Fortunately the Milk – Neil Gaiman (Ridiculously bestselling author) and Chris Riddell (Illustrator)
Young Fiction, 7+ years, UK Author
This is a partnership made in heaven, I think. A little bit like Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake – quite a lot like that, in fact. There is an energy between the story and the drawings that means the sum is more than the parts. This book is a must have for every book shelf home and school – even if your kids are big (My 15 year old chuckled his way through it in one sitting). Or they’ve left home. Or they’re a cat and a dog. Or a goldfish. Anyone who’s been a child living with adults will enjoy this book.
I loved recognising Gaiman as Dad in the illustrations, and one of the things I liked about that was that it made the story even more believable – well – perhaps authentic is a better word…
Mum has to go to a conference, and Dad is left looking after the kids. Dad can be a bit distracted at times. We know this because a) Mum checks a list of instructions with him AND leaves them pinned to the fridge b) defrosting a frozen dinner ends up a bit of a mess and it’s Indian for dinner instead and c) well, we just know. He’s the kind of Dad who can make a spoon sound new and exciting:
‘We can’t eat our cereal,’ said my sister sadly.
‘I don’t see why not,’ said my father. ‘We’ve got plenty of cereal. There’s Toastios and there’s muesli. We have bowls. We have spoons. Spoons are excellent. Sort of like forks, only not as stabby.’
‘No milk,’ I said.
‘No milk,’ said my sister.’
I’m not sure why, but as I read it, I heard Ardal O’Hanlon reading it – I’m pretty sure that’s the perfect voice for this book (although there is apparently a very good version of Neil Gaiman reading the book, which would be excellent, too.) It’s a born read aloud for parents, or in the classroom – there is plenty of room to play with funny voices, ridiculous accents, spectacular pauses, and even the odd loud, scary noise.
The story is really a riff on why Dad took so long to get the milk from the corner shop, and it is story telling at its best. Most of us have someone in the family who spins a good yarn – kissed the blarney stone, so to speak. And Dad really does tell a fantastic adventure involving flying saucers inhabited by globby snot green aliens, a professorial stegosaurus, several wumpires (or possibly vampires), and more…
Potentially a modern classic – buy or ‘borrow’ it now!
Click on the link below to see Neil Gaiman introduce the book, and watch Chris Riddell draw Professor Steg.