Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked this up as a Christmas present for one of my five nephews. But, having heard Neil Gaiman read an excerpt when he visited Saratoga Springs, I had to read the rest of it for myself, first.
Fortunately, the Milk is a tall tale in the classic sense, full of improbable coincidences and hilarious characters. It starts off as an absentminded father looking after his two kids, and forgetting to buy milk. When he does go to get it, he takes a long time coming back, and has a very creative story to explain what took so long. First he's kidnapped by aliens who want to redecorate the Earth, but he escapes through the time-space continuum and winds up with pirates, and is then rescued by a time-traveling stegosaurus. Then it gets really silly.
Even if you believe, as the kids in the story do, that it's all made up, it's still a fun story, full of twists and turns and unexpected resolutions. It's stuffed with plays on words and understated British humor, and the story made me laugh out loud more than once. It could be read either as the father making up a ridiculous story to distract the children from his irresponsibility, or it could be taken at face value. Either way, it's an enjoyable read.
The illustrations are fitting to the chaos of the story, and they lend credence to the father's tale. Skottie Young is a talented illustrator, and he seems inspired by the silliness, his drawings getting more detailed the more complicated the story gets.
It's too bad the nephew getting this as a present lives so far away. I'd love to see my sister's reaction when she first reads it aloud to him.
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