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Fortunately, the Milk Paperback – September 30, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A tale of the bravery and selflessness exhibited by a father taking care of his children while his wife is away. Despite Mom's advance warning, the family finds itself ready for breakfast but without milk for cereal and tea, so Dad takes a trip to the store to get some. Upon his long-awaited return, he gives the children a fantastical and descriptive explanation of the adventures he faced while trying to make it back home. Not only did he embark on a time-traveling hot-air balloon ride with a stegosaurus, but he also confronted pirates, aliens, wumpires, and a volcano god, never losing possession of the milk. Gaiman knocks it out of the park again with this imaginative story. His outrageous plot is perfectly paced to keep advanced and reluctant readers enthralled, and his use of onomatopoeia and humorous descriptions will make the book hard to put down. Reminiscent of Roald Dahl's titles, it will sweep children away into an unimagined world and make them wonder if their own parents have ever had any secret adventures. Young's frequent black-and-white cartoons add to the wackiness of this tall tale.-Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DEα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A little boy and his little sister awake one morning, milkless. Their mother is away on business, their father is buried in the paper, and their Toastios are dry. What are young siblings to do? They impress upon their father that his tea is also without milk and sit back to watch their plan take effect. But something goes amiss, and their father doesn’t return and doesn’t return some more. When he does, finally, he has a story to tell, a story involving aliens; pirates; ponies; wumpires (not the handsome, brooding kind); and a stegosaurus professor who pilots a Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier (which looks suspiciously like a hot-air balloon). There is time travel, treachery, and ample adventure, and, fortunately, the milk he has procured is rescued at every turn. Gaiman’s oversize, tongue-in-cheek narrative twists about like the impromptu nonsense it is, with quick turns, speed bumps, and one go-for-broke dairy deus ex machina. Young fills the pages with sketchy, highly stylized images, stretched and pointy, bringing the crazed imaginations to life with irrepressible energy. Children will devour this one, with or without milk. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A national media campaign and select author appearances are on the docket to celebrate the release of Newbery Award–winning Gaiman’s latest. Grades 3-6. --Thom Barthelmess --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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`Fortunately, the Milk. . . ' being Gaiman's children's foray, his Bloomsbury publishers know they can be a bit more blunt and honest with their younger readers. Hence this very apt author billing of 'Ridiculously Bestselling Author'
The book is about a father left in charge of his two children when their mum goes off to a conference. But the first disaster strikes at breakfast-time, when they run out of milk. So it's up to dad to trot down to the corner store for a refill . . . but he takes ages and ages, and it's only upon his return that the children discover what took him so long.
The whole book is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and there's something here for the intended 8-12 readership, as well as the parents for whom this will be bedtime reading. For the kids there are; Dwarves, wumpires, a stegosaurus, aliens, pirates, ponies, a volcano god . . . then for the adult readers there are some references to The Usual Suspects, a little Doctor Who-esque time travel conundrum and some making fun of Twilight. It's all a bit brilliant really. Even more so because Chris Riddell's illustrations have made the dad look like Neil Gaiman himself - which makes me think back on an old blog post Gaiman once posted about where he gets his ideas from.
Interestingly, there are two versions of Gaiman's latest children's book. There's the US and Canada book illustrated by Skottie Young - this version does not include a Neil-Father lookalike, and is perhaps the slightly more conventional children's book. Chris Riddell's illustrated book for Australia and UK includes the ellipsis in the title `. . . ' and the shiniest cover you ever did see. There's also some symmetry in Riddell lending his drawings to `Fortunately', because Riddell also illustrated the anniversary edition of `Coraline'.
Either way, Gaiman's extravagant story is a lot of fun with moments of quiet brilliance. I don't know about anyone else, but when I read the blurb for `Fortunately, the Milk. . . ' about a father who takes a jolly good time to get home to his children with their promised milk, I instantly thought of the old cliché prevalent in many stories; that a father went to buy a packet of cigarettes one morning and never came home. The basis being that father's don't really hold up so well in many stories; so I love that Gaiman took that old cliché and made a minor hero of this father and detailed his grand adventures to get home to his kids.
Oh! And never forget, "where there is milk, there is hope."
I'm a big, big fan of children's literature. I buy children's books for my sake as well as for my children's sake and I prefer books that leave an impression on you - Plots you get involved in, characters you care about, and when the book ends you feel you want to start it all over again. This book does not even come close to that. It will leave you untouched and I'm not sure you'll ever want to re read it.
I know some people have compared Gaiman to Douglas Adams, but in my opinion he falls ( very ) short in that comparison. True, they do share witty and quirky sense of humor but Adams could make you roar with laughter and also make you care deeply for what happened to his characters.
My children's verdict was that the book was "fun and interesting" " The end was funny" but other than that the book sparked no discussion. I might also add that we've all enjoyed the whacky illustrations.
Fortunately the Milk is about what happens when a dad is allowed to go fetch the milk for the morning cereal and, if left unattended, all the wonderful mischief he can get into.
This book has everything from pirates to hot air balloon (sorry, Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier) manned by a Stegosaurus to green mucus aliens to volcano gods and even to piranhas. Through it all, our brave parental unit keeps tight hold of the milk, but is it possible to keep the milk safe when it might just be the only thing between life and the complete destruction of the universe?
I found Fortunately the Milk to be witty, fantastical and just a little bit mad, in the best sense of the word. The illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to such a madcap adventure. This is a story that will appeal to both the young and the young at heart.