Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Tangle of Knots

A Tangle of Knots

Lisa Graff
For ages 9 to 12
Penguin, 2013   ISBN: 978-0399255175

Cady arrived at Miss Mallory’s Home for Lost Girls when she was just a little girl. What is unusual is that she is still there, years later. This is very odd because Miss Mallory had a Talent for finding homes for the orphaned girls she takes in. Somehow she is always able to pair the girls with just the right people. She has no idea why her Talent has not worked for Cady.

   Then one foggy day a truck drives right onto the lawn at the orphanage during an Adoption Day Party, and when Toby steps out of the vehicle, Miss Mallory knows at once that he is the person for Cady. She invites Toby to have a piece of the Adoption Day cake Cady has made, and soon after Cady leaves the orphanage to live at the Lost Luggage Emporium where Toby lives and works.

   Cady is quite happy with Toby though she cannot understand why she cannot figure out what Toby’s cake is. Cady’s Talent is that she is a superlative baker, and when she meets a person she can always tell what kind of cake that person likes best. For some reason she cannot quite put her finger on what Toby’s cake is. Toby is keeping a part of himself a secret and Cady has no idea what that secret is.

   The Emporium is also home to the Owner, a secretive man whose has the ability to steal other people’s Talents. The Owner has been searching for something for fifty-three years and the search has turned him into a brittle, nasty, mean old man. He never guesses that his search will soon be over.

   The Ashers also live at the Emporium. They had to move there when a hot air balloon crashed into the wall of their apartment. Young Marigold Asher is looking for her Talent, and she is very much afraid that she is never going to develop one. This is hard for her to accept because everyone in her family has a Talent. Little Will has a Talent for disappearing, Mrs. Asher has a Talent for knitting, Mr. Asher has a paper folding Talent, and Zane’s Talent is that he can spit with deadly accuracy. Again and again Marigold tries to figure out what her Talent is. She cannot bear the thought that she might spend the rest of her life a Fair, a person who has no magical Talent. She never imagines that she can have a profound effect on the world being exactly who she is.

   Zane Asher does not have a very high opinion of his Talent. Talents are supposed to be useful or helpful, and his Talent does not help him stay out of trouble. His entire life trouble has dogged every step he takes. Now his mischief making has caught up with him and he might be out of second chances. Little does he know that his very own mother carries the weight of a secret wrongdoing on her shoulders. Long ago she did something that was wrong and she has never shared her secret with anyone.

   In this memorable, engaging, and unique book, the author weaves together the stories of several people. In the beginning readers have no idea how these people might be connected, but with every passing chapter the threads of their stories start to come together. Full of gentle humor and wisdom, the narrative shifts from character to character until, at last, we see how they are linked.