Readers might not know what to expect from Adam P. Knave’s latest book Stays Crunchy in Milk. The cover does a great job of invoking the General Mill’s Monster Cereals, but at the same time, the colors and design give off a cartoon-like vibe that prepares the reader for a different kind of story. Once the foundation of the story is established, however, readers will be surprised to discover a story that respectively wallows in Eighties nostalgia while maintaining a distinct and palpable emotional gravity.
Stays Crunchy in Milk follows the strawberry werewolf Wereberry, the chocolate mummy Choco-Ra and the Creature from the Fruit Lagoon, or T.C., as they set out on a journey to find their lost friend, Cherrygeist. Their quest will take them far from their home to foreign worlds that will be easily recognizable to readers raised on cereal, afternoon cartoons and Nintendo.
The premise of Stays in Crunchy in Milk could have easily deteriorated into, at worst, slapstick, or at best, another ironic treatise of pop culture, but credit has to be given to Knave for presenting the material sincerely by keeping the action moving and the emotion grounded. This isn’t merely a journey story, but a coming of age tale. Credit also goes to artist Renato Pastor, who adds a nice amount of levity to the story with his art.
It’s clear from reading the book that Knave knew where he was going and what he wanted to say with the material. It’s refreshing to read a story that’s direct in its message and presentation. In these days of excessive deconstruction and irony, it is Knave’s optimistic approach that really makes Stays in Crunchy in Milk stand out from the crowd.
Stays Crunchy in Milk is one of the year’s best literary surprises. Leave it to Knave to use a precariously silly concept involving breakfast cereal icons and turn it into an engaging love letter to all of the things that made our generation’s childhood so colorful and fun.