A Tangle of Knots

Written by: Lisa Graff

Before Reading

Discuss Your Child's Talents.

Characters in this book are Talented or Fair, without a talent. Not every talent is contest-winning in A Tangle of Knots. Many of the characters' talents are pretty ordinary, like spitting or tying knots. Discuss talents with your child. Ask your child:

What talent do you have?

If you could have any talent, what talent would you enjoy most? Why?

Encourage your child to explore his/her own talents by thinking of occasions when (s)he has shown compassion, helped others, or encouraged someone, in addition to activities in which (s)he may excel.


Share thoughts about your own talents, or areas in which you know you're not so talented! 

Explore Cover and Publisher's Description

Check out the cover and publisher's description, and ask your child:

Have you read any other books by Lisa Graff? If so, what did you like about the way her characters’ lives interconnect?

What do you think the title and cover illustration reveal about the story inside? 

What do you think these knots have to do with a story about talents, family, and orphans?

As You Read

Read Headings

To help keep track of whose story is being told, make a point of reminding your child to read the headings at the beginning of each chapter. 

Use Your Imagination

Help your child to imagine the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and feelings in A Tangle of Knots by talking about what your child visualizes as s/he reads. One particularly descriptive passage is when Toby slams on the breaks in front of Miss Mallory's Home For Lost Girls, in Chapter 9. Ask your child:

What do you see? 

Can you describe that for me? What does that look like?

How does that make you feel? Help your child capture the mood by asking him/her if the passage seems light and happy, exciting, or suspenseful. 

If your child has a difficult time explaining what (s)he imagines, re-read the passage, asking your child to close his/her eyes. After you read a few lines, share what you see and imagine as you read the passage.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Discuss the story with your child. Start off your discussion with questions like:

Which character did you connect with the most? How is that character like you? How is that character different from you? 

If you could talk to any one of the characters, what would you ask him/her? What would you share? (Remind your child of times when (s)he had similar experiences or concerns as some of the characters. Maybe your child lost something important, like the Owner at the Emporium, or has been lost, like Will. What would (s)he want to ask these characters about their experiences or feelings in the same situations?)

The story is told from the view of many characters. How did this tangle of views help you learn about the tangle of knots that help bring the characters together? Point out episodes in each character’s story that reveal part of the overall story of Cady and how she came to be an orphan.

Activity: Practice Making Knots and Friends

Lots of Knots Friendship Bracelet (title picture 2).jpg

Research and practice knot-tying! There are many types of knot-making activities.Some crafts that use knot-tying include friendship bracelets, knitting, and tying flies for fly fishing. Here is a great how-to site for creating friendship bracelets that use many types of knots. Consider selecting colors for the bracelets that reflect the characters in the book. What would Cady's colors be?