n

 

 

Are you searching for some good "comfort food"?  How about a good "comfort
read"?  Sharon Creech's "Granny Torrelli Makes Soup" will not only enlighten
you to some wonderful Italian meals, but give you encouragement and
confidence throughout life's daily struggles.
Only Creech can write with her award winning flair as she has an ability to
create and interpose her advice with style and interest. The placement of
words and spaces are unique and are strategically placed making for more
impact in the dialogue between the two protagonists.
Twelve-year-old Rosie is upset with her best friend, Bailey, when he reacts
to her surprise with rudeness.  Bailey can't see and has learned to read by
Braille. Rosie wanted to surprise him by learning this technique. When she
finally seemed to have it mastered, and demonstrates by reading out of one
of his books, his reaction is annoyance.  Granny comes to the rescue when
she shows up at Rosie's house and cooks some chicken "zuppa" (soup).
Throughout the preparations for the meal, Rosie opens up to Granny and
Granny shares with Rosie personal experiences to help Rosie understand how
and why Bailey must feel about his best friend learning something only he
could do. Granny talks about a boy back in her Italian village and their
great friendship. But Granny also brings out her shortcomings and what she
learned from it. Her stories are warm, funny and filled with parallels from
which Rosie can draw.  Granny speaks a little Italian throughout the story
that Creech reiterates by writing the pronunciation making the words
memorable.  But, most memorable is the unquestioning love that Rosie and her
Granny feel for each other and their love and acceptance for their neighbors
and their differences.
This story deals with disabilities, jealousy, friendships, family and
grandparent relationships and immigration. The subjects and characters will
touch your heart and most likely help you place the most important things in
life in their true perspective. The story is an easy read, with 141 pages,
making it a fast read for 8 to 12 year olds. I'm just glad that I found the
delicious recipes for Granny's soup and other items she prepared in the
story.  Just log onto www.sharoncreech.co.uk/torelli_recipes.asp.

n

Now, while we're on the subject of food, how about a donut? "Arnie the
Doughnut", by Laurie Keller, will have your age 4 through adult kids
laughing all of the way to the end.  Ms. Keller also illustrated this
ingenious book which explains why the book works so well.
Arnie can hardly wait to be purchased from the bakery's shelves. He takes
the reader back to when he was first baked early in the morning. First, he
was cut into a ring, by a "Ringy-Dingy Doughnut Making Thingy", then deep
fried. (The illustration shows a swimming pool and the smaller text by Arnie
reads, "I'm soaking in boiling grease, but I love it!") Then cooled. (The
picture has Arnie and his friends sunbathing as someone brings him a drink.)
The fourth picture has him being iced at Fifi's. Then Sprinkled. (The sign,
by the conveyor belt, reads "Caution: Sprinkle Area - Must Wear Safety
Goggles! Arnie is lying on the belt, along with friends, wearing safety
goggles. And last, but not least, the doughnuts received their names.
As you can see, the entire picture book is a tongue-in-cheek story about
Arnie and his experience at the bakery and then what actually happens to him
when he's purchased.  Ms. Keller has written the regular text that takes you
through the story. But the most humorous text is what she wrote in smaller
print all of the way through the story next to, underneath, or above the
pictures that she has illustrated.
What will happen to Arnie when Mr. Bing buys him and takes him out of the
store? You'll just have to read it to find out. This would be a hilarious
read-aloud that would make kids laugh out-loud. But, there should be a
warning on the cover of the book that reads, "Beware! Reading about these
delicate pastries will make you crave a doughnut. However, make sure it
doesn't talk before biting into it."