Knots on a Counting Rope

( 1 )


In this poignant story, the counting rope is a metaphor for the passage of time and for a boy’s emerging confidence in facing his blindness.

A grandfather and his blind grandson, Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses, reminisce about the young boy's birth, his first horse, and an exciting horse race.

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In this poignant story, the counting rope is a metaphor for the passage of time and for a boy’s emerging confidence in facing his blindness.

A grandfather and his blind grandson, Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses, reminisce about the young boy's birth, his first horse, and an exciting horse race.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A rich tale of intergenerational love and respect.... It is a moving collaborative effort that reverberates long after the book is closed." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Native American grandfather tells a blind boy the inspirational story of the child's birth. "A rich tale of intergenerational love and respect... that reverberates long after the book is closed," PW wrote. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A young Native American boy begs his grandfather to tell him about the day he was born and other events in his young life. The poetic language touches the reader as does the story of this blind boy and his courage in overcoming that form of darkness in his life. What could be sad, rather is upbeat and inspirational, as is the love and respect between the boy and his grandfather. A Reading Rainbow Book. Also available in a Big Book edition for classroom and library use. 1967 (orig.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Plan to cry and get chills every time you read Knots on a Counting Rope by Martin and Archambault. This poignant tale tells of an Indian youth who sits by the fire with his aging grandfather. The grandfather tells the boy of his birth and young life, suggesting that this may be the last telling, urging that the boy learn to tell his own story. The boy is undone by the thought of his grandfather's death and asks for a promise against that event, but the man consoles him "I promise you nothing, Boy. / I love you. / That is better than a promise." Hidden in the story is the fact that the boy is blind, making the theme of owning one's own life even more powerful. Illustrations by Rand are as stirring as the words. His clear blue-skied scenes and the tenderness between grandfather and grandson are unforgettable.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4 Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses begs his grandfather to tell him again the story of the night he was born. In a question-and-answer litany, the boy and his grandfather share the telling of the events on that special nightthe wild storm; the frantic ride for the grandmother/midwife; the birth of the frail, sickly boy; and the blessings of the blue horses. Through a staccato dialogue, readers learn how the boy, who was born blind, teaches his horse to run the trails. They enter a race, and although the boy does not win, his grandfather tells him that he has ``raced darkness and won.'' The boy and his grandfather each have such a distinctive voice and cadence that there is no need of imposing qualifiers such as ``he said.'' The story unfolds naturally, exhibiting the love between the boy and his grandfather. The illustrations, executed in strong watercolors, capture the beauty and strength of the southwest. Through form and color, Rand creates enduring mountains, fluffy clouds floating in a brilliant blue sky, and the gritty textures of the earth. The people exhibit character, individuality, and pride. And the loving bond eloquently expressed in the text is also reflected in the profiles of the two seated figures surrounded by the glow of the campfire. Parents and grandparents should share this book, and then their own stories, with children. Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805054798
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 9/15/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 77,981
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Martin, Jr. (1916-2004) was an elementary-school principal, teacher, writer, and poet. His more than 300 books, among them the bestselling classics Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?; Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?; and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, are a testament to his ability to speak directly to children. Martin held a doctoral degree in early childhood education. Born in Kansas, he worked as an elementary-school principal in Chicago before moving to New York City, where he worked in publishing developing innovative reading programs for schools. After several years, he devoted himself full-time to writing his children’s books. He lived in New York until 1993, when he moved to Texas. He lived in the east Texas woods, near the town of Commerce, until he passed away in 2004.


John Archambault is a poet, journalist, and storyteller who has collaborated with Bill Martin Jr. and Ted Rand on several books, including Barn Dance! and The Ghost-Eye Tree.


Ted Rand (1915-2005) was a prolific artist whose illustrations appeared in several magazines and newspapers, as well as in numerous books for children. He collaborated with both Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault on many books, including Here Are My Hands.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2009


    One of my favorite read-alouds for young children second grade and up.

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