This week’s book is one of the most creative and entertaining books that I’ve read in a long time. It’s fast-paced and hilarious.
“Fortunately, the Milk” was written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young. The book is intended for ages 8 to 12, but if you’re an adult reader, don’t let that stop you. You can read the book’s about 110 pages in a hurry — it’s filled with action and, best of all, you will chuckle all the while.
Better yet, read it to a kid.
Gaiman, who now lives in the U.S. but used to live in England, has written books for adults and children. He is a best-selling author and has won a bunch of awards, including the Hugo and Nebula. One of his books, “The Graveyard Book,” won both the Newbery (U.S.) and Carnegie (U.K.) Medals for writing.
Young, the illustrator, also is an award-winning cartoonist and writer. He has won several Eisner Awards. Young has done work in animation for Marvel, Warner Brothers, Image Comics, Mattel, Cartoon Network and more.
Combine the talents of Gaiman and Young, and you get an absolutely delightful book.
The book begins when two sisters are getting ready for breakfast, but they can’t eat their Toastios cereal without milk. Dad can’t have his tea without milk, either, so he goes out to the corner shop to buy some.
The mum of the family left the previous day to go to a conference to present a paper on lizards. She left Dad with a list of instructions, and she was surprised that he could repeat them back to her because he was reading the newspaper at the time. But he didn’t remember that they were almost out of milk.
Now, there isn’t anything unusual about going out for milk, except that the girls have to wait and wait for him to return. Dad is gone for “ages and ages.” When he returns, the story shifts to his point of view as he tells them about his adventures after he bought the milk.
When he walks out of the store, Dad hears an unusual sound, like “thumm-thumm.” He looks up to see a silver disc hovering overhead. He is sucked up into the disc, milk and all. He puts the milk in his pocket and turns his attention to some greenish and globby-looking people. They ask Dad to turn the planet over to them so that they can remodel it.
Dad, one spunky guy, refuses. Instead he opens the emergency exit, despite all of the posted warnings not to, and jumps right into the sea. All this time, he hangs onto the milk.
Dad is rescued by the Queen of Pirates and her fellow pirates. He wants to walk the plank because he thinks he’ll be rescued and can get the milk home to his children so they can have breakfast. The pirates have never heard of a plank, but they put one up so Dad can fall into the sea.
But before he can jump, a rope appears overhead, and a voice tells him to grab the rope. Dad does and is pulled up into the basket of a hot air balloon, milk and all. The pilot is a stegosaurus who claims he invented the balloon, only he named it Professor Steg’s Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier.
The illustration of the balloon is funny, indeed. Wires, bolts, and some hard-to-describe parts resembling megaphones, light bulbs and buttons are poked into the side of the basket and hang down from the Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier. A time machine is a cardboard box with stones poked into the side. Steg named the stones special-shiny-clear stones, special-bluey-stones, etc., but Dad identifies them as diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
Dad tells the girls about the adventures with a god named Splod, some vampires that eat “vigglyvorms” covered with orange juice to make them “vigglier,” some harmonizing dinosaurs, piranhas, pastel ponies and still more characters. All the while, Dad has the milk, though he almost lost it once.
The girls don’t believe Dad’s story — not for a minute — but Dad says it’s true, and he has the proof!
This imaginative, delightful book is a winner.
“Fortunately, the Milk” is published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers (2013). The hardcover book is $14.99, or you can find the book at the Moffat County Library.