Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman; Illustrated by Skottie Young

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

How far would you go to make sure you had milk in your refrigerator? Might you outsmart a spaceship full of aliens looking to remodel your planet? Would you dare face off against bloodthirsty pirates? How about climbing into a time-traveling hot air balloon invented by a genius stegosaurus? Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman has these things and so much more. 

It all starts with the lack of milk in the refrigerator. There is nothing to pour on their cereal or tea. Mayonnaise or pickle juice just will not do the trick. So Father sets out to buy a new bottle, taking an eternity to return. Thankfully, when he comes back—with the milk I might add, he has a story of why he took so long. What a story.

"I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road. 'Hullo,' I said to myself. 'That's not something you see every day.'"

Father's cool reaction toward his encounters helps ground the insane yarn that unravels and supplies much of the humor. Eventually he meets up with Professor Steg, a dinosaur inventor who insists that a hot air balloon is actually "Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier." Professor Steg is millions of years in the future, while father has mysteriously slipped into the past.

They must try to find a way back to our present, but they might just face off against some ancient human sacrificers, some linguistically crippled vampires, and ponies (the sister wanted the story to have some ponies). And as always, the milk must remain protected.

Gaiman's quickly paced and funny tale almost works as a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for elementary school students. The illustrations by Skottie Young help visualize the sheer madness of the story, especially when a group of police officer dinosaurs show up.

I can see Fortunately, The Milk emerging from Gaiman's head as easily as it does from the father in the story. This really is one of those "Everything but the kitchen sink" situations, but doggone it, he might have slipped in one of those, too.