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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance Of MeatballsCloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
written by Judi Barrett
illustrations by Ron Barrett
(first published in 1978 by the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum Books)
Ages 4-8

A couple of months ago, we read Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Both Ana and I found ourselves on the fence about this book while D seemed more favorable towards the presentation than us. The lengthy rambling text and bland illustrations were probably the reason it didn't appeal to the 4¾ year old, but, I am still trying to put a finger on why I can't seem to like it...

It's a creative story designed for incorporating funny elements: imagine food raining down from the sky so people just have to hold out their plates and cups to have a meal. That's what happens in Chewandswallow land.

The book opens with Grandpa narrating the wondrous story of the weather changes in Chewandswallow, a little town not much unlike other little towns. Three time a day - around breakfast, lunch, dinner - the weather brings the three meals, with ever-changing menu to keep it exciting. Orange juice, toast, and scrambled eggs rain down from the sky for breakfast, hamburgers and shakes for lunch and even steak dinners at times.

But of course, things start going horribly wrong. The portions get larger and larger and the food that falls down harms more than satisfies people's need for nourishment.

The pen and ink art with old-world comic book styling was a bit distracting for Ana (and me) as she wasn't sure which panel followed next and in what order to process them. It started out simple enough and soon got a bit too verbose... besides, some of the foods therein (like hamburgers, steak and meatballs) were not too appealing to Ana as they have not been a part of her diet so far.

The story progresses, getting increasingly distressing as the people are literally attacked by the food falling from the sky. They finally decide to leave town building rafts out of huge bread slices that fall down from the sky.

I was probably over-thinking when trying to identify the allegory - perhaps the book warns us of increasing portion sizes and lack of reverence for the food that sustains our bodies; or perhaps how unsustainable our habits are that we end up trashing our dwelling - i.e., Earth - and are forced to migrate to other planets...

All in all, it is an imaginative tale, the kind we'd expect grandpa to make-up impromptu just to see the jaw-drop in his gradkids. It seems worth reading. At least to see how the kids respond to it. I would like to read it again with Oggie in a couple of years and see if he likes it and if Ana takes to it better then.

Cloudy With A Chance Of MeatballsAnd, of course, when Nana came by for Winter Holidays visit, she took us to the movie, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Just us three girls, as Ana happily noted.

I liked the back-story, the set-up, and treatment in the movie. There were elements that probably missed Ana (the attraction between the hero and the heroine, the relationship between father and son, the mayor's motives), but there was enough in there that kept her laughing and entertained.

Plus, of course, we saw the movie at The Baghdad Theater, in the Hawthorne District. D and I used to catch a show or two there on and off before the kids came along. The plush vintage interior and the casual atmosphere makes this a wonderful experience: we can order beer and pub menu - popcorn, tater tots, pizza, drinks and such - and enjoy it while watching the movie, at a reasonable price. The theater has tables and chairs, and the waitress brings our order to our table. It is fairly relaxed and kid-friendly, not too finicky about incidental noises of chewing and crunching and slurping... but, people are very respectful and don't chatter away loudly anyway.

Between munching popcorn and pizza, and sipping her lemonade, while watching this movie, I know Ana had fun. And, the movie was not much like the book - it starts off differently and begins to entertain right away. However, it took a bit of convincing initially, until the scene where food starts falling down from the sky, that the book we read and the movie we are watching are both essentially the same. Needless to say, she liked the movie treatment better. And so did I.

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3 Comments:

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I inclination not approve on it. I assume nice post. Specially the designation attracted me to read the intact story.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Dee said...

Sheela...lazy me never bothered to make sense of the book..but Chintu loves the book just because he thinks it is fascinating for broccoli and other food to fall from the sky ..so for now I am leaving it at that ;)

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Dee: nice to read what Chintu loved about the book! How's baby D? Am waiting for pictures :)

 

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