Diane Prather: See what Granny Torrelli is cooking up
December 5, 2007
Craig — If you were 12 years old and one day found yourself feeling mad at your buddy, your best pal for your whole life, you might want to talk things over with your grandma. For Rosie, the leading character in this week’s novel, the person to talk to is Granny Torrelli.
“Granny Torrelli Makes Soup,” a novel for young adults, was written by Newberry Medal winner Sharon Creech.
It’s a novel of 141 pages, made up of short, fast-paced chapters, each with a clever title. The book is divided into two parts: part I is “Soup” and part II is “Pasta.” The two parts represent what Granny Torrelli was cooking up during the two times Rosie had problems with her best pal.
It all starts when Rosie’s best friend Bailey says “Rosie, get over yourself.” That might not seem like a particularly negative thing to say, but Rosie is hopping mad. Bailey usually is so nice. Right now, she hates Bailey.
The reader will discover that there are two sides to every story.
And then Granny Torrelli shows up at Rosie’s house as if she knows there’s something wrong with Rosie. Granny says Rosie’s parents are going to be working, so she’s in charge tonight. Granny Torelli wants to make soup – “zuppa” she calls it.
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So, Granny defrosts some chicken and throws it in a big pot with some water. She puts it on the stove to cook. Then, she and Rosie chop, chop, chop, chop up carrots, celery, onions and mushrooms and toss them into the pot, too.
It’s during the chopping and tossing that Granny asks what’s going on with Rosie. Rosie says nothing’s going on, but she can’t fool Granny Torelli. She knows that something’s up.
After adding little pieces of pasta and a lot of stirring, the soup is finally ready. Granny and Rosie sit down to enjoy some “zuppa.” That’s when Rosie finally tells Granny why she’s so mad at Bailey.
Granny says Rosie and Bailey make her think of Pardo, her best pal. Granny begins telling about their childhood relationship. When Granny takes a bathroom break, Rosie starts thinking back throughout the years, since age 3, that she and Bailey have been pals.
That’s how the reader finds out about Bailey’s failing eyesight and how he had to go to a special school and not to school with Rosie. Rosie tried to train a guide dog for Bailey (which ended up being disastrous) and just before she got so mad at Bailey, Rosie had learned Braille.
When Granny returns to her storytelling, she asks what Rosie had been thinking about (perhaps Granny’s break was well-timed.)
Pardo once told Granny that she was “full of herself,” too, and just like Rosie, Granny was mad. She never got the chance to make it up before Pardo was tragically killed.
Right then, Rosie knows what she needs to do. She and Granny gather up some bowls and zuppa and head for Bailey’s house.
In part II of the book, Granny, Bailey and Rosie make pasta while Rosie works out a problem with a new girl in the neighborhood.
Cooking and eating delicious meals is one way we nurture ourselves. In this book, the author has combined the nurturing activities of cooking with the nurturing guidance of a wise grandmother.
I really like this book.
“Granny Torrelli Makes Soup” is a Joanna Cotler book. It’s $15.99 in hardcover.