feasting on judi barrett’s cloudy with a chance of meatballs 3: planet of the pies

Sometimes when people really like something they’ll say: I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Could be heaven and Mars are the same place. As long as there’s pie!

I’m convinced Judi Barrett wrote the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book just for me. A story about edible precipitation, with mashed potato snow, hamburger storms and SOUP rain (forcryingoutloud) has my name written all over it, does it not? My toes still tingle when I read about the giant pancake that covered the school, and how the residents of ChewandSwallow set sail on rafts made from giant pieces of stale bread (holy peanut butter).

And then, some 19 years later, Ms. Barrett gifted me with Pickles to Pittsburgh. I swooned over the giant airlifted hot dogs and tuna fish sandwiches and a charitable world where “there is always enough food for everyone.”

Fast forward another 16 years, when the inimitable and perpetually hungry Ms. Barrett (no doubt having heard of my “eternal quest for pie”), has just published Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3: Planet of the Pies (Atheneum, 2013)!!

Just seeing the “Planet of the Pies” subtitle made me swoon. Would I be able to stay calm long enough to read the story?

This time, Henry, Kate and Grandpa are all atwitter to hear that astronauts have landed on Mars, only to discover a “thick, glutinous substance . . . both on the ground and falling from the sky.”

Could it be pie filling?

Oh, man, why not? If only pies could fall from the sky on earth! What would Martian pies taste like, anyway?

All art © 2013 Isidre Monés

As in the first two books, we have a story-within-a-story. Grandpa drifts off to sleep in front of the telly and dreams he’s Mission Commander of the Mars expedition.

Amidst pies pies pies falling and glopping everywhere (tasty, though), he meets some friendly umbrella-toting Martians who’d apparently been waiting years for him to come. They take Grandpa and his fellow astronauts on a tour, feed them dinner, and explain their “pie problem.”

Apparently, even when it comes to pies, there is the possibility (however remote) of getting too much of a good thing (gasp!). The Martians don’t like stepping in pie and having their cars get stuck in it. Despite eating their fill, building “walls, houses, mountains, and sculptures with it,” they can’t keep up with the glutinous glut.

What to do?

Grandpa suggests they catch the pies with a big net, box them, and sell them. (Aha! Add culinary capitalism to the recipe.) So pies are shipped everywhere, everywhere on Earth. That should do it, right?

Awakened from this delectable dream, Grandpa hears on the news the next morning that the glutinous substance the news reporter speculated was pie filling is actually thick Martian rain. Really? When Kate and Henry see the astronauts’ picture in the newspaper, one of them looks suspiciously like Grandpa. Hmmmm. Later that evening, they eat pie for dessert. Despite the “Martian Pie” carton on the table, Grandpa claims to have baked the pie himself. 🙂

Cloudy fans will revel in Ms. Barrett’s trademark over-the-stovetop imagination at work yet again. Aren’t pies in the sky every foodie lover’s dream come true? And finally we see what those elusive Martians have been eating all this time!

Barcelona-based artist Isidre Monés has done a marvelous job of approximating Ron Barrett’s art in the first two books with a pieful eyeful of energetic pen, ink and watercolor illos (real world in black and white, dream sequence in color).

There’s plenty of visual humor and ooey gooey detail (even a meatball tucked in for good measure) to satisfy ravenous Cloudy lovers who’ve been craving a third helping of the series. Anyway you slice it, pies, luscious lip-smacking pies, are out of this world. I just hope readers remember to save their forks (umbrellas remain optional).

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written by Judi Barrett
illustrated by Isidre Monés
published by Atheneum BFYR/S&S, 2013
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: humor, food, space, grandparents, family, astronauts, weather

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Ever wonder what Grandpa cooks besides pie and Saturday morning pancakes? If you missed my review of the new Grandpa’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Cookbook, click here.


“Let’s cook up a storm!”
~ Love ‘n hugs,


*Spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2013 Judi Barrett, illustrations © 2013 Isidre Monés, published by Atheneum BFYR. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “feasting on judi barrett’s cloudy with a chance of meatballs 3: planet of the pies

  1. First, I don’t know the Pickles to Pittsburgh, thanks! This latest looks terrific, and I love the idea of the black & white versus color, real + fantastic. Along with the cookbook, would make a wonderful gift for some lucky person, NOT just a child! Fun to see all the pictures, Jama!


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