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Knots on a Counting Rope

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  786 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
In this poignant story, the counting rope is a metaphor for the passage of time and for a boy's emerging confidence facing his greatest challenge: blindness. While classified as an Indian story, the love, hope, and courage expressed are universal.--Booklist, starred review. Full color.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 15th 1997 by Turtleback Books (first published October 15th 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Carolynne
This is a difficult book to review because on the one hand it is a moving and poetic account of a little boy's (formally named "By-Strength-of-Blue Horses") eagerly asking and prompting his grandfather to tell the story of the boy's own life, a story that, when it is completed, is marked by a knot on a counting rope. As the story is told, the boy's blindness is revealed, which makes more suspenseful the episode of a horse race among this boy and others. That is what makes the counting rope perti ...more
Kireja
I really liked the idea of storytelling, of the connection between grandfather and grandson, of passing wisdom and knowledge from one generation to another, of learning to live with and overcoming a disability, and of the strength of family. However, as an educator I found some aspects of this book problematic. I think that there are benefits in teaching multicultural literature but we need to be careful that we are not teaching and promoting stereotypes and inaccurate and inauthentic stories. T ...more
Nani Yanagi
This book is about Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses, who is told of his life story by his grandfather. When Boy was born, he was very sick and ill. His parents didn’t know if he was going to make it or not. His grandfather took him outside where two blue horses were running and stopped by to see this little boy. Boy reached out to touch them and his grandfather could feel the blue horses giving Boy the strength he needs to live. This is where he got his name. Boy had a connection with the blue horses ...more
Inge
Aug 08, 2016 Inge rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Does your library own this book? Time to weed it: https://web.archive.org/web/200803031...
June
Nov 13, 2014 June rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Native American, blind, physical disability requests
Recommended to June by: Reading Rainbow
A touching story of a grandfather and his blind grandson.
Timothy
Oct 18, 2016 Timothy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This books has a Grandfather telling his Grandson about the story of how he grew up. Each time he re-tells the story, he adds a knot to the rope. When there is no more room left to tie a knot, the boy will surely know the story by heart, and will no longer need his Grandfather to tell it to him.

Genre: Fictional Biography

Every child wants to know how they grew up, and this Grandfather tells of the short, but interesting life this boy has lived so far. He was born weak and frail, but with the bles
...more
Sharon
Nov 13, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I am aware of the other reviews and the negative opinions some hold of this story. I do not perceive Knots on a Counting Rope in the same light as others, because I do not share their same experiences. I have, however, experienced loss and the closeness shared with a treasured Grandparent.

After reading this story aloud, the tears are running down our faces.

"Tell me the story again, Grandfather. Tell me who I am..." And thus begins a magical tale of a Grandfather's love, perseverance in mids
...more
Sarah Gayman
Interesting narrative but not culturally authentic. Combines elements of various tribes treating American Indians as one culture rather than many separate cultures. Could be used as a way to analyze for cultural authenticity in the upper grades.
Kaitlyn Ramirez
Mar 05, 2015 Kaitlyn Ramirez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kaitlyn Ramirez:

Knots on a Counting Rope
By: Bill Martin Jr.

Knots on a Counting Rope is a story about a young Indian boy who was born on a stormy night on the Indian Reservation. When he was born Boy was very sick and frail, he didn’t open up his eyes until he met his brothers from the north, the horses. Something came over him that allowed him to smile for the first time it was then at a naming ceremony his grandfather named him, Boy Strength of Blue Horses, he was named after the two blue hors
...more
Paula Alejandra Londono-Martinez
This attractive book is a sample of the wise thinking of an indigenous community represented by the figure of the grandfather and his powerful grandson who possesses blindness. This story presents blindness as a quality and gift instead of as an obstacle to discovering unthinkable capabilities. Female and male roles within the tribe are represented to the reader as equal and complementary, knowledge is shared by both, the grandfather, and the woman leader in the tribe, but differently. The book ...more
David
Aug 10, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picturebooks
Knots on a Counting Rope (Reading Rainbow Book) by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, illustrated by Ted Rand is a poignant yet controversial story of a young blind Native American boy, with the counting rope used as a metaphor for both the passage of time and the emerging confidence of the boy.

The text is spare and poetic. It promotes confidence and belief in oneself. It also is postive in the value of storytelling and the bond between a grandson and grandfather.

The illustrations are evocative
...more
M.M. Hudson
Apr 13, 2016 M.M. Hudson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I generally do not read a summary of a book until after I have actually read the book. I am glad I did not do that with this particular book because it gave me the element of surprise.

This book features two Native American Indians, an elder, and his grandson, sitting around a campfire. The elder begins telling the story of the young boys birth and growth, a story that the grandson has heard many times but wishes it to be told again.

As the story progresses, the tale gets more fantastic. The boy g
...more
Paige Clarke
Knots on a Counting Rope is about a little boy who is blind and identifies with the Navajo Native American tribe. He and his grandfather are sitting around a campfire one night, when the boy asks his grandfather to tell him the story about when he was born. His grandfather claims to have already told him many times, but the boy insists on him telling it again. The story's message allows the boy to have courage and to be able to see with his "inward eye" or his heart. Despite the fact that his gr ...more
Kandace
Feb 08, 2009 Kandace rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-american
Knots on a Counting Rope was the book I chose from the not recommended list on Oyate. Sitting around a fire, a young blind boy listens to his grandfather tell the story of the night he was born. From the pictures, the reader assumes they are some type of Native American Indians. Yet, neither the illustrations or text offer any clue as to the specific Native culture. The story unfolds as a conversation written in a jarring and disruptive form. I was actually confused when reading this book. The b ...more
Ryley Christian
This book is about facing the challenges of being blind from the perspective of a little boy who is blind. The narrator, Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses, listens to his grandfather tell the story of his birth and his arising mental strength through his lifetime so far. With encouragement from his grandfather, Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses begins to feel confident that he will continue to succeed despite his disability.

