Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fortunately, the Milk

Fortunately, the Milk
by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by Skottie Young
Recommended Ages: 8+

I was browsing the young readers' section at Barnes and Noble when a young lady who was stocking the shelves told me to look at this book. "It's absolutely hilarious," she said. And so it is. A thin, quickly read book in Neil Gaiman's most lighthearted register, it features the story a dad tells his two kids to explain why it took him so long to fetch a bottle of milk from the corner store.

The father's story involves time travel, an alien invasion, a pirate ship, a stegosaurus piloting a hot air balloon, a volcano god and his worshipers, a herd of brightly colored ponies, bloodthirsty wumpires (sic) and more. At each crucial turn of events, the fate of the milk and the children's waiting breakfast cereal proves more and more significant until the existence of the universe itself depends on it. And when, finally, the children doubt their dad's tale, he produces undeniable proof: "Here's the milk!"

Skottie Young's illustrations take up at least as much room as Neil Gaiman's words, and they are just as important to the enjoyment of a story that begs, with puppy-dog eyes, to be read out loud by an adult to one or more children. Neil Gaiman is such an important author of graphic novels that he probably needs no introduction, other than to mention that his children's picture books include Crazy Hair and the Chu's Day trilogy. I have read many of his novels, but I am still looking forward to reading some of them, such as Odd and the Frost Giants and the sequels to InterWorld, co-authored by Michael Reaves. And of course, I have yet to be inducted into the world of Sandman.

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