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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fortunately The Milk, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young. Harper, 2013. $16.99 ages 8 and up

"I watched my dad think about this. He looked like he was going to suggest that we have something for breakfast that you do not need milk for, like sausages, but then he looked like he remembered that, without milk, he couldn't have his tea. He had his "no tea" face. "You poor children," he said. " I will walk down to the shop on the corner. I will get milk."

What a silly, silly story! Kids are sure to love it, and I think it would make a great readaloud for the first few days of school in a third or fourth grade classroom. Your students are sure to enjoy the inventive wordplay, the adventure and the crazy characters that people its pages.

Mom has gone to a conference and has given explicit instructions to Dad, to be followed while she is away. One of her reminders is about milk...there is none! When there is nothing to pour over the children's cereal, Dad suggests orange juice. He then realizes that tea without milk will be disastrous. So, he makes the ultimate sacrifice of heading off to the corner store to get some milk for everyone to enjoy.

He is gone for a long time and, when he finally gets back, he has a perfect excuse for being so late. So, begins his story:

"The odd thing was the beam of light that came out of the disc - a glittery, shimmery beam of light that was visible even in the daylight. And the next thing I knew, I was being sucked up into the disc. Fortunately, I had put the milk in my coat pocket. The deck of the disc was metal. It was as big as a playing field, or BIGGER."

His story has only just begun.  It involves everything that has happened to him in the time that he has been gone, and it involves space aliens, a stegosaurus and an air balloon, wumpires, pirates, volcanoes and time travel...back and forth, and forth and back. It is an inconceivable adventure and he regales his children with the danger, the trauma, and the fact that the milk  has actually saved the world.
Incredible? You will have to decide for yourself when you have finished reading it! The plot is nonstop action and carefully considered, the story is funny and the artwork created by Skottie Young only adds another layer of fun for the reader. Every kid has a dream of such adventure and will be a blast for all, no matter the age, the time of day, or the ability to suspend belief for the time it takes to read it together.

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