A majority of people know Neil Gaiman for his novel American Gods (a television adaptation is currently in production and scheduled to air on Starz in 2017) and his Vertigo comic book series Sandman (its own film adaptation halted somewhere in the nonsensical, bureaucratic muck). Dark, philosophical, and indubitably brilliant, these works will irrefutably stand the proverbial “test of time.” Because of the brooding tones and adult themes found throughout his bibliography, it’s no wonder so many raise a brow when introduced to his 2013 children’s book Fortunately, the Milk (HarperCollins).
While Fortunately, the Milk is not Neil Gaiman’s first venture into children’s books, it is his most playful. Partnered with illustrator Skottie Young (Marvel’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Rocket Raccoon), Gaiman crafts a whimsical adventure about a father’s journey to and from the grocery store to buy his son and daughter some milk. One morning while their mother is away on business and their father is buried in his newspaper, the brother and sister duo are left to eat their cereal without any milk. However, dry cereal will simply not do. They beg their father to buy them some, but it’s not until he realizes that no milk for cereal also means no milk for his tea does he agree to their request. But when the father is gone for what they children deem to be “ages and ages,” his return is met with a barrage of questions: namely, “Where have you been all this time?”
Spinning the mundane into fantastic, this is anything but an ordinary trip to the supermarket. Between aliens, dwarves, a Volcano God, pirates, and time travel, there is no shortage of outrageous fun. Oh, and an anthropomorphic stegosaurus pilots the father’s primary source of transportation: a hot-air balloon!
This 128-page tongue-in-cheek story may be geared for children, but can be loved and appreciated by those of all ages. For those who may still be skeptical, perhaps this analogy will sway your perception: If Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and James and the Giant Peach) penned an episode of Doctor Who, it’d be very much in the same vein as Fortunately, the Milk.
Stay tuned for further installments of Ballooning in…, in which we highlight the greatest hot-air balloons found in books, television shows, movies, and more.