Remember the last dream you had that seemed to be completely random? One minute it makes sense: the next minute it doesn’t.
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman is a strange, dream-like story. It is a story told by a father to his children as an explanation of why he took too long to go to the store and get some milk. When he came home with the milk, the children asked why it had taken so long. The remainder of the book is a clever and ridiculous story that the father tells in order to convince his children that he had been gone for a good reason.
I really liked how throughout the story it seems to get more and more ridiculous. The father claims he met a time-traveling dinosaur in a hot air balloon, that he met his future self, and that the milk he had purchased and was carrying with him was an integral part of saving the day a few times. Of course, the story becomes stranger and stranger.
I especially loved that as the children listen to their father, they started putting the pieces together of how he had created his remarkable story because they look around the room and see evidence of dinosaurs, volcanoes, and all the strange things he’s put in his story right in the room with them. Possibly, the things in the room could explain why the father’s story got more ridiculous because he created it as he went.
Then again, maybe this crazy story really did happen to the father on his way home from the store! Is this a realistic novel or a fantasy?
Where did the father go for so long? Why didn’t he come home with the milk in a timely manner? We don’t know, but Fortunately, the Milk was an amusing book to read regardless of what really happened.
Fortunately, the Milk is a Bluestem Book Award nominee in Illinois. My son found it on the recommended reading shelf and loved it. As he tried to explain it to me, I couldn’t quite comprehend, so I had to give it a try myself. It was lots of fun.
(ETA: We also listened to it on audiobook in 2019 as a whole family and the narration was amazing! Highly recommended in that format as well.)