Granny Torrelli Makes Soup

by Sharon Creech (2003)

Newbery Award winning author Sharon Creech blends the ingredients for a soulful story just like an old Italian grandmother blends the ingredients for soup.  In a brisk 134 pages, Creech’s Granny Torrelli Makes Soup is a perfect little introduction to narrative prose for students and their families. It offers the simple premise that best friends are timeless and magical, even when that friendship is put to the test.  Creech allows her beloved Granny Torrelli character to repeatedly remind us to ‘sense’ the big picture in life even when we can’t ‘see’ it.

Granny Torrelli uses the close-quarters of her kitchen to create an unbreakable bond with her 12 year old granddaughter, Rosie.  Granny Torrelli always knows the right ingredients for the zuppa and the right thing to say to Rosie.  “You maybe can fool other people with that smart head of yours, but you can’t fool Granny Torrelli.”

Granny Torrelli is there when Rosie starts having problems with her life-long best friend Bailey, who is visually impaired.  With a careful juxtaposition of memories and pauses, Granny leads Rosie – “my Rosie girl” – on a journey to find her own solutions to her own challenges.  At the same time, she teaches family soup and pasta recipes.  “Big pinches or little ones? I ask.  Medium, she says.”  Granny mixes the salt, flour and eggs to make pasta, and she leads Rosie and Bailey to mix their choices to make friendship.

As the book unfolds, we see a story of friendship from Granny’s past mix with the story of Rosie and Bailey.  As the pages turn, the memories and the current story becomes more intertwined and blended into one. Granny Torrelli Makes Soup teaches us all that jealousy may present itself in our lives, but it cannot destroy strong bonds. More importantly, in the random, unexpected ingredients of life, lie some of the richest dishes to share.  Tutto va bene.  All is well.

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