Planet of the Pies: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Book 3

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Planet of the Pies: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Book 3 Book Poster Image
More absurdist fun with raining food, this time on Mars.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Silly look at space travel still shows kids what astronauts' space suits and land rovers can look like. Provides an opportunity to talk about manned space missions, the moon landing, and actual suggestions to send a mission to Mars. 

Positive Messages

Don't presume others are mean or scary just because they look different -- you may find they're friendly once you talk with them. Work with others and think creatively to solve a problem. It's helpful to know other languages so you can communicate with others in their language. (Grandpa says he took Martian in high school "instead of Spanish of French," and the aliens give his crew a book called Martian into English in Twelve Hours or Less.) 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The kids are upbeat, the aliens and friendly and hardworking, and Grandpa is open-minded, kind, generous, and a master of creative problem solving.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Judi Barrett's Planet of the Pies is the third picture book in the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs series. Like Book 2, Pickles to Pittsburgh, it's not as impressive as the series starter, but it's still a kid pleaser, with absurd situations, likeable characters (including a diverse team of astronauts), a crazy plot, and fun drawings to pore over. Space travel's always fun to contemplate, even if it means ducking pies raining down from Martian skies. 

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What's the story?

Grandpa, his nephew, Henry and his sister, Kate, the narrator, are watching TV when they see a news report about astronauts having landed on Mars, where they discover a thick, glutinous substance is falling from the skies. "Here's a crazy thought: Could it be pie filling?" the reporter asks rhetorically. The kids go off to bed, and Grandpa falls asleep in front of the TV, and has a brightly colored dream about being part of the team of Mars astronauts and dealing with the Martians' problem: pie raining down from the sky. Grandpa suggests they partner in a business venture to export the delicious pies to Earth.

Is it any good?

PLANET OF THE PIES will please fans of the series and kids who saw the movie based on the first and best of the series, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. And let's face it: Flying food is funny, and big-eared green aliens are funny. But the absurdist story is thin, and the twist at the end -- was Grandpa really on Mars? -- is a bit flimsy.

Isidre Monés' comic-style illustrations are typically wonderful, and fanciful, and it's a clever touch to have the real-world parts of the story  in black-and-white and the fantasy portion in vivid, gooey full color. 



Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about space travel. Where have astronauts gone so far? Could they ever really go to Mars?

  • How do you think this third book measures up in the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs series? Is the crazy food theme getting worn out, or would you still like another helping? 

  • How do the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs books compare with the film adaptations? Do you like it when books are turned into movies? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love outer space

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