An innocuous errand—delivering an umbrella to his grandmother—turns into a riotous adventure for Milo, a monkey pictured wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers. Vibrant watercolors by two-time Kate Greenaway Medal–winner Foreman playfully portray Milo's outlandish reversals of fortune, beginning with a raincloud darkening a sunny sky: "Fortunately, he had Granny's umbrella... Unfortunately, he didn't look where he was going." Milo steps off a cliff and falls into the mouth of a whale, which precipitates a chain of events that brings him face-to-face with unfriendly pirates, wild dinosaurs, and two species of aliens. The rainbow-colored umbrella repeatedly comes to his rescue, serving as a parachute, boat, and sword. It appears life will return to normal when Milo finally arrives at Granny's house, but what spills out of the umbrella suggests otherwise. The repeated use of the two title words—perhaps an homage to Remy Charlip's 1964 picture book Fortunately, which used the same two words the same way—creates a seesaw effect that encourages chiming in, and the jaunty art adds laughs. Ages 4–9. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The task for Milo, a young, casually dressed, soccer-playing monkey, is simple: to return to his grandmother the umbrella she has left behind. His subsequent adventures are an amusing balance of "Fortunately" and "Unfortunately." The good side of nice weather is soon balanced by a rain shower. Milo's fall, fortunately aided by the umbrella, unfortunately lands him inside a whale. Good balances bad as he encounters there a wonderful pirate ship, but an unfriendly captain. Another unfortunate event is the gunpowder explosion that lifts Milo into a hurricane and onto an island of dinosaurs. From there he has a mixed encounter with huge aliens. All finally leads to a seemingly happy ending, but... Foreman's watercolors create an engaging cast of characters, including the pirate captain with eye patch and hook, the huge whale, and particularly the bulbous aliens with single eyes and flying saucers. The brief text is set in curves that enhance the wild actions. Small details like Milo's mother's roller skates and an audience of rabbits add to the humorous pleasure. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Answering the longstanding need for an alternative to Remy Charlip's classic but now-creaky Fortunately (1964), Foreman reworks the titular dichotomy into a young chimp's adventuresome delivery of an umbrella to his grandma's house. "Fortunately, it was a lovely day and Milo liked going to Granny's house because she always had cake... / Unfortunately, a dark cloud appeared and it soon began to rain... / Fortunately, he had Granny's umbrella..." That umbrella shows great utility not only in the sudden rainstorm, but when there's a pirate captain and a set of giant hostile aliens to poke on the way past an erupting volcano, dinosaurs and other hazards—all depicted with luminous watercolors in big, comical scenes. There's so much action that monotony is never really a danger, which renders occasional breaks in the titular pattern unnecessary (" 'Please don't pop us! Please don't pop us!' squeaked the huge aliens"). Still, it's a fresh and welcome alternative to a perennial crowd pleaser that has become a period piece. (Picture book. 5-8)
From the Publisher
"Michael Foreman has a flair for turning a book into a special occasion."
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—A boylike monkey (or monkeylike boy?) is given a task by his mother. "Granny has left her umbrella here. Can you take it to her house, please?" So begins Milo's great adventure filled with setbacks and serendipity. The journey begins innocently enough. "Fortunately, it was a lovely day... Unfortunately a dark cloud appeared....Fortunately, he had Granny's umbrella...." But soon Milo finds himself fighting off unfriendly pirates inside the belly of a whale, standing face-to-face with wild dinosaurs inside a volcano, and being captured by aliens. At last he arrives at Grandma's house with her umbrella looking a little the worse for wear, but filled with pirate treasure. Unfortunately, the pirates have tracked Milo down, and readers are left to imagine what further adventures might ensue. Foreman's narrative carries the "fortunately, unfortunately" trope throughout. With only one or two sentences per page, listeners will easily follow the unfolding story line. Such a convoluted chain of events could easily be weighed down by visually cluttered illustrations, but Foreman employs a light touch with his bright watercolors, and the eye follows exactly where it needs to go. Regrettably, Milo himself is rendered in a slightly different style on every page, and the effect is mildly off-putting. Still, those adventure-minded youngsters who pine for a life with more pirates, dinosaurs, and aliens will appreciate this work, though teachers introducing the "fortunately, unfortunately" style in writing assignments may wish to stick with Remy Charlip's classic, Fortunately (Scholastic, 1964). Purchase as a supplement to larger collections.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI