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The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman Paperback – September 13, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Meg Wolitzer is a New York Times bestselling, critically acclaimed novelist, as well as a voracious Scrabble player. She lives in New York with her husband and sons.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0780 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (September 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142422045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142422045
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This middle grades novel is told from three different points of view: Duncan, a 12-year-old from Pennsylvania; April, from Oregon; and Nate, from New York. All three have learned to play Scrabble extremely well: so well that they participate in the national Youth Scrabble Tournament in Florida. Each plays with a partner. Each plays for a different reason. April plays because she absolutely loves the game . . . and, she wants her sports-loving family to accept her talent as something worth cheering about. Nate plays because his father, Larry, forces him to. Twenty-six years earlier, Larry had also participated in the Youth Scrabble Tournament: he and his partner lost the championship round by one point. Now Larry acts as if his entire happiness depends on only one thing: Nate winning the championship.

Duncan, a new kid in his school, plays for another reason altogether. First, he thinks he's playing so that the other kids won't consider him a loser. A nobody. Then he thinks he's playing so that he can give his share of the winning team's money ($10,000 total) to his mother. But really, Duncan learns he's playing in order to do the right thing, not the wrong thing. And in order to learn who he really is.

This is a wonderful story, with strong, interesting 12-year-old heroes. The writing is also wonderful: smooth and funny. The story and writing remind me very much of the writing of E.L. Konigsburg. In addition to the superb story and commendable writing, there's a bonus: the reader picks up many tips for playing Scrabble. Highly recommended
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Format: Hardcover
Three 12-year-olds will eventually meet when they compete at the annual Youth Scrabble Tournament. Their stories, both separately and together, make for one delightful page-turner.

First up, we meet Duncan Dorfman, whose life has taken a downturn in spite of his newly discovered supernatural power, the one his mother earnestly urges him to keep secret because "If you don't, I'm afraid something bad will happen." Because Duncan's mom recently lost her job, she and Duncan moved back to Drilling Falls, Pennsylvania, the town in which she grew up. Duncan's great-aunt Djuna welcomed them into her house and managed to get Duncan's mom a job at the Thriftee Mike's Warehouse superstore. Unfortunately for Duncan, Aunt Djuna only cooks unappealing vegan fare.

Adding to his misery, his mom buys his clothes from her workplace, which means his wardrobe features shirts the exact hues of mustard, ketchup and relish. Duncan discovered his "power" just recently, when he found he could read through the fingertips of his left hand at will. For five miserable weeks at his new school, where he is mocked and ignored, he keeps his talent secret. But when he lets it slip to his only friend, bad boy Carl Slater overhears...and instantly believes Duncan's power is the way they will win the Youth Scrabble Tournament together. Duncan wants to play Scrabble and to be part of Carl's circle. He also knows his mother could certainly use the contest's prize money, yet he must wrestle with a moral quandary: If he uses his unique talent, is it cheating or not?

Way across the country in Portland, Oregon, April Blunt is planning how she and her best friend, Lucy, will win the Youth Scrabble Tournament.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really liked this book. It's great for the 8-12 year old set. It reminded me of a View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg, not just because it's the same idea of kids forming a friendship while preparing for a competition, but because the friendships are more important than the competition. I recommend it to parents to read with their kids or for kids who want to read about other kids or learn more about Scrabble.
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Format: Paperback
Duncan Dorfman learns that he has a "power" early on in this fun tale about a middle-school grader who's trying to fit in at a new school. Duncan can read text through his fingertips, and while he tries to keep it a secret at first, he decides to reveal his power at school as a way to make himself stand out. He soon draws the attention of the school's scrabble whiz, Carl, who begins to groom him as a scrabble partner thinking that Duncan's skills and power can help them win the Youth Scrabble Tournament held in Florida.

Duncan has to make a lot of difficult decisions, but is willing to do just about anything to go to the tournament with Carl. Carl's mother pays for the trip and asks Duncan to pay her back by serving as a model in a cigarette advertising campaign. Carl goes along with this, but soon his conscience starts to bother him and he wonders if he's doing the right thing. He decides to try to win the tournament without using his power, telling Carl that he'll use it only when it's absolutely necessary. But can he bring himself to cheat?

This is a well-written and enjoyable exploration of moral quandaries for middle-school aged children. I recommend it for adults who enjoy children's literature as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My son chose this book. He really enjoyed the story. The book held his interest throughout. The storyboard funny moments as well as moments that made him think. This was a good choice for him for his summer reading book.
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