Thanks to bookshelves of doom I learned about this really fascinating review of China Mieville's Un Lun Dun, which ran in The New York Times Book Review. Others have already commented on the lovely tone of reviewer Dave Itzkoff's first paragraph: "I sometimes wonder how any self-respecting author of speculative fiction can find fulfillment in writing novels for young readers...where's the artistic satisfaction? Where’s the dignity?"
One could ask the same question of book reviewers.
What I found particularly interesting about this review is that last March Salon carried a review of the same book in which the reviewer also saw her opportunity to turn her nose up at children's books, for which she called Un Lun Dun an "antidote." "Sick of seemingly insignificant characters who discover they have a secret identity and a momentous destiny? Tired of stories that hinge on cryptic prophecies and the retrieval of magical talismans?"
I still haven't read Un Lun Dun, but the impression I'm getting from these both snarky and gushing reviews is that people who don't normally like children's books or may not even read them as a general rule find themselves embarrassed to have to admit that they really, really like this one. Thus they have to find some kind of excuse. If I don't like children's books, but I like this children's book, then it must transcend its genre. Yeah, that's the ticket.
By the way, the column in which The New York Times review of Mieville's book appears also includes a review of Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, which just happens to be waiting for me upstairs.