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A Tangle of Knots
Contributor(s): Graff, Lisa
ISBN: 0399255176     ISBN-13: 9780399255175
Publisher: Philomel Books
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover - Other Formats
Published: February 2013
Annotation: "Destiny leads 11-year-old Cady to a peanut butter factory, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever"--Provided by publisher. Includes cake recipes.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Orphans; Fiction.
Baking; Fiction.
Ability; Fiction.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
- Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
- Juvenile Fiction | Family | Orphans & Foster Homes
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2012009573
Lexile Measure: 840
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 6.00" W x 1.00" (0.76 lbs) 230 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 157329
Reading Level: 5.4   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 5.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q60299
Reading Level: 5.5   Interest Level: Grades 3-5   Point Value: 9.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Lisa Graff is an award-winning novelist whose books have been named to a total of 26 state award lists. Her previous critically acclaimed novels include Double Dog Dare, The Thing about Georgie and Umbrella Summer. Lisa Graff has an MFA from The New School in Writing for Children and is an adjunct professor at McDaniel College. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall)
Down-on-his-luck Mason Burgess rents rooms to seemingly disparate characters. They live in a world much like our own, but one populated by those who have Talents (and those who don't). Cady, a young cake baker (nine recipes included), gives the novel its heart. Her search for family uncovers a multilayered backstory, with events from each character's life connecting to her own.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #4)
Young Mason Burgess, clutching a suitcase, boards a bus for Philadelphia. Told to check it, he grudgingly does. But during the journey his suitcase mysteriously disappears. Fast-forward fifty-three years. Mason, now down on his luck, rents rooms to a number of seemingly disparate characters. They live in a world much like our own, but one populated by those who have Talents (including precision spitting, knot-tying, and knitting) and those, known as Fair, who do not. This jumble of information comes quickly in the beginning chapters; a single cliffhanger creates context: "In just one short week, every last one of them would have lost the thing they treasured most in the world." With so many individuals (from an orphan who can bake the perfect cake to a mystery writer who has lost her ability to use words) and situations, it is plot, rather than character, that drives the novel. Mason's half-a-century quest for his suitcase never develops as an arc and becomes an awkward, ancillary distraction. Instead, Cady, the cake baker (nine recipes included), gives the novel its heart. Her search for a family uncovers a multilayered backstory, with events from each character's life connecting to her own. Graff's first foray into fantasy resembles a jigsaw puzzle without a box-cover illustration; one must put all the pieces in place before the big picture is revealed. betty carter

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2012 December #4)

America's got Talents in this cozy novel from Graff (Double Dog Dare), set in a contemporary world in which certain people have specialized abilities, from levitation to spitting perfectly. Eleven-year-old orphan Cady has a Talent for baking—not only does Cady create the most delicious cakes around, she innately knows what someone's "perfect" cake is. When she gets adopted, her Talent helps unravel the mysteries of her past, but it also puts her in danger of losing her ability. Set mostly in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Graff's story has a warmth and gentle humor that, along with the premise, calls to mind Ingrid Law's Savvy. The author flips neatly between the perspectives of multiple characters, and the intricate connections between the narratives come together in a pleasing way as secrets are revealed. Readers who share Cady's love of baking will appreciate the inclusion of several cake recipes, like Marigold's lime pound cake and Mrs. Asher's honey cake, which are mentioned throughout the story and tied to key characters. Ages 8–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2013 March)

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, TX

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