It is very easy to sound a bit patronising when you say that kids are better readers to write for than a lot of adults. But I actually mean it. Of course, I don't mean children are better at knowing what 'discombobulation' means - a word I am proud to say I have never used in print. Nor do I mean they will always appreciate your subtle allusions to Dostoyevsky. But what I do mean, as someone who has written novels for adults and children - plus one which has been marketed as a crossover for both kids and adults - is that I often feel freer writing for a child's mind.
If you think of the classics of children's literature - from Alice in Wonderland through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and all the way to Harry Potter - I think what comes across is the absolute delight the author has in knowing they can go absolutely anywhere. A child of nine or ten knows that Cheshire Cats, Umpa Lumpas and Dementors don't actually exist - and couldn't exist - in reality, but they are far more willing to go with the illusion, and take fantasy on its own terms. For adults the two most popular genres of books, thrillers and romances, do of course throw up the odd classic, but generally those books will include characters that could physically exist. In other words, 'grown ups' like to escape into a world which is just a slightly better version of this one. But kids are happy to ride a steam train to Pluto.
And there might actually be some science to all this. Children do have broader imaginations, and developmental psychologists now believe this isn't just useful escapism from the early trials of human life. In fact imagination and reality aren't separate things. Imagination is how children learn to make sense of reality. After all, imagination is how we all understand stuff we don't actually experience first hand. If someone else is getting married or is ill or is caught in an earthquake it is our imaginations which let us appreciate how that other person might feel. For kids, that's even more important, because they need their imaginations to help them understand not just other people but their own future, which probably explains why kids play teachers and doctors or, in my son's case, Buzz Lightyear's stunt double.
So kids don't have too much of that annoying adult habit of saying, 'well, that couldn't happen'. For a child it doesn't matter. Imagination and reality - like sleep and wakefulness - are the two sides of the same human coin.