Fortunately, the Milk

When a father goes out to buy milk, he takes an inordinately long time. He returns with an explanation for his absence involving green globby aliens, pirates and dinosaurs. Is he telling the truth? Or is it a made-up adventure?

Young readers will savor the hunt for evidence to support their views in Neil Gaiman's latest middle-grade novel, which taps into themes of his previous works (Coraline; The Graveyard Book)--traveling to worlds with other beings and the threat of being held captive there. When the father returns with the milk, he has a story by way of explanation for the long delay. He heard a noise ("thummthumm") coming from a silver disc hovering above, and was sucked up into it. "Fortunately," said the father, "I had put the milk into my coat pocket." On board, green "globby" beings demand that the father hand over "ownership of the whole planet" so they can "remodel it." Instead, the father leaps out a door marked "emergency exit," despite a warning from his captors that he would let in "the space-time continuum." Throughout, Skottie Young's pen-and-ink drawings emphasize events and supplement the narrative.

Gaiman plays with the time loop in ways that will delight both science fiction enthusiasts and those who enjoy farfetched humor (at one point, the father borrows the milk from himself). Ever protective of the milk, the father's one goal is to return to his children and give them a good breakfast. His heroic efforts to thwart his enemies are all in service of that mission. And at story's end, he has the milk to prove it. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

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