I am Reading This So Hard Right Now: A Tangle of Knots

You know the drill. Here’s a book that I like but refuse to summarize for you. 

I am going to be straight up with you all. Since I’ve become a halfsies Young Adult librarian, I’ve gone from reading YA books on the DL to totally and unabashedly submerging myself in juicy, angsty teen paperbacks full time. I need to ease myself back into reading Juvenile Fiction, but, insert low raspy whine here. Meh. I just have way too much fun in the world of YA fiction. I need to be a better Children’s Librarian and hop back on the bandwagon.

To be honest, the last J Fic book I truly enjoyed was A Tale Dark and Grimm. I’ve been in a rut ever since then.

One of my 6,000 supervisors mentioned a good magic realism book called A Tangle of Knots. Magic realism really is my favorite flavor of book, and this one had a nice Holes/Golden Compass/Rebecca Stead quality to it, but definitely veering towards the light and cozy side. Also, I very much enjoy reading about cake. More books should talk about cake.

I love a book that seamlessly unravels, revealing coincidences and puzzle pieces perfectly interlocking. I think it’s a kind of cleverness that children appreciate, too. Here’s a little snippet of this gem by Lisa Graff:


Will’s mother liked to say that Will had a Talent for getting lost. But in all his six years, Willard Asher had never once been lost. How could he be lost when he always knew exactly where he was?

At that very moment, for example, Will was inside the walls of the Ashers’ apartment building, navigating with the help of an outmoded dumbwaiter that no one but him probably knew existed anymore.

“Today’s the day,” he told his ferret, Sally, as he tugged at the dumbwaiter’s chain, hand over hand, pulling the two of them slowly down through the walls of the building…”We’re going to find an adventure today, I just know it.”

Will and Sally searched for an adventure together nearly every day. They knew exactly what adventure looked like because of the storybooks Will read. Giants. Monsters. Cake. That was what the knights in storybooks always found on their adventures.

Well, Will had added the cake part himself, but it really did belong in any good adventure. 

That was when he heard the noise. Although it was less of a noise and more of a flip-you-on-your-head-pound-your-pancreas-to-pudding sort of tumult. The crash shook the whole floor, the whole apartment. It had come from the living room, where Zane had been reading.

Will and Sally reached the living room at the same moment as Marigold. “What was that noise?” she asked. “What happ–”

At first Will didn’t understand what could possibly make his sister freeze in the middle of the sentence like that. At first, all Will noticed was Zane, sitting silently in the armchair, his face white with terror, his eyes round and unblinking.

And then, of course, Will noticed the rest of it.

Where just minutes earlier there had been a living room wall with a wide window, now there was nothing. Only swirls of fog. Zane sat before the enormous gaping hole, clutching the chair’s armrests so tightly, his knuckles were purple…

Will dropped to his belly for a closer look, his nose dangling over the edge as he gazed down, down, down into the fog. “It looks like…” he said slowly, not quite sure he believed his own eyes, “…a hot air balloon.”

…It was a hot hair balloon, smashed to bits on the sidewalk twelve stories below. The basket was crumbled, the red-and-blue striped bag ripped and deflated. The passengers were nowhere to be seen. Cars were honking, a passerby with a ruined bag of groceries was cursing at the sky. But as far as Will could make out, nothing had been damaged besides the Ashers’ living room wall.

It wasn’t quite and adventure, but it sure was something.

~~A Tangle of Knots, by Lisa Graff, pgs. 47-50

A Tangle of Knots would be a fantastic book club selection. Almost everyone in Graff’s universe has a Talent with a capital T, which is to me sort of reminiscent of the daemons in The Golden Compass. Some people are expert knitters or whistlers and others have Talents that are absolutely sinister. Some folks have no Talent at all, which has its own appeal. I think children would enjoy discussing the merits and disadvantages of certain Talents. It’s also fun to fantasize about what you wish your Talent would be (I, for example, would like to rock some sort of Hermione time-turner ability).

This book has everything: cake recipes, dinosaur bones, and enough mystery and intrigue to keep the readers guessing. Look for it in February of 2013.

What school age chapter books have you been enjoying? Help a sister out.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

4 thoughts on “I am Reading This So Hard Right Now: A Tangle of Knots

  1. i actually came over to say thanks to you for posting the info on the book drive – we were able to ship off 32 pounds of young children’s books last week! (NYPL won’t take donations any more so we had these books building up for ages.)

    But also, there are some good books in the J section — I have read tons in that section in the last couple years as I have to pre-read for my precocious reader. I wouldn’t know what to suggest though, since I would think you’ve read most of it? But here’s a few off the top of my head — Fly By Night and Fly Trap were great; the Spook’s Apprentice series is fun (intense and a bit violent). Patricia Wrede’s new Frontier Magic books are good. The Theodosia books were enjoyed by all of us. We all liked Winterling and the Scorpions of Zahar. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making and the sequel whose name I can’t remember. Icefall, Wizard of Dark Street, the Flint Heart. The WondLa books. Wait, this is so not a few! Sorry! I also only vaguely remember but know my girl loved Prairie Evers, the Magic Half and the Emmy and the Rat books. And….that was what i could remember from recent months. Yoiks!

    1. First of all, thanks for your donations! You’re obvz a total superstar. Thank you! I’ll check your suggestions. Don’t you love Emmy and the Rat? The flip cartoon seals the deal for every kid who I show it to.

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