Neil Gaiman is considered to be one of the greatest writers of our day. Not just a great fantasy writer, no. He is a writer that many people believe transcends literature altogether. His most recent book, Fortunately, the Milk, proves just why he’s something else.
The story goes one day a boy and a girl wake up one morning to find that there is no more milk in the fridge. So the boy asks his dad to go get more milk. The dad takes a long time to come back and when he comes back he makes up this outrageous tale as to why he took so long.
What happens in this outrageous tale? He gets abducted by aliens, gets kidnapped by pirates, meets a talking stegosaurus inventor who has a time machine that’s a hot air balloon and other stuff I can’t say without spoilers.
Now, many of you are reading that and are probably doing that whole take a toke gesture. Yes, there’s a lot of weird stuff going here, but that’s the beauty of the novel. What Gaiman is doing here is he’s making the dad tell a story that’ll both entertain his little kids and make them think he had a great day. On top of that, look at the dad’s personality. When we meet him he seems like this laid back goofy guy. So it’s pretty obvious he’ll come up with something crazy to tell his kids.
This isn’t the first time stuff like this happens. Plenty of parents tell kids these outrageous stories. Yes, they may not be outrageous as this but they exist. Parents could tell kids they fought off a dragon which explains why they’re late when instead they were stuck in traffic for two hours. It’s these kinds of stories parents tell their kids to not only worry about them too much but also to enhance imagination.
Yeah, what you the parent are unconsciously doing is bringing up your kid to have complex thoughts. It’s not like telling them Santa Claus exists, this is more along the lines of making them come up with these insane and creative ideas. Look at some of the greatest writers out there. These people had insane stories told to them growing up and they even experienced things that are nuts. This could be anywhere from entering a contest where you eat twelve ultra spicy chicken wings in three minutes (me. Yes, I ate all twelve in time, but that’s for a different time) to extremes like getting captured by Al Qaeda. Humans need these crazy stories and experiences to be interesting.
That is why this story, on top of Gaiman’s brilliant writing, stands out among the other kids books coming out today. Think about it, do we really need another book based on a Disney Channel show where the story is so lazily written, the characters are “oh my god, kill me now” Stupid and tell even stupider jokes?
Skottie Young’s illustrations really bring this book alive. They are as weird as the story, but are so enjoyable to look at that it’s brilliant. He even took Gaiman’s alien description, which is just a blob with eyes and tentacles for arms (not THOSE kinds of tentacles. Get your head out of the gutter you pervert) and make it look astounding.
So, is this literary? Well, yes. It can be classified as literary. Is it a masterpiece? I wouldn’t go that far. But if you want a book that’s a joy to read, even with your little ones, then pick this up. It sure to be a family favorite.