Sharon Creech, . . HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029290-4

A warm kitchen filled with inviting aromas sets the scene for this heartfelt novel celebrating friendship and family ties. Here 12-year-old Rosie and her Italian grandmother whip up extraordinary dishes and exchange confidences. As the novel opens, Rosie broods on a fight she has had with her best friend, Bailey, who is going blind, and it soon becomes apparent that Granny Torrelli's talents aren't limited to cooking. She detects that her granddaughter is bothered by something and tells Rosie a few stories from her own childhood that resonate with Rosie's situation as the two prepare a delicious soup. Rosie then confides memories of Bailey, and the layering of experiences builds in much the same way as Creech's Fishing in the Air. Though Rosie and Granny may be generations apart, their lives have been shaped by similar situations. By the second section, "Pasta Party," Rosie and Bailey are on better terms. Creech (Walk Two Moons) once again shows her ability to crystallize characters and express their emotions through very few, carefully chosen words. Her subtle approach only enhances the novel's cumulative impact. Like comfort food, conversations between Granny and Rosie have a soothing effect, reminding readers that conflicts pass and there will always be moments when friends and family gather, peace of mind returns and, in Granny Torrelli's words, "Tutto va bene"—all is well. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)