Fortunately, the Milk

Overview

"I bought the milk," said my father.

"I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m.

I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day.

And then something odd happened."

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Fortunately, the Milk

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Overview

"I bought the milk," said my father.

"I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m.

I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day.

And then something odd happened."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

It all begins with a short walk to the corner store to fetch a container of milk; but for the father narrator of Neil Gaiman's Fortunately, the Milk, there are no easy errands. On his way to pick up breakfast drinks, he gets abducted by aliens, but even that adventure is not the end of his travails. One early reviewer suggested that this picture book almost seems like Gaiman's challenge to outflank the resourcefulness of Skottie Young, his artist collaborator, but fortunately for us and the milk, he never does. An entertaining read; bound to be reread and reread.

Wall Street Journal
“[A] delightful tale.”
Newsday
“If your kids still allow you to read aloud to them, this book is for you.”
boingboing.com
“[A]n astounding tale…an absolute delight to read out loud….one part Douglas Adams, one part Doctor Who, and one part The Usual Suspects.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
This would also make a wonderful readaloud, but don’t be surprised if the kids insist that it be read in one sitting—and maybe with a side of cookies and milk.
Publishers Weekly
In a letter to readers, Gaiman explains that his rationale for writing this story, about a father who has taken an excessively long time to return from the corner store with milk for his children’s breakfast, stems from his reconsideration of the father in The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. That dad, he realized, is “not really a positive portrayal of fatherhood”—he is a lump. To compensate, “I would write a book in which a father did all of the sorts of exciting things that fathers actually do.” He may have to try again: the father in this story is abducted by aliens, made to walk the plank by pirates, and rescued by a stegosaurus in a balloon, among other outrageous escapades. It reads like an extemporaneous riff by a clever father asked a question he doesn’t want to answer, and it makes an excellent gift for those heroic fathers who consider reading aloud to their children one of parenthood’s greatest joys. Young’s wiry, exuberant b&w caricatures (not all seen by PW) are incorporated throughout. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
There is no milk for breakfast. The only liquid for the young narrator and his sister to pour on any of the many cereals they have is orange juice, and they are not keen to go that route. Fortunately, their dad does not want to go without milk in his tea, and they are relieved when he offers to run to the corner store for milk. A long time passes, but he eventually returns—with the milk and quite an explanation of just how perilous was his neighborhood errand, including aliens beset on taking over and redecorating the world, a time-traveling stegosaurus with a hot air balloon, a ship of pirates unfamiliar with walking the plank, a volcanic island with a large emerald, a coven of menacing "wumpires," and more. Join "Dad" on a fantastic voyage through time, space, and imagination in this latest offering from Newbery Award winning author Neil Gaiman and Eisner Award winning illustrator Skottie Young. Sure to be a hit—and an inspiration—for all ages. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
10/01/2013
Gr 3–6—A tale of the bravery and selflessness exhibited by a father taking care of his children while his wife is away. Despite Mom's advance warning, the family finds itself ready for breakfast but without milk for cereal and tea, so Dad takes a trip to the store to get some. Upon his long-awaited return, he gives the children a fantastical and descriptive explanation of the adventures he faced while trying to make it back home. Not only did he embark on a time-traveling hot-air balloon ride with a stegosaurus, but he also confronted pirates, aliens, wumpires, and a volcano god, never losing possession of the milk. Gaiman knocks it out of the park again with this imaginative story. His outrageous plot is perfectly paced to keep advanced and reluctant readers enthralled, and his use of onomatopoeia and humorous descriptions will make the book hard to put down. Reminiscent of Roald Dahl's titles, it will sweep children away into an unimagined world and make them wonder if their own parents have ever had any secret adventures. Young's frequent black-and-white cartoons add to the wackiness of this tall tale.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers used to say, "If you read only one book this year, make it this one." Gaiman has tried to write the only book anyone will need, ever, packing into it every adventure story written in the past 300 years. The book seems to include every plot on TVTropes.org. There's a time machine. There are "wumpires" and pirates. The story is simple: A father goes to the store to buy milk. The only trouble is, he's kidnapped by aliens, and by the end of the book, he's being threatened by dancing dwarfs. Sometimes the book feels like a personal bet between the writer and the illustrator: "But can you draw this?" Young is always up to the challenge, no matter what gets thrown at him. He makes pirates look both dangerous and adorable. But once in a while, readers may wish that the author would stop throwing things. The best scene in the book is brief and quiet. The father asks a time-traveling stegosaurus where all the dinosaurs went. "The stars," professor Steg says. "That is where we will have gone." Frenetic as the story is, it's hard not to love a novel that borrows equally from Calvin and Hobbes and The Usual Suspects. If you read only one book this year, a story with dancing dwarfs is always a wise choice. (Adventure. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062224088
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/30/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 108,214
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books for readers of all ages, and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the Locus Award for Best Novelette for his story "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains." Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Skottie Young is an award-winning cartoonist and writer who illustrates New York Times bestselling adaptations of L. Frank Baum's Oz novels for Marvel Entertainment. His unique art style and sensibilities have drawn acclaim worldwide, earning him multiple Eisner Awards. He has worked in comics, toys, and animation for Marvel, Warner Bros., Image Comics, Mattel, Cartoon Network, and many more. Skottie lives in Illinois.

