Assorted

Fortunately the Milk… Is Good!

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Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman, Coraline and many other fine works has written a new novel aimed at younger readers and it is a fun adventure no matter what age you happen to be.  He has taken a literal smorgasbord of ideas and thrown them into a pot and come up with a great book about a bottle of milk and its trials and tribulations from the corner store to the house where it will soon be consumed.  It just so happens the journey would not be as linear as it would appear taking the milk through time and space before its final destination.

In actuality, the book is not only about the milk though it almost seems like the main protagonist.  Two sisters, whose mother has gone out of town, are making their breakfast one day and as are about to make their cereal they realize they are out of milk.  Orange juice will not work obviously and so their well meaning father decides to go to the store and fetch some.  On the way back though he just happens to run into some aliens, pirates and a time-travelling stegosaurus named Professor Steg.  Of course, hilarious exploits ensue to get the milk back home.

The book is a treasure to behold in design elements alone.  The text in this great little tome is extremely creative in the way it changes to match sound effects, to direct action such as a downward motion or to signify adjectives like having the word ‘floating’ look like its floating.  The text also changes during the father’s recitation whenever the daughters interrupt to ask a question which is a nice way to break up the main body of the story and make it fun for the reader.  In addition to all of that, the content moves to fit the drawings by the incomparable Skottie Young.  His illustrations are ingenious and a nice progression from his work on Marvel’s various Wizard of Oz books.  They flow with the text and provide great visuals for the reader chronicling the journey of the father and the milk
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It is funny to note, whether by accident or purposeful planning, the father of this tale is quite reminiscent of the fourth actor to play Doctor Who, Tom Baker, right down to the scarf.  Sure, the hair is tamed a bit and he is not wearing a tie, but it is quite a remarkable coincidence that he travels through time and sports the most distinctive piece of clothing the Doctor wore.

Gaiman’s choice of using first person narrative works well, and his use of simple characterizations of things like balloons, especially by Professor Steg is fun and holds great appeal to the reader.   Everything about this book, from cover to cover is a perfect example of how a children’s book should be done.  It would be nice to see an animated version of this come out on film as the book is a perfect fit for the medium.  A lively, entertaining and comical romp by Gaiman and Young and recommended to all who have ever gone out to pick up milk and gotten a bit distracted on the way.

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