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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Module 1 – Introduction to Children’s Literature/Classic Children’s Literature/SLIS 5420


Barret, Judi.  (1978). Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. (R. Barrett, Illus.) New York, New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


I read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for Module 1 as well. This book is a great story that is told by a grandfather to his grandkids as a bedtime story.  It’s about a town called Chewandswallow where all the food is provided by the weather.  Every day the citizens go outside to get their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  They save leftovers for snacks.  In the mornings, it generally rains sunny side up eggs, toast,  juice, and milk plus some jam and butter.  Unfortunately, the weather eventually gets out of hand and the people actually have to flee the town on rafts made of stale bread and peanut butter. It’s a hilarious story, and the drawings (by Ron Barrett) are unique and very fun.  The drawings are very detailed, and the reader gets more from the story by taking time to analyze each picture for fun details like baked potatoes with butter littering the ground, a man squashed by a giant hamburger, and clothespins on noses due to Gorgonzola cheese rain.


I’m thinking about using this book for my story time.  The only thing holding me back is the fact that a movie was made recently (I didn’t see it).  Many of the children might have seen it, so I’m hesitating.  However, I’m thinking that they might still enjoy it since it’s a much shorter version of what happens in the movie.  I think the book is just very fun, and the pictures are great.  Maybe it’s about how having too much can be a curse instead of a blessing, I don’t know.  I like the way it’s told as a grandfather’s bedtime story and there’s a hint that grandpa is a survivor of the ordeal.  Maybe it’s about how it’s much better to work for what you have so that you have to make choices, instead of just being reliant on whatever comes from the sky.  At any rate, it’s truly entertaining and I think kids enjoy the humor.

Listed as #33 on the 100 Best Picture Books Poll


#33: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett (1978)
46 points (#9, #2, #1, #8, #3, #3, #5)

Aside from The Giant Jam Sandwich there’s really only one other iconic gigantic food book that comes immediately to mind.  I rediscovered this book in my old age, and was delighted to find that it really does stand up to scrutiny.  Sadly, I found that it is not the best readaloud for large groups, but in spite of that it’s a fine tale of the best and worst aspects of sky-related foodstuffs.

The publisher description of the plot reads, “The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it never rained rain and it never snowed snow and it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed things like mashed potatoes. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers. Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger and so did the portions. Chewandswallow was plagues by damaging floods and storms of huge food. The town was a mess and the people feared for their lives. Something had to be done, and in a hurry.”

Think it’s all fun and games?  Think again.  Bottom Shelf Books revealed what is undoubtedly the strangest picture in the book.  One that I’m pretty sure most of us have missed for years.  Mind you, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for it.

Of course Cloudy was not without its sequel.  I don’t know many people who would claim to know Pickles to Pittsburgh particularly well.  Except possibly the Pittsburgh librarians out there.  So let’s hear it, Pittsburghians.  Do you know this book?  Do you read it regularly?  Cause as far as I can determine it is the ONLY picture book out there with the word “Pittsburgh” loud and proud on its cover (please prove me wrong, somebody).

Now in its 27th year the book is being turned into a major motion picture.  And while you may disagree with the liberties taken with the plot, you can’t deny that this trailer certainly taps into the human desire for building-tall jello.

Bird, Elizabeth.  (2009, May 16).  Top 100 Picutre Books Poll Results (Weblog). Retrieved from

Here’s the link to the “strange picture” in case you’re interested…


About mary's summer bookshelf

I'm studying to be a librarian at the University of North Texas and loving it. This blog is a class project and the first one I've ever written. The world of children's literature is diverse and rich. This class is opening up many worlds for me to traverse - I am a total YA fan now.

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