Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (book).jpg
AuthorJudi Barrett
IllustratorRon Barrett
CountryUnited States
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
September 14, 1978
Followed byPickles to Pittsburgh 

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a children's book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. It was first published in 1978 by the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum Books, followed by a 1982 trade paperback edition from sister company Aladdin Paperbacks.[1] Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[2] It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.[3]

A sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh, was published in 2000 by Atheneum Books; a hardcover edition followed in 2009. A second sequel, Planet of the Pies, was published on August 27, 2013.[4]


The book details a bedtime story narrated by a grandfather to his grandchildren, chronicling the daily lives of the citizens of an imaginary town called Chewandswallow, which is characterized by its strange daily meteorological pattern.

With a population of about 300, Chewandswallow was a typical, very small town, which included a movie theater, a school-house, and other typical businesses. However, the town was completely devoid of shopping malls and food stores, as they were totally unneeded. The sky provided the townsfolk with all of their required daily meals by raining (or in some cases, snowing) food. Unlike typical weather, the weather of Chewandswallow always came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime. The only things that didn't rain was actually rain, and snow, actual snow. Instead, it rained things like soup and juice, and snowed mashed potatoes and green peas. Whenever storms blew in, they were usually constructed of foods such as hamburgers.

Despite not containing shopping malls and supermarkets to get food, Chewandswallow did contain restaurants: roofless restaurants, where customers essentially serve themselves the food that falls from the sky and into the roofless building (while the book never points it out, this essentially renders the restaurants totally useless). The town was also up-kept by The Sanitation Department of Chewandswallow, a public clean-up service responsible for cleaning up all the leftover food from the day's weather. The leftover food was used to feed stray pets, as well as sea creatures (including cetaceans and sea turtles), and wild-life on land. Some was also buried to rich-up the soil. With the devoid of any supermarkets and shopping malls, this for the residents of Chewandswallow was a much better arrangement.

However, life for the townspeople of Chewandswallow was delicious. But then, after a couple of millenniums passed, the food in the weather gradually (but unexpectedly) took the residents of the town a turn for the worse. When it took a turn for the worse, the people were not as happy about it as they thought. One day, there was nothing but Gorgonzola cheese. The next day, there was only broccoli all overcooked. The day after that, there were only Brussels sprouts, peanut butter, and mayonnaise disgusting the kids at the birthday party (this required a birthday party to always assemble a disgusting looking birthday "cake" made out of nothing but those gross ingredients). The next day, there was a pea soup fog which practically destroys all possible visibility up to an incredibly short distance.

But this was only the beginning for Chewandswallow's disaster. Storms of not only unpleasant, but also dangerously oversized food, began to devastate the community. One day, there were so many bread and rolls that it took the Sanitation Department an entire four years to clean up (resulting in the workers just piling it somewhere, leaving it to get more and more stale). The next morning after that, there was a storm of pancakes (followed with a downpour of maple syrup for the pancakes that flooded the town). A giant pancake covered the school. After all attempts failed to get it off because of its weight, the school was closed forever. Then lunch one day brought 50 (or 60) inch drifts of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. The children (who were eating these sandwiches for lunch) ate themselves sick and the day for them ended with a stomachache. Finally, the worst disaster in Chewandswallow history erupted when a giant tomato tornado devastated numerous houses, buildings, and roads. People sneezed themselves silly (likely due to an awful salt and pepper storm that was accompanied by the tornado) and running to avoid the tomatoes.

At last, cleanup for the sanitation department service became too infeasible. Therefore, as the job was too big, the service gave up and shut down operations forever. The entire Sanitation Department of Chewandswallow was permanently discontinued in the town (not only their service; but also their merchandise and locations). Due to the service ceasing operations, this left the residents of Chewandswallow to suffer the devastating food. People feared for their lives, as giant pieces of food hailed down on Chewandswallow, destroying homes and businesses. Stores are boarded up, and there was no longer any more school for the children (due to the schools being closed for good).

Finally, the residents of Chewandswallow decided to permanently abandon the town. It was a matter of survival. They decide to relocate to a different community with normal, non-edible meteorological patterns. The people of Chewandswallow built giant boats; made out of a stale bread sandwich style, glued together with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. This turned their "sandwich boat" into a giant peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich. They then set sail and off to a new, permanent land.

Now safe from the hazards presented by the raining meals, the townsfolk settle into their new home (which the book never mentioned by name). Though life is now much more peaceful, now that nobody fears of getting hit by a hamburger again, the townsfolk are forced to the new weather, which only rains rain and snows snow. The place to get food from is a store and not the sky (including malls and grocery stores). Food often has to be cooked prior to serving (as opposed to any meats which came down "pre-cooked" back at Chewandswallow). Everyone lives happily ever after. Nobody ever got hit by a hamburger again nor ever again dared to go back to Chewandswallow to find out what happened to it. They were too afraid.

Now cutting back to the grandchildren, as the grandfather finishes the bedtime story, the granddaughter, in first-person narration, then mentions that she and Henry were still awake; awake until the very end of Grandpa's story.

The following morning, the grandfather's grandchildren awaken to discover snowfall. After bundling up and hurrying outside to play, the granddaughter describes how the sun looks like a pat of butter and the snow like mashed potatoes. She imagines that the sun (as butter) and the snow (as mashed potatoes) is like the food in the weather at Chewandswallow from the story that Grandpa had told her and Henry the night before. Because it looks like that, she and Henry could almost smell mashed potatoes.


The follow up to the story, Pickles to Pittsburgh, tells of the kids receiving a postcard from their grandfather, who claims to be visiting the ruins of what was once the fabled town of Chewandswallow. The kids then go to sleep and dream that they are there with him, helping to rebuild the post-apocalyptic landscape and restore it to where it is livable again, as well as giving the massive amounts of food away to poverty-stricken developing nations and homeless shelters around the world. This proves to be difficult, as there could be more food storms on the way.

A third book in the series, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3: Planet of the Pies, was released on August 27, 2013. It details a dream Grandpa had about the first manned expedition to Mars, where Martian society is being overrun by daily storms of pies.

Film adaptations[edit]

On September 18, 2009, Sony Pictures Animation released an animated film adaptation of the book, and the DVD was released on January 5, 2010. A new cast of characters were created for plot development, while the synopsis was changed from food falling from skies from meteorology to being made from a machine. Bill Hader and Anna Faris provided the voices of the two lead characters. Hader voices Flint Lockwood, "a young inventor who dreams of creating something that will improve everyone's life." Faris provides the voice for Samantha "Sam" Sparks, "a weathergirl covering the caution who hides her intelligence behind a perky exterior." James Caan, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Benjamin Bratt, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, and Will Forte are also on the voice cast.[5] Co-writers and co-directors Philip Lord and Chris Miller said that it would be a homage to, and a parody of, disaster movies such as Twister, Armageddon, The Core, and The Day After Tomorrow.[6]

Unlike the book where a grandfather tells his two grandchildren a bedtime story about Chewandswallow, an inventor named Flint Lockwood, who lives in Swallow Falls (Chewandswallow's original name before the food weather), invents a machine that turns the water vapor in the atmosphere into food. Originally the phenomenon was limited to Swallow Falls, but overuse of the machine causes it to malfunction and the food weather taking a turn for the worse, as well as spreading it across the world. A sequel to the film, titled Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, was released on September 27, 2013, however, it is based on an original idea, and not Pickles to Pittsburgh.


In conjunction with the September 18, 2009 film release, Ubisoft released a game for Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii, and Xbox 360,[7][8] as well as a stereoscopic online mini game.[9]