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 spoonful of 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. Granny Torrelli reminds us to sense the big picture in life even when the little details get in the way.
In the close quarters of Rosie’s kitchen, grandmother and granddaughter create an unbreakable bond. Granny Torrelli always knows the right ingredients for the zuppa and the right thing to say to 12-year-old Rosie. “You maybe can fool other people with that smart head of yours, but you can’t fool Granny Torrelli.”
Bailey, you get over your own self.
Granny Torrelli is there when Rosie starts having problems with her life-long best friend Bailey, who is visually impaired. Rosie secretly learned Braille as a surprise to Bailey, but he was hurt instead. None of this makes sense to Rosie who has always seen herself as Bailey’s protector. Granny Torrelli helps Rosie to see that it is time to let Bailey be his own person.
With a careful juxtaposition of memories and pauses, Granny Torrelli teaches family soup and pasta recipes while letting Rosie find her way through her hurt feelings. Granny mixes the salt, flour, and eggs to make pasta, and she leads Rosie and Bailey to mix their choices as they make friendship.
As the book unfolds, stories of friendship and jealousy from Granny’s past mix with the story of Rosie and Bailey. As the pages turn, the memories and the current story become intertwined and blended, leading to a conclusion as satisfying and a big pasta dinner. Granny Torrelli Makes Soup teaches us all that the random, unexpected ingredients of life can end up making some of the richest dishes to share. Tutto va bene. All is well.