Book Review: Fortunately, the Milk
Have you ever noticed that parents have a way of sometimes spinning outlandish tales to explain otherwise mundane things? I know my father certainly does. There is an art to parental storytelling that includes pacing, sequence, hyperbole, and commentary. And, knowing that the storytelling probably is just a story, it seems that children absolutely delight in it!
I think this is what makes Neil Gaiman’s latest contribution to children’s literature so very wonderful. Fortunately, the Milk is the story of a boy, his sister, and their father, home together for a few days while their mother is on a business trip. The father is known for being a little scatter-brained, so the mother makes sure she leaves him very, very, very detailed instructions. One morning the children wake up to discover there is no milk for their cereal and their father decides to go to the corner market to get some.
He is gone for ages and ages and ages. When he returns, the children ask what took so long. And then begins a classic parental story of adventure and heroism. Abducted by space aliens, kidnapped by pirates, and saved by a super-intelligent time-traveling dinosaur, father outwits worshipers of Splod, escapes from wumpires, and saves the world from being remodeled by snot-like creatures from space. Throughout, father manages to, fortunately, hold onto the milk and keep it safe.
The children tell him that they don’t believe a word of his tale, but the end makes you wonder: was it actually true?
Accompanying Mr. Gaiman’s masterful storytelling are delightful illustrations by Scottie Young. Fortunately, the Milk is likely to become a personal favourite that I read to my students, other children, and myself year after year after year. Not only is the story fantastic, the writer’s craft that Neil Gaiman uses will allow this short story to serve as a mentor text for organisation, word choice, voice, and so many other traits of quality writing!