True friends: Bailey defends 12-year-old Rosie from school bullies; Rosie secretly learns to read Braille as a surprise for Bailey, who is blind. Rosie calls Bailey "my neighbor, my friend, my buddy, my pal for my whole life." But what happens when a new girl moves into the neighborhood, with her "cool frizzy black hair," flashing her "sparkly white smile, no braces or anything?" Or when another family moves in with boys their age? In Sharon Creech's latest book, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, friendship gets tricky when others enter the mix. We watch as various sides of Rosie surface: odd Rosie, stubborn Rosie, take-charge Rosie. She's a faithful friend, but sometimes a jealous one. And that's where Granny Torrelli comes in. Rosie's Italian grandmother is a down-home mentor for Rosie, with wisdom, life experiences and stories to help her through friendship's trials and tribulations. While making zuppa (soup) or pasta with Rosie, she shares similar experiences of when she was a girl in Italy with a best buddy named Pardo. When a beautiful new girl named Violetta threatened her relationship with Pardo, and a handsome boy named Marco moved into the neighborhood, Granny faced many of the same problems Rosie is encountering. When Granny relates how Pardo was killed in a horrible accident, Rosie learns the importance of letting your friends know how much you love them. Granny also shares a story of caring for a neighbor's sick baby, holding her and singing to her for hours. Helping the little Gattozzi baby, she says, made her feel as if her life were bigger, not so centered on herself. Told in Rosie's sprightly, engaging voice and laced with Granny Torrelli's down-to-earth wisdom, this slight, fast-paced novel is as satisfying as a bowl of zuppa. Chris Raschka's drawings add a special spice to this story of life, family and friendship. In Granny Torrelli's Italian kitchen, Rosie learns important lessons and, by the end of her story, her world, too, seems larger. May we all have a Granny Torrelli in our lives, full of wisdom, warmth, and home cooking. Tutto va bene, Rosie. All is well.

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