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Fortunately, the milk...
the fork of truth

The other day we ran out of milk for the breakfast cereal. So instead of going out to buy some more, like normal people, we decided to read about someone else doing it.

I actually bought Fortunately, The Milk as an xmas present for my four-year-old padawan.

Naturally, however, it is IMPERATIVE that I read all the book-presents before giving them to people. To, um, check the quality. And that there are no pages missing. Or...crumbs in the binding. Yes.

Anyway, as I was undertaking this noble endeavour, I realised that this book was in fact so good I had to share it with her right now .

You see, Fortunately, The Milk has managed to incorporate in one book pretty much all of my daughter's favourite things, including: aliens, hot-air balloons, ponies, time-travel, a talking Stegosaurus, a Pirate Queen, vampires, a volcano, and DINOSAUR SPACE POLICE.

With pictures on every page.

The Pirate Queen was a particular hit, as my young padawan has long had this formidable alter-ego and her time-travelling ship featuring nightly in her bedtime stories. (Luckily, the illustrations met with her approval. “She looks just like me!” )

Fortunately, The Milk combines nicely the familiar dangers and worries of a small child's life with funny, imaginative fantasy - and, as is often the case in real life, the kids were the smart, sceptical ones. While the first person voices were those of the big brother and the father, it was nice that there were some awesome ladies in there – and some ponies too. I loved that for most of the book we assume, along with the main character, that

[Spoiler (click to open)]

the deep-voiced Professor Steg is male and then find out otherwise.

Books for small children often either feature only male characters or are sharply divided along gender lines, so it was really nice to find something written equally to appeal to all children. It can sometimes be hard to find things for a little girl who loves pirates and dinosaurs as well as ponies and princesses, and whose current great ambition in life is to grow up to be a ninja.

I've loved Chris Riddell's illustrations since I was a kid, and Neil Gaiman's work for almost as long. (Although she's not quite old enough yet for The
Graveyard Book
, there's a signed copy just waiting. The dedication has her name written in a tiny, hand-drawn tombstone, which is equal parts awesome and creepy.)

It's great that these two have produced a book that means my kid gets to share that love too. But the biggest acheivement of all is that this is the first time my young padawan has ever sat down for forty-five minutes with one book.

This is one of those stories that is as much fun for an adult to read as for the kid being read to.

Which is lucky, because I have a feeling that I'm going to be forced to read it an awful lot in the near future...


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