The Barnes & Noble Review
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
The Washington Post
… Newbery Medal-winner Sharon Creech is responsible for this recipe, and everyone knows there's hardly a more seductive writer in the business.
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.
The way Sharon Creech writes about relationships is as spicy and comforting as a good pot of soup. In her newest novel, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, she uses two tasty main ingredients. The first is twelve-year-old Rosie. Rosie is concerned about her relationship with Bailey, a visually impaired boy with whom she's been friends since they were babies. Their birthdays are only a week apart and Rosie has always felt secure and comforted by their close friendship. "I pretended he was my brother, only he was better than a brother because I chose him and he chose me." But suddenly there are changes. Bailey's responses and her own surprise, confuse, and upset Rosie. It is obvious to readers that her insecurity, envy, confusion and self-consciousness are typical feelings adolescence stirs up. Most adolescents suffer in silence, but fortunate Rosie has a solution to her problems. Rosie has always cared for Bailey, but suddenly his need for independence and self-expression results in anger and withdrawal that hurts Rosie. Her confusion brings her to Granny Torrelli, the second special ingredient of Creech's book. Thank goodness for this loving Italian granny. She is always accessible and full of empathy. She offers instructive and entertaining stories from her own life and the wisdom of her views while preparing a big pot of soup, or mixing up pasta. Conversation happens more easily as Granny Torrelli and Rosie chop vegetables for zuppa! They fling these vegetables into the pot, and soon they simmer into "a good smell bubbling in the kitchen." It is only then that Granny Torrelli asks, "Okay Rose, what's going on with you?" She won't accept Rosie's typical teenage answer of,"Nothing's going on with me." Granny Torrelli is not fooled by Rosie's "smart head" and wonders again "what's making your eyes so inside-looking?" Mixing her charming Italian-flavored English with obvious caring, Granny Torrelli quickly gets to the heart of Rosie's problems. She listens attentively, offers parables from her own life, and then ladles out steaming soup. Her timing is perfect, whether she is adding ingredients, or leaving time for Rosie to sort herself out as she goes to the bathroom to "take a pause". Creech again triumphs at exposing the tender subtleties and delicacies of changing relationships through what she leaves unsaid. Granny Torrelli's stories are full of teaching, but both the wise elderly woman and the author leave room for the characters and the readers to draw their own conclusions. Readers will also find the form of the book pleasing, for Creech has organized this story into small delicious bites of short chapters with large margins. A sprinkling of illustrations by Chris Raschka adds zest. 2003, HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
Creech is the winner of the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons, and she also wrote The Wanderer, a Newbery Honor winner. This short story tells a lot with few words. As Rosie and her grandmother make soup and pasta, Rosie tells her grandmother her troubles and grandmother shares stories about parallel troubles when she was a girl in Italy. Rosie is 12 years old and has lived in the same neighborhood most of her life. Her best friend is Bailey, who is blind; they have been close friends and playmates since they were tiny. Now their relationship is subtly changing, as is clear when a new girl moves in and is interested in befriending Bailey, an attractive boy. Rosie is jealous, but doesn't really want to admit she herself is interested in Bailey as a boyfriend, maybe. The fact that Bailey is blind has raised some tension between the friends over the years. Rosie, for instance, was envious when Bailey learned to read Braille, feeling left behind...so she learns it on her own and feels proud. Bailey's reaction is fierce: he first thinks she has cheated and actually is reading a "regular book"; then when the truth hits him, he says, "You think you're pretty smart, don't you, Rosie?"—and slams the door on her. Of course, what follows is a conversation between Rosie and Granny Torrelli, in which Granny confesses her stubbornness long ago with her best friend—and the two take soup next door to Bailey and his mother and Bailey apologizes to Rosie. Rosie remembers another time when she was younger and she tried to get a guide dog for Bailey by concealing a stray dog in the garage. This is a charming, amusing book. It's for the 10—12 age group, but perhaps it could stretch to 13 and 14-year-oldstudents who are reluctant readers, because although the words aren't complicated, the interchanges between Bailey and Rosie and Granny Torrelli are more profound than they first appear to be, and would be good for class discussions. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2003, HarperCollins, 141p.,
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Sharon Creech's novel (HarperCollins, 2003) provides a humorous and endearing narrative about intergenerational relationships. Twelve-year-old Rosie and her grandmother, Granny Torrelli, begin to make "zuppa" as the story unfolds. The culinary setting becomes the backdrop for conversations about the ups and downs of adolescence, and the growing pains associated with the change in friendships over the years. The audio rendition brings a palpable energy to the text. Donna Murphy excels with her vocal characterizations and pacing, providing a vivacious and empathetic reading for all the characters and their moods-the earthy, honest Rosie, animated Granny Torrelli, composed Bailey, and Rosie's bouncy, upbeat nemesis, Janine. Diction is clear throughout. This is especially important as Italian phrases and words are sprinkled throughout. Teachers and librarians who are focusing on children with disabilities can use this as an insightful tool, as Bailey's blindness is faced head-on. The culinary experience can be shared by visiting Sharon Creech's homepage (http://www.sharon creech.co.uk/torelli_recipes.asp) for Italian cooking recipes.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Riverdale, MD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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)
Read an Excerpt
Granny Torrelli Makes Soup PLMThat Bailey . . .
Bailey, that Bailey! He said to me, Rosie, get over yourself!
It was not a compliment.
I said, Bailey, you get over your own self.
Which shows you just how mad I was, to say such a dumb thing.I'm Mad . . .
Bailey, who is usually so nice, Bailey, my neighbor, my friend, my buddy, my pal for my whole life, knowing me better than anybody, that Bailey, that Bailey I am so mad at right now, that Bailey, I hate him today.Granny Torrelli Makes Soup PLM. Copyright © by Sharon Creech. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.