Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell, reviewed by Philip Ardagh
… is incredibly slight. Of course it’s funny and inventive – this is Gaiman we’re talking about – but without the extremely generous number of detailed illustrations, Fortunately, the Milk would be a mighty thin book and the story thinner still. This is a fun conceit which Chris Riddell has fleshed out and done his darnedest to buff to a shine. The eagle-eyed reader will spot that many toys, books and pictures around the house have miraculously become part of Dad’s explanation for being late, in much the way that Kevin Spacey’s character spins a yarn using elements of what’s around him in The Usual Suspects. (Gaiman lays the seeds for this in the text by having My-Little-Pony-esque horses put in an appearance.)
Had Gaiman not been the author of this story, would it have been lavished with such illustrations and high production values? Of course not. And what of the young readers who come to the book knowing nothing of Gaiman or how he came to write it? What of the young readers who don’t know that Chris Riddell has drawn Dad to look like a younger Neil himself? For many of these, I suspect, the book won’t fully engage and satisfy as a standalone story in its own right.
Although pitched as a children’s book, this latest work doesn’t connect in the way that his previous children’s titles do, and not simply because it’s high comedy. But for dads and older, existing Gaiman fans? Fortunately, The Milk is very likely to be just their cup of tea.