Soup, pasta, and Granny Torrelli's wisdom are food for the soul in this hearteningly stirring, friendship-affirming novel from Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech. A sort of culinary Camp David filled with old-world charm, Granny Torrelli's kitchen is a delicious mix of cooking, storytelling, and understanding for 12-year-old Rosie and her visually impaired best friend, Bailey. After Rosie attempts to learn Braille in order to impress Bailey, bad feelings arise, and Bailey starts to focus more attention on a new girl who's moved into the neighborhood. Knowing the recipe for good friends, Granny Torrelli brings them together to cook zuppa and pasta, gently directing the preparation as she tells stories of yesteryear about jealous friends and forgiveness -- all of which bears a striking resemblance to Rosie and Bailey's situation. By the end, Rosie and Bailey understand each other better, and -- along with their two families and the new girl -- sit down for a jubilant meal made with hard work and lots of love.
Blending all the right ingredients for young and old readers alike, Creech's novel serves up a masterful array of emotion. The author's expert use of language is remarkable, with telling actions and understated phrases yielding powerful scenes that make Creech herself ever-present. This tasty morsel of a book is sure to leave readers' appetites whetted and their spirits strengthened. Matt Warner