Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman, for MMGM

Yay for being back! I don’t realize how much I miss these posts until I have a longerish break, and then come back. I love talking middle grade books and hearing all your thoughts on the books you’re reading!

My goals this year are pretty simple, and include stuff like: eat more pumpkin pie. This because my fairy tale MG mashup will be on submission within the week (SQUEEE!!!), and my first Lily Black romantic suspense will enjoy a Bookbub ad, also this week, so I feel my life is already peddle-to-the-metal writing-wise and I need to make sure I breath and find joy in the process. And so two other (more real) goals I have this year are read even more middle grade and do more book photography on the books I read! Also maybe doodle-draw, because how is that not fun?

What are your goals–fun or serious–for the new year? I’d love to hear about them, and cheer you on!

Now, back to the subject at hand. On beginning this post, I went looking for other Neil Gaiman books I’ve spotlighted, and was horrified to find I have neglected The Graveyard Book, which I absolutely adored! No idea how that happened. However, I did spotlight Odd and the Frost Giants–which could be a fitting winter read if you’re snowed in–and you’ll find that here. Today’s spotlight is on Fortunately the Milk, which was clever, hilarious, and 100% Gaiman.

cover Fortunately the Milk

A slim little book, it has regular illustrations by the always-super-cool Skottie Young, which really enhanced the story and helped clarify this image-rich book. In fact, the clever interplay between text and words felt rather like the best balance found in graphic novels, or great picture books. I don’t recall seeing that kind of balance in a traditional middle grade before, and plan to pick up a copy of my own at some point, so I can study it. Like a good magician’s tricks, it wants to be studied.

The story itself is a bit reminiscent of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books by Laura Numeroff, which the title hints at. I also picked up on what felt like a nod to The Cat in the Hat. The story begins with Mom heading out of town, while Dad takes a distracted approaching to managing things in her absence. As a result, the family assembles for their chosen breakfast of cold cereal and tea, only to find there is no milk. However, hero dad will come through, if only the kids will be patient, and makes a quick jaunt down to the corner shop to procure milk.

Only, he isn’t so quick about it, and on his return, the brother and sister get to hear why. You see, he had very good reasons for taking so long, involving pirates, a highly advanced stegosaurus, aliens, a volcano, and saving the world from an unspeakable fate. The kids listen with some skepticism as their father’s yarn grows and morphs. It ranges and rambles and takes on crazy shapes, with the precious jug of milk nearly lost, smashed, or banished a dozen times, only to come through in a significant way in the end.

I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that the ending was very clever, and I found it highly satisfactory. I see this book being an excellent fit for family reading time in homes where parents like to spin tall tales. Ours was like that, and someday I plan to write a book with a few of the snarls which befell my children’s tooth fairy, and kept her from promptly picking up their teeth. I can also see this story working great in classrooms with a wide variety of reading levels, since it will keep the interest of the advanced readers and feel manageable to everyone. Moreover, it opens itself to a discussion of what is real, and how to tell when someone is pulling your leg. Most of all, it’s just a lot of fun! A milk and cookies kind of book. 😉

book photography Fortunately the Milk

Now, let’s see what Apricot-kitty has to say:

IMG_1001 (2)“If I had a time machine, I’d go back and bash on the head anyone who threatened that jug of milk. Partly because they were often idiots, but more because they endangered the precious deliciousness that is milk. Unpardonable, I tell you!”





Remind me not to let my cat get her hand’s on a time machine, or you know, assist her in any evil over-lord tendencies, okay? Also, maybe we should cut back on the milk I occasionally slip her. Just to be safe.

For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday spotlights, reviews, interviews and giveaways stop by the blog of our fabulous new permanent host, Greg Pattridge! And many thanks, again, to Greg, for carrying on the hosting torch from Shannon. 🙂


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