The authors, Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, portray the courage of Boy-Stren
...more
Jazzmin
May 07, 2015 Jazzmin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-reads
There was such a melting pot of feelings of melancholy, joy, and hope for me as I read this endearingly amazing story. This is such an incredible book in its ability to move and the wonder and culture it possesses, along with the authorship that comes into play within its glorious pages, pages which hold such lyrical, impressively old-world words... a dialogue between a grandfather and grandson. This story also communicates so genuinely the spirit and heart of Native American culture, the connec ...more
Bernice
Oct 01, 2009 Bernice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book aloud with my students with another classroom teacher, as well as played the CD version of the story.

This story is written in a dialogue between a young boy and his grandfather. They remember and retell the story of the young boy's birth and upbringing becoming a young horse rider. It's a touching story of the boy learning about the world while facing the limitation of being blind. As the chapter mentions, this book demonstrates how good literature presents characters with some
...more
Mistiemae1 Downs
First a word of caution: One visit to the reviews of this book on Goodreads should warn you that it is not appropriate for teaching multiculturalism. Please be aware of this and take whatever action necessary to educate the children you're reading to/with according to their age and development.

With that out of the way, my children and I found Knots on a Counting Rope to be a beautiful and moving story. Perhaps you've experienced the eagerness of a child to hear the story of their birth and grow
...more
Tony Ruiz
Apr 22, 2010 Tony Ruiz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knots On A Counting Rope – Bill Martin Jr.
Grade: 3-5
Pages: 32
Theme: Native Americas, Disability, Overcoming Challenges
Genre: Traditional Literature
Response: Maybe its something about Native American books and dark settings, tone's, and colors, but again, another I enjoyed reading. I thought the illustrations were dark but enchanting, and helped build around the story telling around the fire. I also think this would be a great book for students with special needs, in particular those who are vis
...more
Michelle
Literary Device: Foreshadowing/Metaphor. Even though the story has been told many times, Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses begs his grandfather to tell about the young boy’s birth and the horse race he lost. In this story of love and courage, the counting rope is a metaphor for the passage of time.

I love Native American stories that depict the art of storytelling. I also love these types of stories because they highlight the relationships between extended family members.

My family delights in telling t
...more
Kristina Moss
This narrative tells about a young boy who begs his grandfather to retell him the story about the day he was born. The story is written in dialogue from both the boy and the grandfather in whom they talk about the adventures of the little boy’s horseback riding and his difficulties that come along with him being blind. The author, Bill Martin Jr, captures the dialogue of both the young boy and grandfather in a sentimental and heart felt way. As a teacher, I will use this text to educate my stude ...more
Janelle
Jun 06, 2008 Janelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janelle by: LeVar Burton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica Tucker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
Jan 31, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: january
I know that there are a lot of reviews complaining about the historical inaccuracies of this book, but as someone coming in who does not know much about the history behind this, I found this book to be really beautiful. I especially loved the illustrations and how each highlighted a brilliant feature of the scenery. I also loved the relationship between the boy and his grandfather. I got the vibe that they share a special bond. I thought that that aspect of it was very nice. The formatting of th ...more
Dolly
Aug 05, 2011 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
We borrowed this book from our local library as part of a kit with an audiocassette. We enjoyed listening to the book narrated while we followed along with the book. I thought the story was a nice one, about a young boy who asks his grandfather yet one more time about the story of his birth and a retelling of an exciting horse race. I see here that the book has received scathing reviews about its inauthenticity and its characterization of Native Americans. I don't know about that, but I do know ...more
Miriam Garcia

The story, told by the grandfather, of the birth of a young boy and his adventures growing up. This book could be used to teach about the Native American culture. Since the story mentions the importance of names and describes one of the ways that Native Americans may choose names for their children, a classroom activity could be to have student write about how they got their name. I like this story because it shows strong family bonds that are often associated with the Native American Culture. S
...more
John Sullivan
I enjoyed this book, but thought that the main character was a bit unrealistic, and quite frankly annoying. The authors could have done a better job of writing this story so as to make Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses more likeable and strong-willed; I found the boy's constant interrupting and questioning distracting. However, the telling of the boy's incredible life, considering the fact that he is blind, made for an interesting plot that has the ability to teach a lesson. I would have this story av ...more
Maria
Jun 09, 2008 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few picture books that brings tears to my eyes when I read it. It's a beautifully nuanced story that manages to be about relationships, culture, disability, and time without being preachy. The narrative is unusual because it is a dialogue between a grandfather and his grandson. They are reminiscing about important events in the boy's life. The pictures are fantastic; especially the play between light and shadow. A number of the pictures are at night illuminated only by a fire. ...more
Kate Hastings
Jul 24, 2012 Kate Hastings rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Elementary. This book concerns me. It is very popular in the education world-- written and illustrated by two very reputable names in children's literature. Although well-intentioned, this book is offensive to native peoples (See the Oyate site), and unless you are a part of the culture you might not know it. The main problems: costume is not unique to any one tribe-- very general in grouping Native tribes together--and not appropriate, along with some of the imagery and behavior. There are bett ...more
Christian Padgett
This is a great story to use with children to segue into a discussion of different heritages. In this story, a grandfather and grandson are sitting by a fire. The grandson wants the grandfather to tell him a story but the grandfather tells the young man that he knows the story; although he tells him again. The grandfather tells about how his grandson needs to learn the story on his own for he is not always going to be around. This book can be used for inference and prediction as well as talking ...more
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5086768
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 ...more
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