Oh, what a delightful little ditty this book is!
Yes, I said “ditty” because for some reason as I reread this book in order to write this review I had the song lyrics Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly, Lavender green…” repeating over and over in my head for apparently no better reason than for me to use alliteration to call this book a delightful little ditty.
Any Who…lets get on with this review–ha! which not only rhymes but also is going to allow me to tie in a wonderful British TV reference in a hot second! So, you may be wondering why I am reviewing a book written in prose rather than a comic. Well:
1) Because I want to!
2) GhostAndy said I could!
I have not been shy in saying how much I love our local library–honestly my favorite place to take the kids when they just NEED to get out. Doesn’t cost me a thing, they have a ton of toys to play with in the kids sections, and I come home with an armful of books which I will never be able to finish in the allotted 3 week check out time period (but which thankfully can be renewed in an instant thanks to that little thing called the internet on that device called a smart phone). So the other month, the library had a great idea and featured Staff Picks and Miss Catriona posted about this quirky little book complete with the hashtag #targetrungoals, which you’ll understand in a bit.
Of course Neil Gaiman is a well known name in adult science fiction and comic books (Sandman anyone?) but did you know he’s written a bunch children’s books, like a serious bunch! I must admit though, I haven’t really read his work before. I think I started Stardust at some point and American Gods has been sitting on my Kindle for the better part of a decade. But this 2013 book has made me a believer and I am confident my brain is about to get inundated with Neil Gaiman.
Fortunately, the Milk is the epic tale of a dad going out to get milk for the kid’s breakfast and for his tea when he gets sidetracked a little–ya know–abducted by aliens, escaped to through the time-space continuum only to parley his way into walking the plank on a pirate ship where he is rescued by a prehistoric stegosaurus genius who has invented a Floaty-ball-person-carrier that happens to travel through space and time but is currently on the fritz because it is missing a special-green-shiny-stone.
The pair barely escape being sacrificed to a volcano, save themselves from becoming wumpire sandviches only to be trapped again by the aliens who want to remodel the Earth (complete with throw pillow mountains and plastic flamingos in place of trees) before being saved by the Dino police who have been chasing after the aliens for already remodeling 18 other planets! whew! all before breakfast! Do his kids believe his story of what took so long? Maybe, maybe not but the proof is in the pudding–he has the milk!
There’s a lot of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff in there which brings me back to my reference to the one and many Doctor Who!
Seriously, if you are at all familiar with this British classic TV show you cannot possibly read this book without invoking a Doctor Who-esque voice in your head. Not only for the craziness of the tale, which one can completely see the Doctor describing in frantic detail to his companion du jour, but also for the fact that the dad depicted in Skottie Young’s accompanying illustrations* is eerily reminiscent of several renditions of our dear Doctor (initially I was going with one of my faves #10 David Tennant but now that I look again, the scarf and crazy hair are also quite on par with GhostAndy’s beloved #4 Tom Baker).
However, the quick banter Doctor-voice in my head was clearly #11 Matt Smith, which I clearly cannot get out of my head as I continue to write crazy long run on sentences. Oh well, train-of-thought writing for ya!
This is why your kids will love this book and why you should read it to them–yes I said read it to them, as in READ IT ALOUD because in my opinion this is a book yearning and crying to be vocalized, not just by the Matt Smith in your head but ALOUD! (Not to get all momma up in here but if you have kids and you don’t read to them aloud there is sooooooo much information out there about why you should start and never stop, even when they’re teenagers, so what the heck are you waiting for?)
- It is utterly hilarious. If the description above didn’t entice you to check out the antics in this book, I implore you explore the witty banter contained within. You know what else this book reminded me of? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Envision it, Dick Van Dyke spinning his tale of Baron Bombast to his children on the beach. This time it’s from a kitchen and all for milk and it has space-time travel. What more could your kids possibly want?
- Nothing is as you’d expect in this book. Volcanos that subscribe to learned magazines, pirates that don’t know what “walking the plank” is…Gaiman takes usual lore and turns it on its head which is super fun.
- Creative use of print and fonts. Huh? really? Yes! It really adds to the visual effects and not to mention kind of acts as a guide map for reading ALOUD, outlining things to emphasize etc. There’s also this font thing, which I remember first encountering in Alice in Wonderland (the book, not the movie duh!). I don’t know what the word for it is and I exhausted my 10 minute time limit trying to find it–but its like onomatopoeia but instead of the word mimicking the sound the word mimics the action. See? Cool huh?
- The illustrations. Sketchy. Odd. Tim Burton like at times. Wonderful. Skottie Young brings the novel to life with his work and it is hard to imagine this work without the sketches filling up the pages. Read this book ALOUD to your kids, but give them plenty of time so soak up the art!
Final Grade: A
Dang it! I was gonna stop LOVING everything I read for this blog. But seriously, I was laughing to myself reading this book. And the kids loved it too! Neil, you got yourself an A in my grade book!
*FYI, Skottie Young illustrated the HarperCollins version of the book which I read, the Bloomsbury Children’s version was illustrated by Chris Riddel. While I cannot speak to the rest of the illustrations, his version of the dad that I found online is definitely closest to a contemporary version of Doctor #8, Paul McGann.