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Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who ...
Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent.
Lisa Graff adds a pinch of magic to a sharply crafted plot to create a novel that will have readers wondering about fate and the way we're all connected.
It soon becomes clear that Cady is unknowingly tied to a group of people staying at a boarding house above a lost luggage store: a family with three spirited kids, a woman who's lost the ability to speak, a loner, and the grouchy owner. If Cady is at the center of the story, which is told from multiple viewpoints, the thread through the tale is the large man in the gray suit enigmatic grin that 'suggested he knew more about the world than he's letting on.' He shows up just in time to give a nudge in the right direction to those who need it, imparting a little insight about fate along the way.
Things get slightly confusing near the end as all the pieces come together, but the sheer enjoyment of the building storyline and a careful read of Graff's lyrical style mitigates that.
"[A] magical puzzle."—The Wall Street Journal
"10 out of 10 . . . I didn't want to put it down."—TIME Magazine for Kids
"Graff's story has a warmth and gentle humor that, along with the premise, calls to mind Ingrid Law's Savvy."—Publishers Weekly
An Amazon.com Best Book of the Month
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Chapter 1: Cady
Miss Mallory’s Home for Lost Girls in Poughkeepsie, New York, was technically an orphanage, but there were hardly ever any orphans there. In fact, most days, if you peeked inside the window, you would see only one orphan, all by herself but hardly lonely, standing on her tiptoes at the kitchen counter, baking a cake.
Cadence, that was her name.
She was standing there now, Cady, deciding what to add to her bowl of batter. If you squinted through the window, you could just make her out from the chin up (Cady was barely a wisp of a thing). You’d see the shiny, crow-black hair that hung smooth as paper from the top of her head to the bottoms of her earlobes. And you’d see the petite—pixieish, Miss Mallory called them—features of her face. Tiny nose, tiny mouth, tiny ears. Cady’s eyes, however, those were large in comparison to the rest of her. Large and dark and round, and set just so on a face the color of a leaf that has clung too long to its tree.
Flour, sugar, butter, eggs. Cady studied the bowl in front of her. She closed her eyes, digging into the furthest reaches of her brain to figure out what would be the perfect addition to her cake. At last her thick black lashes fluttered open. She had it.
Cinnamon. She would make a cinnamon cake.
No one knew exactly when Cady’s Talent for baking had first emerged—just as no one knew exactly where she had come from. But one thing was certain: Cady was a Talented baker. She could bake anything, really. Pies. Muffins. Bread. Casseroles. Even the perfect pizza if she put her mind to it. But what Cady loved above all else was baking cakes. All she needed to do was to close her eyes, and she could imagine the absolutely perfect cake for any person, anywhere. A pinch more salt, a touch less cream. It was one hundred percent certain that the person she was baking for would never have tasted anything quite so heavenly in all his life. In fact, what the orphanage lacked in orphans it made up for in cake-baking trophies. Five first-place trophies from the Sunshine Bakers of America Annual Cake Bakeoff lined the front hall, one for every year that Cady had entered from the age of five, when her oven mitts swallowed her up tofithe elbows. No matter who entered the competition—professional bakers, famous chefs with exclusive restaurants—none of their Talents were able to match Cady’s, not for five years running. Cady’s cakes were never the most beautiful, or the most stunning. Last year not one but two bakers had crafted fifty-layer-high masterpieces of sugary wonder, studded with frosted stars and flowers and figurines. One even included a working chocolate fountain. Cady’s single-layer pistachio sheet cake had looked pitiful in comparison. But nonetheless, it had been the judge’s favorite, because Cady had baked it specifically for him.
This year’s bakeoff would be held in just one short week in New York City, a two-hour drive away. Miss Mallory had already cleared space in the hallway for a sixth trophy.
The kitchen door squeaked open and in waltzed Miss Mallory, a polka-dot tablecloth folded in her arms. (Miss Mallory’s perfect cake, as far as Cady was concerned, was just as scrumptious as she was—a nutty peach cake with cream cheese frosting.)
“What did you come up with?” Miss Mallory asked, crossing the room to peer into the cake bowl.
Cady found the cinnamon in the cabinet above her and popped off the lid. “Cinnamon,” she replied, shaking the spice into the bowl. Cady had no need for measurements. “A cinnamon cake, three layers high.”
Miss Mallory took a deep breath of pleasure. “And the frosting?”
Cady did not even need a moment to think. She knew the answer, sensed it the way other people could sense which way to walk home after a stroll in the woods. “Chocolate buttercream with a hint of spice,” she replied.
“Perfect,” Miss Mallory said. “Amy will love it.” She snuck a finger out from under her tablecloth to poke a tiny glob from the bowl. “I hope this fog finally gives up,” she said, sighing as the taste of the batter hit her tongue.
Cady had been so intent on her baking that she hadn’t even noticed the haze. She peered out the window. Out on the lawn, the thick mist obscured all but the legs of the picnic table, and puddles speckled the steps to the porch.
