Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Yesterday at the library, I picked up Neil Gaiman's new book for young readers, called "Fortunately, the Milk". The book is a quick read for adults like me and much lighter in tone and content than Gaiman's usual fare. "Milk" is a story told by an imaginative father to his two children, after taking a very long time to go to the corner store for milk. 

He meets pirates; a time-traveling, talking inventor who happens to be a Stegosaurus; island natives and their volcano God; and other odd characters along the way. The story is charming, amusing and the illustrations, by Skottie Young, are a perfect fit for the quirky nonsensical tale. 

Gaiman manages to cram a lot of story into a relatively short book. We know the mom is on a business trip; we know there is an upstairs toilet that's out of order; we know that the father loves his newspaper and tea; and we know that the brother and sister are clever and that their dad loves them. We know that the kids aren't sure whether they believe their dad's tale or not, and we know, without a doubt, that the milk is the key. 

The pacing is fast, the tale is woven in such a way as to keep you hooked from the first page to the last, and the illustrations are at least as amusing as the text, if not more.

The UK Version
Interestingly, while searching for an image to include in this review, I came across Gaiman's website, where there are two versions of the book .The American release (which I read), illustrated by Skottie Young, and the UK release, illustrated by Chris Riddell. I would love to see the alternate version. Or, rather, the UK-probably-original version. 

(I don't understand why publishers/authors think we Yanks need a different version of their books. I still don't own a UK version of the Harry Potter books, but I really wish I did. I can figure out what she means by "philosopher's stone". You don't have to dumb things down for me. Well, at least not all the time...)

"Fortunately, the Milk" is definitely a good little book worth reading. I think Gaiman fans will love it for his usual superb use of language (and winks at Doctor Who fans) and people who are not fans yet will probably like this as a first peek into his writing. Though, like I said, his work is usually much darker than this little tale.

Additionally: I brought it home and let my 11-year old daughter read it. She liked it a lot and said, "I didn't believe a word of it!" With a big grin on her face.

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