Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Tangle of Knots

A Tangle of Knots
by Lisa Graff
Philomel, 2013
Format:  Chapter Book
Audience:  Grades 3 to 6
ISBN:  9780399255175
Publication Date:  February 5, 2013

Almost everyone has a Talent, a gift, something they can do better than anyone in the world.  Some skills are incredible like cake baking, knitting, or stealing other Talents, while other Talents are mundane like spitting, whistling, or knot tying (although the man that ties knots has the kind of grin that suggests her knows more about the world than he's letting on).  Cady, the Talented cake baker, can meet a person right away and decide what their perfect cake is, and she makes it to make them happy.  This talent takes her, and all those around her, on a great adventure in which they discover a vast and new family, Talented or not.

A Tangle of Knots reminded me of several books.  Savvy by Ingrid Law because of the Talents, Pie by Sarah Weeks because of the recipes, and anything hopeful or beautiful by Lisa Graff or Wendy Mass that I read in the past because it just makes you feel good to read it.

This book is a tangle of characters!  There's Cady, the cake baker, The Owner, the thief, Marigold and her whole family, Talented or not, V, the author in disguise, Mrs. Asher who gave up on her dream, Miss Mallory who only wants a family, and Toby who fears he will never have one again.  Plus the man with the knots that seems to pop up like a fairy godmother to both cause trouble and mend problems.  That would be my biggest problem with this book is that there are almost too many characters, but they all fit together so well that I'm not sure if any of them could really leave the story.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the repetition.  Mrs. Asher's hairpin is described as "beige and cracked and knobby, as wide as a rib of celery and as long as a pencil".  That description allows the reader to understand what it is, even before the other characters.  The way the knot maker is described every time by his grin allows the reader to know who he is, even when it's not specifically mentioned.  Even the St. Anthony's suitcases are mentioned so many times they either become an inside joke or character all their own.

I knew going in that A Tangle of Knots would be a heartwarming and delightful story and it did not disappoint.  This is the kind of story that I love to see on award lists-I'm looking at you Caudill Committee!  You love Lisa Graff!  There's enough action to satisfy most readers and with so many different types of characters, you can easily sell this to both boys and girls.  Plus, it's a relatively quick book which should also bring in readers.  A Tangle of Knots would work great in a school setting as well.  Readers could discuss Talents and what Talent they would like to have, bake a cake, and even write a sequel to the story about all the squirrels that were accidentally given talents (you'll have to read the book to find out how that happens!).

I recommend A Tangle of Knots to anyone that wants a quick, uplifting book with plenty of action and lovable characters.

Happy Reading!

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