True friends: Bailey defends 12-year-old Rosie from school bullies; Rosie secretly learns to read Braille as a surprise for Bailey, who is blind. Rosie calls Bailey "my neighbor, my friend, my buddy, my pal for my whole life." But what happens when a new girl moves into the neighborhood, with her "cool frizzy black hair," flashing her "sparkly white smile, no braces or anything?" Or when another family moves in with boys their age?
In Sharon Creech's latest book, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, friendship gets tricky when others enter the mix. We watch as various sides of Rosie surface: odd Rosie, stubborn Rosie, take-charge Rosie. She's a faithful friend, but sometimes a jealous one. And that's where Granny Torrelli comes in.
Rosie's Italian grandmother is a down-home mentor for Rosie, with wisdom, life experiences and stories to help her through friendship's trials and tribulations. While making zuppa (soup) or pasta with Rosie, she shares similar experiences of when she was a girl in Italy with a best buddy named Pardo. When a beautiful new girl named Violetta threatened her relationship with Pardo, and a handsome boy named Marco moved into the neighborhood, Granny faced many of the same problems Rosie is encountering. When Granny relates how Pardo was killed in a horrible accident, Rosie learns the importance of letting your friends know how much you love them. Granny also shares a story of caring for a neighbor's sick baby, holding her and singing to her for hours. Helping the little Gattozzi baby, she says, made her feel as if her life were bigger, not so centered on herself.
Told in Rosie's sprightly, engaging voice and laced with Granny Torrelli's down-to-earth wisdom, this slight, fast-paced novel is as satisfying as a bowl of zuppa. Chris Raschka's drawings add a special spice to this story of life, family and friendship. In Granny Torrelli's Italian kitchen, Rosie learns important lessons and, by the end of her story, her world, too, seems larger. May we all have a Granny Torrelli in our lives, full of wisdom, warmth, and home cooking. Tutto va bene, Rosie. All is well. Copyright 2003 BookPage Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring
Rosie, a prickly twelve-year-old, is self-absorbed and socially awkward. What she needs is a pinch of humility and a dash of consideration when interacting with othersùqualities her granny Torrelli clearly believes will only develop when Rosie receives a heaping measure of love. Granny Torrelli gives Rosie that love, slyly delivered in the guise of making a meal. By the end, readers will proclaim: ""[cf2]Tutto va bene[cf1]""--all is well. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #6
Granny Torrelli cooks up all kinds of wonderful dishes from scratch. She's more than willing to put in the time and effort it takes to turn raw vegetables into a delicious soup; flour, salt, and eggs into perfect pasta; and various meats, a host of spices, and tomatoes into a mouth-watering sauce. She's also willing to take the time to work with her granddaughter, Rosie, a prickly twelve-year-old, self-absorbed and socially awkward. Rosie offends her best friend Bailey, who is blind, with her tendency to "do things for Bailey because he can't see, things I think are too hard for him, like cracking the eggs" and with her jealousy of the new girl in town. What Rosie needs is a pinch of humility and a dash of consideration when interacting with others, qualities Granny Torrelli clearly believes will only develop when Rosie receives a heaping measure of love, an important ingredient often forgotten by her busy parents. And Granny Torrelli gives Rosie that love, slyly delivered under the guise of making a meal. Rosie, Granny, and Bailey cut and chop and knead and stir, but they also talk and listen as Granny Torrelli shares stories of her family and her childhood, each having an indirect connection to Rosie and Bailey's now-rocky friendship. There are some inconsistencies in Rosie's narrative voice, but these do not interfere with the clear image of a needy little girl trying to grow up but unable to do so gracefully. In her previous works Creech has introduced situations where a sympathetic adult comes to the aid of an unhappy child in crisis, and fans of this theme will proclaim at story's end, as Granny Torrelli does when she serves up a perfect dish of cavatelli, "Tutto va bene" -- all is well. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2003 July #1
Soup and pasta, that is. The preparation of the two dinners forms the structure for this loose little treatment in which 12-year-old Rosie works out her changing relationship with Bailey, the proverbial boy-next-door. The reader meets Rosie and her Granny as they slice and chop, Granny's penetrating questions and stories of her youth leading narrator Rosie to reflect in short vignettes on her lifelong friendship and on her current pre-adolescent difficulties. The scenario is repeated the following week, only now Bailey himself becomes part of the cooking crew, clearly benefiting as much from Granny's well-timed pauses as Rosie. Rosie's present-tense voice is fresh and young, with an ingenuous turn of phrase. The structure mitigates significant plot development, however: readers are presented with a situation-Bailey and Rosie redefine their childhood friendship-which is resolved ever-so-neatly, thanks to Granny's remarkably parallel stories and a few pinches of garlic. Full of good humor and aromatic seasonings, this offering nevertheless may not stick to the ribs. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2004 February
