Mum is leaving town to give a lecture on lizards, and Dad is in charge of the two kids. Dad’s talents include newspaper reading and tea drinking, but, unfortunately, he uses up all of the milk. In the morning, the kids have no milk for their Toastios, so Dad goes down to the corner shop to buy some. He is gone a very long time, but when he finally returns, what a story he has to tell!
It seems that he walked out of the store, milk in hand, only to be sucked up into a spaceship with green, globby aliens who insist that he sign over the rights to the Earth so that they can redecorate it. He refuses, like a proper Earthling, and heads toward a door with a “Do Not Open” sign. One of the aliens warns him that if he does, he will “let the space-time continuum in.” He opens it anyway, and as a result, he is whisked into a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy– inspired adventure in a time machine balloon, meeting pirates and dinosaurs, cannibals and sparkly ponies. Fortunately, the milk was always at hand, even playing a key role in freeing him from his enemies. In the end, not only does he provide milk for his children, but he also saves us all from inhabiting a planet covered with pink plastic flamingoes and decorative plates.
This delightful little book is too long for a bedtime story, but too short for actual chapters. Every page is filled with Skottie Young’s hilarious, scribbly pen-and-ink drawings, which convey the tone of the text perfectly. Cannibals could really scare a young child, but these cannibals are ridiculous with just an edge of menace. Readers will pore over the brilliant details.
Neil Gaiman is a prolific author and has won the Newbery Medal in the past for his middle-grade novel, The Graveyard Book. The Newbery Committee does not allow pictures to be considered when deciding on the eligibility of the work, but even on its own, the text tells a terrific story. Considered against other offerings, however, it is probably too slight to win the medal this year. That is not to say that your family will not enjoy it immensely! Imaginative kiddos from five to twelve will giggle and roll their eyes right up to the teasing conclusion. Adults, too, will enjoy this tale of a dad who will go through harrowing trials just to bring his children breakfast.
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.