Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Judy Barrett
Illustrator:  Ronq Barrett 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 1982   ISBN: 0689707495

It's bedtime, and grandpa has a story. It's his best story ever, inspired by the morning's breakfast when he mistakenly flipped a pancake onto his grandson Henry.

The faraway town of Chewandswallow was like other towns. It had a Main Street with stores, it had houses, a schoolhouse, three hundred people, cats and dogs. What Chewandswallow didn't have, were food stores. This was okay though, for in this town the weather provided a delicious selection of food items three times a day. Soup and juice rained. Mashed potatoes and green peas snowed. Hamburgers arrived on the wind. Televised weather reports that forecasted food made planning easy. Whenever they went outside, the townspeople carried flatware and plates to catch breakfast, lunch and dinner (which was always tasty and well organized.)

As always happens in life however, things changed in Chewandswallow and the weather got bad. Food arrived haphazardly, overcooked, too large, and in strange combinations. Storms of pancakes, blinding pea fog, and brussel sprouts with peanut butter came and went. Everyone stayed indoors for sheer safety.  The townspeople did what people have always done in similar situations; they made the decision to adapt to a new way of life.

Written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by her husband Ron Barrett, more than three million copies of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs have sold since it was first published in 1978. The author's whimsical style layers rhythm, onomatopoeia, and delicious humor. The text matches perfectly with the illustrator's imaginative drawings that begin in black and white, burst into magical color, then fade again to black and white as bedtime nears. Text and illustrations flawlessly interplay what is fantastic with what is soothing. The message of living in ones imagination is clear, and this book will delight readers of all ages.