By Brendan Anderson, AmeriCorps member serving with the Staples, Inc. team with Curley K-8 School
In Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk, one brave father travels through space, time, and the grocery story in order to bring home milk for his children’s breakfast cereal. It is a story packed with perilous pirates, green globby aliens, and very pale, toothy wumpires who struggle to pronounce the letter V. More than that, the students from my 3rd grade class highly recommend it; one even said, “It’s the best book I’ve ever read,” while another (who ordinarily struggles to get excited about reading) eagerly sits at attention whenever I read to the class. This book can hold almost any elementary school student spellbound by spinning a story that is as far-reaching and silly as our students’ imaginations.
The book is told from the perspective of a son listening to his father explain why it took so long to return from the grocery store, meaning students can immediately relate to the book’s narrator even before the father starts talking about being kidnapped by aliens, escaping from pirates, and flying through time with a stegosaurus. In fact, that meandering plot is very similar to the way third graders (including myself once upon a time) write their own stories, but told in a way that will keep readers of all ages laughing until the final page ties together all loose ends. Actually, my happiest moment while reading was when the third graders realized they could laugh at a book about snot-like aliens. Fortunately, the Milk will inspire aspiring writers, frustrated readers, and corpsmembers alike, as well as everyone in between.