science fiction, creating a world in which orphans are used as experimental lab rats and corporations gain profit by any means necessary. Colfer's decaying urban streets glitter with Gotham City-like allure, and the pseudo-militaristic action will certainly appeal to hardware-focused readers. Characterizations are paper-thin, however, and the backstory just doesn't hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny. The plot careens out of control early and subsequently relies on labored convenience and far-fetched (even for science fiction) chase-and-escape sequences to move the characters toward the final, anticlimactic revelation. Those seeking the nuanced thrill of fictional science should look to classic Card or newly minted Anderson.

HALF-MOON INVESTIGATIONS (2006)

Publishers Weekly (review date 30 January 2006)

SOURCE: Review of Half-Moon Investigations, by Eoin Colfer. Publishers Weekly 253, no. 5 (30 January 2006): 70.

[Half-Moon Investigations, t]his tale from the author of Artemis Fowl tracks the hilarious exploits of brainiac Fletcher Moon, a mere 12 years old and already a graduate of an online detective course. His first case: über-brat April Devereux, "head of an entire tribe of Barbies," hires him to find out who swiped the lock of a pop star's hair that she bought on eBay. Suspicion centers on Red Sharkey, oldest son of the town's leading crime family. Unraveling the mystery leads Fletcher to break rule No. 1 in his detective's handbook—"Be invisible"—and most of the other rules, too. The large but distinctive supporting cast includes a female school principal whose iron hand is aided by a pair of menacing Dobermans, and Fletcher's older sister, Hazel, who works out her boy troubles by writing plays and poetry while locked in her bedroom. "How about a rhyme for pathetic?" she asks Fletcher, who suggests "prosthetic" (this for Hazel's "epic poem about [his] date with April"). While the setting is suburban and the well-to-do kids have the same fixations as their American cousins, Colfer tailors the details specifically to Ireland. April's cousin May is a step dancer ("Go and do your River-dance thing," April says dismissively at one point), the boys play hurling ("the Irish sporting version of pitched battle") and swear loyalty by invoking the Irish marble oath, "Brick miss must celt." It's a place many readers will very much enjoy visiting. Ages 10up.

FURTHER READING

Criticism

Colfer, Eoin, and Kate Kellaway. "Elf and Happiness." London Observer (13 May 2001): 16.

Colfer discusses writing Artemis Fowl and the novel's ensuing success.

Eccleshare, Julia. "Ice-Cool Artemis." Guardian (London, England) (8 June 2002): 33.

Compliments Colfer's blend of technological thriller, mythological quest, and family bonding narrative in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident.

Jones, Michael M. Review of The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer. Science Fiction Chronicle 26, no. 3 (March 2004): 38.

Praises The Wish List as a "inventive, energetic, fast-paced story of morality, mortality, regret, and redemption."

―――――――. Review of Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. Science Fiction Chronicle 24, no. 10 (October 2002): 3.

Notes Colfer's "refreshingly different" prose style in Artemis Fowl.

Additional coverage of Colfer's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Thomson Gale: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 48; Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Vol. 16; Contemporary Authors, Vol. 205; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 131; Literature Resource Center; and Something about the Author, Vol. 148.

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