Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cloudy with a Chance of Toasted Rav Celebrates St. Louis Food Culture

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 7:00 AM

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If you've ever pondered the wacky weather in the children's classic Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and thought, "What this book needs is more St. Louis," Ryan Nusbickel has just the book for you.

The local author/illustrator behind Who Moved My Gooey Butter Cake? and The St. Louis Night Before Christmas has a new book hitting local retailers this month — Cloudy, with a Chance of Toasted Rav. Only in this book, instead of the pea soup and mashed potatoes that blanketed the fictional town of Chewandswallow, Nusbickel is treating St. Louis with an ice rink of frozen custard and storms of ranch dressing. Visiting Cubs fans, however, come in for the worst treatment — they get hit with slingers.

Nusbickel, a former TV news reporter, says part of the fun of this new book was the chance to spoof Midwest storm coverage. The challenge, he says, 
is "finding new nooks and crannies of St Louis culture and humor to keep the material fresh. For instance, Toasted Rav introduces new themes (for me), like MoDot storm response, the city/county divorce, and more obscure local fare, such as St Paul Sandwiches."

Of Nusbickel's books, this one is his favorite — perhaps because it's the first he wrote with an in-home focus group (daughter Genevieve is three; Caroline is one). 

"I think being a dad has helped me sharpen my story-telling skills. In turn, the girls are exceptional editors," he explains. "Cartoons they approve get anointed with milk. Rejected cartoons are fed to our dog, Easy. Or is it the other way around?!"

You can pick up Cloudy, with a Chance of Toasted Rav at booksellers across St. Louis, including the Novel Neighbor and Left Bank Books. See Nusbickel's website for more details.

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We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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