Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meatball vs. Meatball

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I loved how silly it was and I thought it would be so fun to live someplace where the rained food. For those of you who don't know the story, in the small town of Chewandswallow the weather rain down food three times a day. The people who lived there never had to buy food in a store but would travel around with their plates, bowls, forks, knives, and spoons to be able to catch and eat whatever came down. But one day the weather started to get a bit crazy, the portions got too big and they were not able to clean up after the food. Once houses and buildings started to be destroyed by the huge food the townspeople decided to abandon the town. They built boats out of bread and sailed to a new land.

I recently watched the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and was pleasantly surprised by the good job they did updating the story. The movie premise is that in the small town of Chewandswallow there is a young man who is an inventor. His inventions never work and on the grand opening of a new tourist attraction his latest invention (a machine that converts water into food) goes haywire and destroys the new theme park. However, later that afternoon his machine, which has been launched into the atmosphere, makes it rain hamburgers. Everyone is thrilled and a weather girl, in town to cover the theme park opening, now has a new weather phenomenon to report. At first things are fine but then the food starts to get bigger and bigger until the town has to be abandoned because it is being destroyed by giant food. Our hero is able to turn off his machine to stop worldwide food storms and is even able to find a use for another one of his "failed" inventions.

These two versions follow the same story line but are surprising different. I like in the movie version that they added in an explanation for why it was raining food and that the hero feels self-conscience about being smart and liking to invent things. I thought the movie kept all the silliness of the book while adding in some of its own. It is definitely a kid's movie though, and it did not translate as well for my husband who had it watch it with me. Now, he had never read (or did not remember reading) the book as a child, so that may have something to do with it, but he felt the movie was far too silly. I feel that the movie had just the right amounts of silliness and science to make it fun to watch for anyone who has read the book. The book is just wonderful. I know I am biased because it was one of my favorites when I was little, but it really is just a fun read. The illustrations are so amazing and there are tons of small details that make you giggle once you discover them. The word to image ratio is great for a read aloud but if you have younger listeners you can easily paraphrase the story to go with the pictures if it is getting a bit too long. I recommend the book and the movie, they both are a lot of fun about something very silly.


  1. I love your blog,Ruth!! I don't think I've ever read "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" either. I was thinking about picking up "Soulless" at Barnes and Noble along with Greg Mortenson's "Three Cup's of Tea". How was your birthday?

  2. Hey there! Great meeting you at the pourhouse :) This seems like a fun movie to watch. Thanks for the review!