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The Dulcimer Boy Hardcover – June 3, 2003

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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A New Class (Star Wars: Jedi Academy #4)
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8-First published in 1979 (Viking; o.p.) for adults, Seidler's early-20th-century New England fairy tale receives an inspired pictorial resurrection by Selznick. Tracing the footsteps of musically gifted William Carbuncle from his arrival on his uncaring uncle's doorstep in a box containing him, his brother, and a silver-stringed dulcimer, the story follows William's escape and journey south. Tricked by an innkeeper into a year's servitude, he spends his days plotting his brother's rescue and his nights playing sorrowful love songs of the sea to drunken sailor crowds. Liberation soon appears in the guise of a fictional New York City mayor, and William finally frees his brother from servitude and gains his own independence. Though Dulcimer Boy is without traditional fairy-tale elements, magic instead is portrayed as artistic accomplishment, inspiration, and drive. And, Seidler's simple yet eloquent prose likens William's plight to a caged songbird, cleverly weaving the hero's physical dilemma and pursuit of artistic creativity into the novel's rising tension. Selznick's detailed sense of light and shadow shines as his soft-textured acrylic paintings not only echo the novel's overall poetic melancholy, but also serve as integral pieces of the plot itself. This fusion of fantastic storytelling and engaging illustrations makes Dulcimer Boy an exciting and inspirational work that will be read, both alone and aloud, and remembered.
Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Born in Littleton, New Hampshire, Tor Seidler grew up in Vermont and later, Seattle, Washington, in both of which places his parents were involved in the theater. Encouraged by his family's love of the arts, Mr. Seidler studied English literature at Stanford University, and at the age of twenty-seven his first book, The Dulcimer Boy, was published, launching his celebrated career as a writer.

Over the past twenty years, Mr. Seidler has become one of the most important voices in children's fiction with such classics as, A Rat's Tale, The Wainscott Weasel, an ALA Notable Book, Terpin, and Mean Margaret, which was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. He currently lives in New York City.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066236096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066236094
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,951,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In an eerie world where people have cold and hard hearts, twin baby boys are left at the doorstep of their uncle's house. They grow up into odd boys and are kept hidden from the world because of their strangeness. The only thing they have from their parents is a dulcimer. The dulcimer has a powerful attraction for William, the stronger of the twins, and he decides to take the wonderful instrument and flee. This is a dark, almost gothic story, where cruelty to children is commonplace. In a Dickensian world, where orphaned youngsters are thrown away or used for profit, William and his lonely little brother seem to be the pawns of chance.
True to the Dickensian model, a stranger steps in to help the boys in their time of need, and we are relieved to have a happy ending.
Tor Seidler has infused small pieces of wry humor into his story, which adds to the weird nature of the book. For example, the horrible aunt and uncle are called Mr. and Mrs. Carbuncle. A carbuncle can be a gem, but it can also be a terrible sore. There is one aspect of the story that is puzzling: How can William leave his poor, defenseless brother in the home of his cruel aunt and uncle? How can he abandon Jules, a boy who does not speak and who is so frail and ill? There is a magical and ethereal quality to William, an almost spirit-like element to his personality. Yet, at the same time, he is heartless enough to leave his brother behind.
THE DULCIMER BOY is a disturbing book that left me feeling more than a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it is a masterfully written tale with powerful imagery. Seidler has written a book that is deeply moving, thought provoking, and will appeal to many different kinds of readers.
--- Reviewed by Marya Jansen-Gruber
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Format: Hardcover
I'm giving this three stars for the strength of the writing, not the story.

Regarding the writing, it was splendid, strong, very textual. However, not much happened in this book, and when I finished it I had many questions. I'm unsure of how many questions I should share in this review, because, unlike other reviewers who lay out entire plotlines, I find that to be a betrayal.

The biggest question I had was this: why in the world did William leave Jules? He loved his brother immensely; that was made clear. I have tried to get my mind around that, tried to understand what the author was attempting to communicate with that, but I can't come up with it. There isn't a chance in the world that I would have left my brother, who couldn't speak, alone with the absolutely miserable, horrible people that they were forced to live with. And they were horrid. Horrid!

I need to speak to another question. The two boys, William and Jules, were left on the porch of their aunt and uncle by, who turns out to be, their father. I'm not giving anything away here, because frankly it doesn't turn out to be any great surprise and has absolutely no significance (which is a detriment to the story), and the father, frankly, shows himself for being an idiot. He actually thought his children would be better off with the Carbuncles, who were awful, horrible people. I do admit that giving them the name Carbuncle was quite clever - carbuncle is defined as a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria. That fairly well sums up the Carbuncles. Carbuncle also has a second meaning, referring to a gem, but that does not play into this story whatsoever.
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Format: Paperback
Can't add to the breathless reviews here. Even in 1979 wasn't the tale of the put-upon orphan old? The harridan who cleans too much? The snide, hypocritical "adoptive" uncle? ,

The characters do not ring true. I can find no reason for the brother to abandon the other, and (as in so many orphan books) can see no reason they turn out to be nice people when raised by cliches of nastiness.

If you like Tale of Despereaux, another tale wherein mindless, contrived suffering is romanticized, you'll love this.
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