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A Tangle of Knots Hardcover – February 5, 2013


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Best Children's Books
This title has been selected by the Amazon editors as one of the Best Children's Books of 2013 for Ages 9-12.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399255176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399255175
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-7-Graff has created a world very much like our own, but just a little bit magical. In this version of Poughkeepsie, New York, many lucky people have Talent, one skill that makes them special. Cady, an orphan who lives with kindly Miss Mallory, can look at a person and immediately know what they like and bake their ideal cake. Miss Mallory's talent is finding just-right parents for orphans, but so far, she hasn't felt that perfect-parent pull for Cady. While the 11-year-old is the star of this tale, the novel integrates an expertly developed cast of supporting characters who all have their own amazing stories. Not until the very end do readers see how their paths intertwine. The plot twists deliciously around an irresistible peanut butter factory, an evil Talent thief, a very important hair pin, and a rare powder-blue suitcase that could hold the key to everything. Sprinkled throughout is a generous helping of cake recipes, perfectly suited to each of the characters, just begging to be tried. Recommend this one to fans of Sheila O'Connor, who will appreciate the charming and unusual setting, and Wendy Mass, for those who like a little dose of fantasy thrown in with their realism.-Mandy Laferriere, Staley Middle School, Frisco, TXα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Although she is the last orphan who has not yet been placed in an adoptive home by her orphanage’s matron, 11-year-old Cady is cheerful, and she possesses a talent that cheers others: she can bake just the perfect cake to suit the disposition of anyone for whom she cares. Graff, whose middle-grade titles include The Thing about Georgie (2007), blends this delicious premise craftily into another story featuring a suitcase lost many years earlier—and the gruff old man who seeks to reclaim it. The knot tying these two strands becomes even more elaborate with the introduction of a family of five, including a 6-year-old and his pet ferret. With grace and charm, as well as recipes for Cady’s various cakes, Graff develops a clever series of plot twists and eccentric, fully formed individuals, each of whom has his or her own secrets, worries, and points of intersection with the knotty problems arising for the other characters. Complex without ever being confusing, witty, and sprinkled with gently scary bits, Cady’s story is as satisfying as her cakes. Combining the literary sensibility of E. B. White with the insouciance of Louis Sachar, Graff has written a tangle that should satisfy readers for years to come. Grades 3-6. --Francisca Goldsmith

More About the Author

Lisa Graff is the author of several middle-grade novels, including THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE, UMBRELLA SUMMER, and A TANGLE OF KNOTS. She enjoys reading, baking, and playing board games. She is exceedingly proud to have twice placed fourth from last at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. A former children's book editor, Lisa now writes full-time from her home in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 47 customer reviews
This book was a quick read and a lot of fun.
SmartGirlsRead
Ms. Graff intricately weaves the stories of her characters together and introduces a conflict that resolves itself most satisfactorily.
mister hernandez
The ending of this story left me wanting to discuss my thoughts with someone else who has read the book.
linda rudel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A TANGLE OF KNOTS is a story told in bits and pieces, where every little bit connects and creates a whole that is lovely and magical. What at first seems random is interconnected, people moving in and out of each other's lives in the most unexpected ways.

Cady is an orphan with a Talent for baking cakes. That's talent with a capital T. The world of A TANGLE OF KNOTS is much like ours except for the fact that most people have Talents. It can take awhile to find yours, and it may not be impressive, but it's something special that you're very, very good at. Those who are Fair and have no Talent can still be successful, like the woman who owned the world's best peanut butter factory.

Cady's gone an exceptionally long time without being adopted. Miss Mallory knows exactly who the perfect parents for her charges are, so the process is often quite quick. Then the perfect father walks into her life. A TANGLE OF KNOTS is told from many points of view and at first I disliked how short each chapter was. I felt like I would get a sense of the new narrator then be whisked away. Then I got into the rhythm of the story and liked how it alternated, every section slotting perfectly into place.

Although A TANGLE OF KNOTS is a sort of gentle and innocent fantasy, it does have an excellent villain and some hints of darkness. The Owner is incredibly creepy, although his past does evoke some pity. The Talents, while treasured by their owners, can also be troublesome. One character found her Talent very late in life and misses the career she had as a Fair - the career she never would've advanced in because she wasn't Talented. The magic is joyous to the child characters, but the adult narrators have a more nuanced view.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Angela on March 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A Tangle of Knots had a lot of great things going for it. I loved that the fantasy feel of it was still so steeped in reality. It was close to the magical realism that I love so much in Sarah Addison Allen's writing. Each person is just like you or me, except everyone has one thing in particular they are good at, a Talent. It can be something as amazing as floating instead of walking, or something as simple as being a great whistler. If they don't have a particular talent then they are called a "fair".

A Tangle of Knots was told from multiple character point of views. As the story plays out we get to see how the fate of these characters are very carefully woven together like a knot. I think that the multiple point of views worked well for what the story wanted, my problem with it was that there were too many POVs for how short the book really was. Some of the characters just didn't feel as fleshed out, and some didn't even feel as needed for the story as others. Since there was so many character POV chapters thrown at you so quickly at the beginning, it was also difficult to keep up with who was who for awhile.

A Tangle of Knots ended up being a fun tale of family, adventure, cakes, how fate knots us all together, and how life is what you make of what fate throws at you. While I had a few problems with some of the execution, A Tangle of Knots was a quick read that I still found to be an enjoyable way to spend my evening.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Carl on November 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Tangle of Knots is a beautiful tale, told from several different perspectives (hence the name). While I enjoy reading stories from multiple viewpoints, this one had a lot, so it took some brainpower on my part to keep up with who was who and how it all related. But, let me say, this doesn't disparage from the story at all. Once I got into the rhythm of the alternating perspectives, I started looking forward to seeing in what sort of mess I would find the next character. It was pure delight and I was sorry to see it end.

And oh, what an ending. I haven't found many authors who "wrap up" a story as tightly and as wonderfully as this one. It is one of the best "feel good" ending I've ever read. My heart raced as the story rushed toward the climax. At times, I almost forgot to breathe.

Though I'm not a fan of stories that involve "little girls" and "baking cakes" (and all that other froo-froo girly stuff), but I ate this story up! It stole my heart as readily as if Cady had baked it just for me.

This scrumptious little story left me wanting seconds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SmartGirlsRead on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After seeing several book reviewers list A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff as one of the top ten books to read this year, I added it to my summer reading list. This one I read just for me, but my children would have loved it. Centering around several different story lines, A Tangle of Knots takes place in Poughkeepsie, New York. This is a very special version of the world in which most people have a Talent. These Talents can be anything from knot-tying to plant-watering or even spitting. One eleven-year-old girl possesses the Talent of knowing exactly which kind of cake will be someone's favorite and the head of a home for orphaned girls is Talented in knowing exactly which family and which orphan go together.

I also loved that between several chapters, the author includes recipes for some of the characters' perfect cakes: Miss Malory's Peach Cake, Will's S'more Cake, Marigold's Lime Pound Cake and even one called Zane's Garlic Cake. I'm not sure I'd like to try that last one, but it says it is "a cake that's not as terrible as it seems, on the surface, to be."

And finally the moral of the story is all wrapped up in one man's advice to Cady, the last orphan,

"'Just remember this,' he said. 'It's the way we deal with what Fate hands us that defines who we are.'"

That's good advice for all of us, young or old.

This book was a quick read and a lot of fun. I think my niece will love it so I've already put it on my Christmas list for her! Shh...don't tell her.

[...]
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