The Best Children’s Book About Climate Change Was Written 40 Years Ago

Like many good children’s books, Cloudy With Meatballs tackles adult anxieties

Photo: Getty Images
The author’s well-loved $1 copy

Before the pandemic, the existential crisis was climate change.

So you know where this is going, it’s going to hell. The climate shifts and starts delivering too much food of the wrong kind at the wrong times, wreaking vivid destruction on Chewandswallow: a flood of spaghetti, a stinky Gorgonzola snow, a pea soup fog. Following the satisfying logic of children’s books, things go increasingly out of control. A pancake too large to be moved by cargo helicopters falls on the school and closes it. Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches pile up waist-deep. A tomato tornado, satisfyingly thick and tangible on the page, carries off part of the town.

Freelance writer/editor in Chicago. Words in Marker, The Atlantic, COVID Tracking Project, elsewhere. Author of ‘Chicago: From Vision to Metropolis.’

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