A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Tangle of Knots takes its title from both the extensive collection of knots belonging to one of the characters, and the way in which the often-hidden threads of the characters' lives converge and intertwine. In a magic-enhanced version of Poughkeepsie, NY, and its surroundings, material objects have a mind of their own in deciding what person to connect with, and people are divided into those with a Talent and those without. Meanwhile, a villain finds a way to steal Talents from those who have them. Thefts by two other characters (one recent, one long past) influence plot developments. Some of the dysfunctional family and neighbor relationships, from parent-child conflict to burglary, may unnerve kids who live in a more harmonious world.
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What's the story?
In a world much like our own, only stranger, the course of your life depends heavily on whether you have a Talent. Eleven-year-old orphan Cady has a definite talent for baking; her friend Marigold, whose family becomes Cady's neighbors after their city apartment is demolished by a hot air balloon, struggles to find her own talent and to restrain her brother, a skilled thief, from exercising his. Like A TANGLE OF KNOTS, the connections between the girls and many apparently random characters emerge, flourish, and bring unexpected solutions.
Is it any good?
The convoluted puzzle that connects several generations of characters will delight some readers, and probably have them rereading for clues they've missed. Other readers may bog down and find too much complication for too little payoff. Some connections that bind the characters reveal themselves in a leisurely fashion, or not at all; author Graff frequently describes a character grinning "in a way that suggested that he knew more about the world than he was letting on," and this attitude infuses the narrative, often leaving young readers to figure out obliquely suggested details for themselves.
Still, many kids will relate to Cady's longing for a family and Marigold's efforts to keep her own family from running off the rails. Cady's talent is for making the perfect cake for each recipient, and A Tangle of Knots includes numerous recipes for baked goods, both sweet and savory, that are sure to appeal to budding chefs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why stories about kids who are great cooks are so popular. Do you think you might like to try some of the recipes here?
How do decisions in the adult characters' past affect their kids?
Do you find the revelation of how the characters are connected believable? Did you figure it out before the ending?
- Author: Lisa Graff
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Philomel
- Publication date: February 5, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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