Biography

Neil Gaiman thought he wrote comic books. But a newspaper editor, of course, set him straight.

Back when he was riding the diabolical headwinds of his popular series of graphic novels, The Sandman, the author attended a party where he introduced himself as a comic-book writer to a newspaper's literary editor. But when the editor quickly realized who this actually was -- and the glaze melted from his eyes -- he offered Gaiman a correction tinged with astonishment: "My God, man, you don't write comics, you write graphic novels." Relating the story to theLos Angeles Times in 1995, Gaiman said, "I suddenly felt like someone who had been informed that she wasn't a hooker, that in fact she was a lady of the evening."

Gaiman's done much more, of course, than simply write graphic novels, having coauthored, with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, a comic novel about the Apocalypse; adapted into hardcover the BBC miniseries Neverwhere about the dark underworld beneath the streets of London; and, inspired by his young daughter, put a horrifying spin on C.S. Lewis' wardrobe doors for Coraline, a children's book about a passageway into a magical, yet malevolent, land.

But it is The Sandman that is Gaiman's magnum opus.

Though he had told a career counselor in high school that he wanted to pen comic books, he had a career as a freelance journalist before his first graphic novel, Violent Cases, was published in England in 1987. DC Comics discovered him and The Sandman was born. Or reborn, actually. The comic debuted back in 1939 with a regular-Joe crime fighter in the lead. But in Gaiman's hands the tale had a more otherworldly spin, slowing introducing readers to the seven siblings Endless: Dream, Death, Desire, Destiny, Destruction, Despair and Delirium (once Delight). They all have their roles in shaping the fates of man. In fact, when Death was imprisoned for decades, the results were devastating. Richard Nixon reached The White House and Michael Jackson the Billboard charts.

Direction from newspaper editors notwithstanding, to Gaiman, these stories are still comic books. The man who shuttled back and forth between comics and classics in his formative years and can pepper his writing with references to Norse mythology as well as the vaudevillian rock group Queen, never cottoned to such highbrow/lowbrow distinctions. Comparing notes on a yachting excursion with members of the Irish rock band U2, the writer who looks like a rock star and Delirium and the rock stars who gave themselves comic-worthy names such as Bono and The Edge came to a realization: Whether the medium is pop music or comic books, not being taken seriously can be a plus. "It's safer to be in the gutter," he told The Washington Post in 1995.

In 1995, Gaiman brought The Sandman to a close and began spending more time on his nongraphic fiction, including a couple of short-story collections. A few years later he released Stardust, an adult fairy tale that has young Tristan Thorn searching for a fallen star to woo the lovely but cold Victoria Forester. In 2001, he placed an ex-con named Shadow in the middle of a war between the ancient and modern dieties in American Gods. Coming in October 2002 is another departure: an audio recording of Two Plays for Voices, which stars Bebe Neuwirth as a wise queen doing battle with a bloodthirsty child and Brian Dennehy as the Angel of Vengeance investigating the first crime in history in heaven's City of Angels.

Gaiman need not worry about defining his artistic relevance, since so many other seem to do it for him. Stephen King, Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison are among those who have contributed introductions to his works. William Gibson, the man who coined the term "cyberspace," called him a "a writer of rare perception and endless imagination" as well as "an American treasure." (Even though he's, technically, a British treasure transplanted to the American Midwest.) Even Norman Mailer has weighed in: "Along with all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it's about time."

The gushiest praise, however, may come from Frank McConnell, who barely contained himself in the pages of the political and artistic journal Commonweal. Saying Gaiman "may just be the most gifted and important storyteller in English," McConnell crowned Sandman as the most important act of fiction of the day. "And that, not just because of the brilliance and intricacy of its storytelling -- and I know few stories, outside the best of Joyce, Faulkner, and Pynchon, that are more intricate," he wrote in October 1995, " but also because it tells its wonderful and humanizing tale in a medium, comic books, still largely considered demimonde by the tenured zombies of the academic establishment."

"If Sandman is a 'comic,'" he concluded, "then The Magic Flute is a 'musical' and A Midsummer Night's Dream is a skit. Read the damn thing: it's important."

Good To Know

Some fascinating factoids from our interview with Gaiman:

"One of the most enjoyable bits of writing Sandman was getting authors whose work I love to write the introductions for the collected graphic novels -- people like Steve Erickson, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Mikal Gilmore, and Samuel R. Delany."

"I have a big old Addams Family house, with -- in the summertime -- a vegetable garden, and I love growing exotic pumpkins. As a boy in England I used to dream about Ray Bradbury Hallowe'ens, and am thrilled that I get them these days. Unless I'm on the road signing people's books, of course."

"According to my daughters, my most irritating habit is asking for cups of tea."

"I love radio -- and love the availability of things like the Jack Benny radio shows in MP3 format. I'm addicted to BBC radio 7, and keep buying boxed CD sets of old UK radio programs, things like Round the Horne and Hancock's Half Hour. Every now and again I'll write a radio play."

"I love thunderstorms, old houses, and dreams."

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 10, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portchester, England
    1. Education:
      Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
    2. Website:

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