Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an absolute food-book classic. The town of Chewandswallow and its epic food-weather captured my imagination as a kid, and I still love it today. They even made a movie inspired by this book!
So what makes this story so captivating? Part of the draw is the language. The language mimics weather reports, with their specific style and vocabulary, but the addition of food makes this familiar language suddenly absurd. Sentences like “periods of peas and baked potatoes were followed by gradual clearing, with a wonderful Jell-O setting in the west” spark imagination, and prompt every kid to daydream about living in Chewandswallow.
Of course, as we learn, life in town isn’t all mashed potatoes and butter. The food weather gets out of hand, and the residents of the town must flee the ever-escalating meal-storms. While this turn of events seems like just another silly twist in an already silly book, the escalation of global weather disasters that we are currently experiencing seems to be mirrored in the lives of the residents of Chewandswallow. It only occurs to me now, re-reading the book as an adult, that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is more nuanced than I originally thought. The book tells the story of people driven from their homes by weather patterns–something we see all too often.
So while Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a silly story that makes every kid daydream of missing school because it got covered by a giant pancake, perhaps it is also a book that helps us empathize with people who are displaced from their homes. In this book, kids and adults alike are reminded to serve a side of compassion with their cream cheese and jelly sandwiches.