Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Aladdin Paperbacks, 1978

Another of fils cadet‘s Christmas presents, this has been slightly neglected in favour of other things. Still, we found it the other day and have been reading it quite a lot recently. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, with pictures by Ron Barrett, is the book behind the film of the same name and apparently has sold over four million copies. Now, I haven’t seen the film so I don’t know how they stretched it out to feature length (even getting the Gruffalo to half an hour was pushing it), so it looks like the relationship between book and film here may be pretty tenuous, but I digress. The book was also previously entirely unknown to me but it’s been around since 1978, and in 2012 was voted one of the top 100 picture books of all time, according to Wikipedia. It certainly seems more of a fixture in the US – I’d be interested to know if any UK readers were aware of it.

If food dropped from the sky like rain, wouldn’t it be marvellous! Or would it? It could, after all, be messy. And you’d have no choice. What if you didn’t like what fell? Or what if too much came? Have you ever thought of what it might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?

After an incident with a flying pancake at breakfast one morning – fortunately the boys haven’t picked up on the idea of pancakes for breakfast, yet – Grandpa comes up with the tallest bedtime story ever. The town of Chewandswallow is like any other small town in America apart from the source of  all their food comes from the weather. This is fine for a long time – the weather forecasters can even predict the next day’s meals so the residents can go out prepared. One day, however, the weather takes a turn for the worse,  and eventually life in Chewandswallow becomes so unbearable that the people have to abandon the town and make a new life somewhere else.

It’s amusingly told and features details that will be highly appreciated by older children – the school being put out of action by a giant pancake, for example. There’s also a wealth of action and detail in the illustrations, which are very ’70s in style and colour.

I hope this one won’t go back on the shelf and be forgotten again because I think it’s one that will grow with the boys as there’s always something more to spot. Or if it does, and is, I hope that they’ll come back to it at intervals and see what they take in this time.

About forwardtranslations

I'm a freelance literary translator from German and French to English. The title of my blog comes from Mary Schmich's description of reading: it struck home with me, and seems especially apt for translated fiction. Here are some of my musings on what I'm reading, re-reading, reading to my children, and translating.
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2 Responses to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

  1. Catherine says:

    We have just borrowed this book from a friend. My daughter is still a little bit young for it but I found it quite amusing too, it’s such a way out, original idea for a story 🙂

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