Growing up is never easy but Granny offers advice to Rosie, her 12-year-old granddaughter, and Bailey, the boy next door, who has been Rosie's friend since infancy, as the children assist Granny in preparing the ingredients for soup and pasta. Drawing upon events from her own youth growing up in Italy with her best friend, Pardo, Granny shares stories of friendship and regret. When Granny left to immigrate to America, she and Pardo quarreled. They stubbornly refused to write and make up. Then Granny received word that Pardo died in an accident and she has always regretted that they did not resolve their differences. The children consider these tales as the food simmers on the stove. Rosie and Bailey are able to resolve their differences and remain best friends. Author Sharon Creech celebrates the special bonds between a child and a grandparent, best friends and comfort food. The act of chopping and mixing the necessary ingredients provides Rosie and Bailey time to contemplate their a tions and clarify their feelings. The story focuses upon the passing of wisdom from the elder generation to the youngest. By the end of the book, Rosie and Bailey have a deep appreciation for their friendship and acquire a new confidence as they face the changes in their lives. Highly Recommended. Charlotte Decker, Librarian, Children's Learning Center, Public Library of Cincinnati (Ohio) and Hamilton County © 2004 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 June #3
A warm kitchen filled with inviting aromas sets the scene for this heartfelt novel celebrating friendship and family ties. Here 12-year-old Rosie and her Italian grandmother whip up extraordinary dishes and exchange confidences. As the novel opens, Rosie broods on a fight she has had with her best friend, Bailey, who is going blind, and it soon becomes apparent that Granny Torrelli's talents aren't limited to cooking. She detects that her granddaughter is bothered by something and tells Rosie a few stories from her own childhood that resonate with Rosie's situation as the two prepare a delicious soup. Rosie then confides memories of Bailey, and the layering of experiences builds in much the same way as Creech's Fishing in the Air. Though Rosie and Granny may be generations apart, their lives have been shaped by similar situations. By the second section, "Pasta Party," Rosie and Bailey are on better terms. Creech (Walk Two Moons) once again shows her ability to crystallize characters and express their emotions through very few, carefully chosen words. Her subtle approach only enhances the novel's cumulative impact. Like comfort food, conversations between Granny and Rosie have a soothing effect, reminding readers that conflicts pass and there will always be moments when friends and family gather, peace of mind returns and, in Granny Torrelli's words, "Tutto va bene"-all is well. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 January #2
In a starred review, PW said, "A warm kitchen filled with inviting aromas sets the scene for this heartfelt novel celebrating friendship and family ties." Ages 8-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2003 August
Gr 4-7-Tastes and smells emerge along with wisdom and insight as a grandmother and grandchild reveal experiences past and present in the warmth of the kitchen. Rosie and Bailey are neighbors, born only a week apart. They are like sister and brother, only better "because I chose him and he chose me." She has always been his helper as he was born visually impaired. But now they have had a falling out. As Rosie tells Granny, Bailey is acting spiteful, all because she tried to be just like him. To be just like Bailey-her buddy, her pal-Rosie secretly learned to read Braille and unknowingly took away the special thing only he could do. When the two of them come together with Granny Torrelli in the kitchen and make cavatelli, the rift between them heals. Stories and wisdom continue as sauce and meatballs are made, helping to clarify feelings. As family and friends raise a glass of water to toast the cooks, Rosie realizes that her world is indeed bigger as is Bailey's; that tutto va bene-all is well! Twelve-year-old Rosie's narration seamlessly integrates Granny Torrelli's stories and fleeting conversations in short chapters. Her authentic voice gradually reveals what has happened and the accompanying emotions ranging from anger and angst to happiness and contentment. The integration of the Italian kitchen and Granny's family stories from the old country add flavor just like the ingredients in her recipes. This is a meal that should not be missed.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.