As a child growing up in the early 1980s, I loved the picture book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and its goofy—but oddly realistic—illustrations of such meteorological events as the floods of orange juice and storms of hamburgers that engulfed the town of Chewandswallow. (My father, who read the book aloud to my brother and me many hundreds of times, was less fond of it, which may explain why I never saw the sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh, until I was an adult.) So I was excited to find out that Sony Pictures Animation has done a movie adaptation of this classic book by husband-and-wife team Judi and Ron Barrett, although its distinctive illustrations have been replaced Pixar-style animation. The movie, which will be released in the U.S. on September 18, includes the voices of such talented and funny actors as Lauren Graham, Neil Patrick Harris, and Bruce Campbell.
Those of us who miss Ron Barrett’s illustrations can see more of them in the Barretts’ newest book, The Marshmallow Incident. This book tells the tale of the towns of Left and Right, and how they are brought together by a marshmallow war that looks more like a blizzard than a military campaign. With its detailed drawings of the two towns and their curious establishments (“Lefty’s: We Proudly Serve Leftovers”), The Marshmallow Incident is a delightful story about how the towns of Left and Right learned right from wrong.