A Book and Movie Comparison of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
by Alexie Basil and Traci Swain
It can be so exciting to watch your favorite book come to life on the big screen…especially when that book features really, really big food falling from the sky!
After reading this week’s Dollar Deal, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, we watched the movie and had an absolute (meat)ball! Here are some of the biggest differences we noticed between the beloved picture book and the modern feature film.
1. Why is it raining food, anyway?
In the 1978 picture book, a grandfather tells his grandchildren the story of a strange town called Chewandswallow where food rains from the sky. But he never explains where this delicious weather comes from!
In the movie edition, the main character, Flint Lockwood, is a young scientist who invents a machine that can turn water into food. When he accidentally launches it into the sky, he discovers that he has the ability to make food rain from the sky on demand.
2. Wait—where are we?
If you grew up reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you know the town with quirky weather is called Chewandswallow. But in the movie, it’s called Swallow Falls!
Swallow Falls is a tiny island that’s hidden under the “A” in “Atlantic” on world maps. It’s famous for producing sardines, but when the world realizes sardines are actually gross, the economy collapses, leaving the mayor at a loss.
But then Flint makes incredible food fall from the sky—and the mayor seizes the opportunity. To generate more tourism (and money), the mayor renames the town “Chewandswallow” and launches a campaign to attract more visitors.
3. What’s your order?
What’s better than raining food? How about raining food…on demand?!
In the book, Chewandswallow residents ate whatever the weather flung their way that day. But in the movie, Flint’s special machine can order any food at all—leading to lots and lots of requests from residents. One of the sweetest is when Flint creates an ice cream blizzard for a young boy’s birthday.
4. Is it just me, or is this food getting bigger?
In both stories, the food starts increasing in size—and becomes increasingly hazardous! But the residents of both versions of Chewandswallow respond in completely different ways.
In the book, the residents pack their bags and leave Chewandswallow—and its unique weather—in the rearview mirror. In the 2009 movie version, however, Flint and the meteorologist Sam must team up to battle the growing food monster, Mr. Leftovers. After they defeat him and save the town, the residents can stay in a more normal Chewandswallow after all.
5. The final verdict?
At the end of the day, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett has been a classroom favorite ever since it was published nearly 40 years ago in 1978. It is routinely named a top book for children by teachers.
And the film version lived up to the hype! The movie was nominated for nine top-tier awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature. It was a big-time box office success and even led to a sequel, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2!
These were the comparisons that stood out to us—but we’d love to hear from you and your students! After you read the book and watch the movie, share what your class thinks and what differences you saw on social media using the hashtag #ScholasticBookClubs.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs