Oct 18, 2013

Fortunately, the Milk

 Can a container of milk save the entire universe? Sounds unlikely, but you never know what is possible when the wonderful Neil Gaiman is in control. If you read his newest children's novel, Fortunately, the Milk, you may be surprised to discover the sort of heroic feats one can accomplish with a container of milk.

The whimsical story begins with a fairly typical uninspiring conundrum, there is no milk for the children to eat their breakfast cereal or for Dad to have with his tea. Mom is out of town for the week on a work trip leaving Dad in charge of the house and family and he has forgotten to pick up more milk. Dad leaves his two children staring at their bowls of dry cereal to quickly pick up some milk. Time goes by, "ages" according to the children, until Dad finally returns home with the milk in hand. The children ask what took him so long, curious whether he was held up chatting with a friend at the market. Indeed, he said hello to a friend, but that was not what held him up. He was held up due to his run-in with various crazed snot aliens obsessed with redecorating the Earth. To escape, he had to use the emergency exit through the space-time continuum door, which only led to more dangerous encounters. Reader, are you enticed yet?!

Upon entering the emergency exit, he is dropped into the ocean only to be scooped up by the Queen of Pirates and her crew. He is saved by a genius stegosaurus in a hot air balloon time machine, or a "Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier" as Professor Steg calls it. Dad travels through space and time with the amazing dinosaur, clutching his container of milk the entire time. The two of them meet many other raucous, unfriendly characters along the way and eventually must face off with the disgustingly drippy aliens once again. Aliens who are bent on replacing the Earth's trees with plastic pink flamingos I must add.  

The story is a great, short read filled to the brim with hilarious scenes and unlikely creatures (ahem, enter dinosaur police force). I laughed and giggled out loud at many passages and the book is filled with Gaiman's signature humor. The illustrations by Young are equally impressive and lend a further lightheartedness to this slightly absurd story. This is a good middle grade pick for readers who may not be drawn to Gaiman's other wonderful, but significantly darker, tales. Fortunately, the Milk would be a splendid reading option for adventure, fantasy and science fiction fans alike. What better way to spend a rainy October afternoon then traveling through time with a genius stegosaurus in a hot air balloon?

Gaiman, Neil. Fortunately, the Milk. Illustrated by Skottie Young. 114 p. Harper. 2013.