It had been foggy the morning Cady was brought to Miss Mallory’s, too. Cady had been much too young to remember it, but she’d heard the story so many times that the details were as real and comfortable as a pair of well-worn shoes. The damp smell of the dew outside. The mystery novel Miss Mallory had been reading when she heard the knock at the door. And most especially, Miss Mallory’s surprise at the arrival.
“I’d never seen a baby so small,” Miss Mallory always told her. “And with such a remarkable head of hair. There was a braid woven into it.” Here Miss Mallory would trace the plaits across Cady’s scalp, making Cady’s skin tingle delightfully. “It was the most intricate braid I’ve ever seen, twisted in and about and around itself like a crown. Whoever gave you that braid was Talented indeed.”
Miss Mallory snuck one more fingerful of batter from the bowl. “Perhaps we should move the party inside today,” she suggested.
“But Adoption Day parties are always outside,” Cady protested, slapping Miss Mallory’s hand away playfully. There wasn’t much consistency in the life of an orphan—new housemates coming and going like waves on a shore—but Adoption Day parties were always the same. Adoption Day parties took place outside, with presents and card games (it was difficult to play other sorts of games with so few people about) and a cake baked by Cady for the lucky little girl whose Adoption Day it was.
People sometimes suspected, when they learned how few orphans lived at Miss Mallory’s Home for Lost Girls, that it must be a sorry excuse for an orphanage. But the truth was quite the opposite. The truth was that most of the orphans at Miss Mallory’s found their perfect families astonishingly quickly. Miss Mallory had a Talent for matching orphans to families—she felt a tug, deep in her chest, she said, when she sensed that two people truly belonged together, and she just knew. Most of the little girls who came through the orphanage doors were matched within days of arriving, sometimes hours. Miss Mallory had famously matched one girl only seven minutes after she stepped off her train. They would send photos, those lucky little girls who had found their perfect families, and Miss Mallory would frame them and hang them in the front hallway, just above Cady’s row of trophies. Smiling kids, beaming parents.
Cady had studied them carefully.
Cady was the only orphan at Miss Mallory’s who had ever stayed for an extended period of time. Oh, Miss Mallory had tried to match her. Over the years Cady had been sent to live with no fewer than six families—loving, happy, wonderful families—but unlike with the other orphans, it had never quite worked out. Cady had always done her best to be the perfect daughter. She yes, ma’amed and no, sired and ate all her vegetables and went to bed on time. But no fewer than six times, Miss Mallory had come to return Cady to the orphanage long before her one-week trial period was over. “I made a mistake,” Miss Mallory always told her. “That wasn’t your perfect family.”
But Cady knew that Miss Mallory didn’t make mistakes. Somehow, for some reason that Cady couldn’t explain, the fault lay with her. And Cady vowed that if she ever got another chance, with another family, she would do whatever it took to make it work. One day she would have an Adoption Day party of her own. One day she would bake the perfect cake for herself.
“Maybe,” Cady said slowly, glancing outside at the beautifully foggy morning, “maybe today’s the day I’ll meet my family.” The very idea warmed her through just as much as the heat from the oven. She tugged an oven mitt onto each hand and opened the oven door, then set the cake pans on the center rack. “Maybe,” she said again, “my real and true family will step right out of the fog.”
Posted February 12, 2013
In A Tangle of Knots, Lisa Graff brings us a delightful fantasy novel where almost everyone has a special talent, and if they don’t, then they desperately try to find one. Combining several stories that are “knotted” together, we meet a host of enjoyable characters, a collection of blue suitcases and a little girl who has the uncanny ability to bake a cake perfectly suited for anyone’s personality.
The book is told from multiple viewpoints, but focuses primarily on little Cady, the orphan who has the uncanny ability to bake a cake perfectly suited for someone’s personality. Cady is adorable, and I really felt for her. She wants desperately to find a family of her own, but for some reason Miss Molloy, the woman in charge of the orphanage whose talent is the ability to perfectly match a child to parents, has been unsuccessful in matching Cady.
We also meet several other characters including V (a woman who cannot speak), Zane (a total problem child), Marigold (a girl who desperately wants to find her talent), and Will (a boy desperate for an adventure).
The writing is perfectly suited for a middle grade audience, but I think teens and adults looking for an enjoyable fantasy would really like this one. What I especially liked were the recipes peppered throughout the book. The recipes are for the cakes Cady makes based on other character’s personalities. While it did take me a while to figure out how on earth all of these stories would tie together, I really enjoyed the book. Eventually it all came together, and I was pleased with the ending.
Light, fun, magical and mysterious, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to escape in a bit of magical realism. And you might find a new cake recipe you can’t live without!
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 12, 2013
Posted April 29, 2013
Cady can bake the perfect cake for each person. Will gets lost in his adventures. Zane can split and hit anything. And Marigold seems to have no talent at all. The lives of these kids gets tangled with shady charecters,hidden histories,and serious matters.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2013
Posted October 25, 2013
Posted March 9, 2013
Posted July 31, 2013
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