In this endearing story by Newberry Medal-winner Sharon Creech, a wise old Italian granny skillfully imparts life advice (and cooking lessons) to her winning but sometimes obstinate 12-year-old granddaughter.
Best known for Walk Two Moons and The Wanderer, Creech makes good use of another inventive format: Rosie's story unfolds first, over making and eating zuppa, and then Granny Torrelli tells parallel stories from her own childhood to help Rosie with her current predicament. Granny Torrelli's tales are laced with endearing, fun-to-say Italian: "I didn't like it, not one piccolino bit," as is her attempt to help Rosie mend her rift with her best friend Bailey ("That Bailey boy!"), for whom she's starting to feel more-than-friendship feelings.
The details of both Rosie's and Granny Torrelli's respective stories are often quite funny (from Braille jealousy to secret guide-dog training for the legally blind Bailey). But, as usual, what Creech does best is slyly proffer small, nourishing morsels of wisdom--not unlike the cavatelli, the "little dough canoes," that Rosie, Granny Torrelli, and that Bailey boy labor over in the book's sweet second half. Just be warned that you might find yourself starving by the end of the story. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-Tastes and smells emerge along with wisdom and insight as a grandmother and grandchild reveal experiences past and present in the warmth of the kitchen. Rosie and Bailey are neighbors, born only a week apart. They are like sister and brother, only better "because I chose him and he chose me." She has always been his helper as he was born visually impaired. But now they have had a falling out. As Rosie tells Granny, Bailey is acting spiteful, all because she tried to be just like him. To be just like Bailey-her buddy, her pal-Rosie secretly learned to read Braille and unknowingly took away the special thing only he could do. When the two of them come together with Granny Torrelli in the kitchen and make cavatelli, the rift between them heals. Stories and wisdom continue as sauce and meatballs are made, helping to clarify feelings. As family and friends raise a glass of water to toast the cooks, Rosie realizes that her world is indeed bigger as is Bailey's; that tutto va bene-all is well! Twelve-year-old Rosie's narration seamlessly integrates Granny Torrelli's stories and fleeting conversations in short chapters. Her authentic voice gradually reveals what has happened and the accompanying emotions ranging from anger and angst to happiness and contentment. The integration of the Italian kitchen and Granny's family stories from the old country add flavor just like the ingredients in her recipes. This is a meal that should not be missed.
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Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
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