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The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  785 ratings  ·  192 reviews
At first glance, Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano don't seem to have much in common. Duncan is trying to look after his single mom and adjust to life in a new town while managing his newfound Scrabble superpower - he can feel words and pictures beneath his fingers and tell what they are without looking. April is pining for a mystery boy she met years ago and s ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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Duncan is a social outcast who doesn't have much going for him. He and his mother just moved to Drilling Falls, PA after she lost her job in their old town. Now they live with his aunt, and she works at Thriftee Mike's. Duncan sits at the outcasts table and tries to stay un-noticed, but when he shows his secret talent to his one friend, the ability to read with his fingertips, the school bully and Scrabble champion notices, and wants Duncan on his team for the Youth Scrabble Tournament (YST).

This book entered my life in a timely manner, as I've been cheating my way through several games of Words with Friends. The type of sporting book I can really get behind.
Years ago a friend donated a copy of a book to the library in which I worked. This book was supposed to boost SAT scores by giving students access to the "15-cent word" vocabulary they'd need in context, so all over the pages were words underlined to indicate HERE IS AN SAT WORD. Oddly enought, no one every borrowed this book, even those avidly preparing for the exams. Why do I mention this? Because this book feels the same to me: let's get kids into Scrabble, fitting a story in around lists of ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Beth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014, kids
I would almost give this three stars, but I just couldn't. I liked the characters and I appreciated that everyone had different motivations for wanting to win the Scrabble tournament. I was also interested in finding out who would win in the end.

So my first problem is that Duncan's super power was basically pointless. It was a plot device to make Carl want to be his partner, but other than that served no real purpose. In a book with no other elements of fantasy, it just didn't fit. Second, the c
This is a great book about a boy with a "power" for knowing what's written on a page(or a Scrabble tile)simply by touching it. Another boy wants to harness the power, by making him his teammate at a national Scrabble tournament. Duncan meets many new friends who are participating in the tournament for their own various reasons, some not so willingly, and he has to determine whether his desire to win is worth the guilt of cheating against these worthy competitors. The assorted stories of the char ...more
This book is about a series of kids who compete in a national tournament. Each kid has their own little subplot. Nate is forced to play by his dad, who lost at a former Scrabble tournament. April is looking for a kid she met years ago at a pool on vacation who loved Scrabble. And Duncan has a special power that he can read words using only his fingertips. The book was extremely fast paced, and as a Scrabble fan, I enjoyed all the trivia and references. As a teen novel, it wasn't that dramatic, a ...more
I’ve always gravitated to children’s books about characters with extraordinary powers. I’m not talking about the iconic Batman and Superman. I love reading about kids who are somewhat nerdy but have a special talent. Now I can add The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman to my list of favorite "power" novels such as Savy, Powerless and The Trouble with Jenny's Ear. Duncan is faced with moral choices as to when to use his ability to feel letters beneath his fingertips. The group of new friends he makes a ...more
Maybe it's just my love of (or obsession with) playing Words With Friends, but I really enjoyed this book about six kids and their adventures in the world of Scrabble tournaments. They are each there for different reasons, each searching for something different, that they may or may not be able to find through Scrabble. I enjoyed reading how they found things to appreciate in each other, no matter how different they all seemed at first. I know exactly which Scrabble-loving 6th grader I am going ...more
This novel is about scrabble. It includes all of the two letter words that are legal, and how to make a bingo and what a bingo bango bongo is. So if you are interested in scrabble, and word games, this book is for you. Not that you have to love scrabble. I don't love it, and am easily intimidated by other players who are. But I enjoyed this book because the three teams who face off at the Youth Scrabble Tournament are all from different parts of the country, with different family problems, and q ...more
Craig Pittman
An entertaining YA novel that manages to dramatize playing Scrabble (no easy task) as well as deal with some serious daddy issues. Read this aloud to my kids as a bedtime book and they got a big kick out of it, particularly the part where the contestants are (almost) all stuck in a dark, damp theme park ride and one young one shouts out, "I have to urinate!"
so far so good, my daughter is only a couple chapters in but she is likeing it :)

My daughter loved it, she says that people who like words, and scrable in particular would love this book. We played a few games of scrabble ourselves while she read it! For either boys or girls, some of it is quiet funny. She says she thinks it is for 8-12 year olds. She recommends it for sure.
Wolitzer scores a triple word bonus with her first novel for young readers.The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman follows three, mostly ordinary 12-year olds competing in the National Youth Scrabble Tournament. Everyone has their own unique reason for playing scrabble and wanting to win. A lot of fun and vocabulary-building to boot!
Addison Children
I was bored, but If you need a source for all the two letter Scrabble acceptable words, they are in this book. Duncan is the new kid in school and gains acceptance with one of the popular kids because Duncan can "read" with the fingertips of his left hand. This is nice parlor trick to be sure, but super useful when digging through a bag of letter tiles while playing Scrabble. And so there are three kind of close up stories from three of the teams competing in the Youth Scrabble Tournament. By be ...more
Mrs. Nelson's
Another wonderful adult author whose foray into kid lit is a rousing success! Wolitzer's fresh, quirky adventure reminded me of "The View From Saturday", while still remaining unique. I couldn't put it down!
--Review by Lauren
Misfit middle-schooler makes a place for himself, against the backdrop of the Youth Scrabble Tournament. The writing and plot are admittedly uneven, but this book has a good heart and we enjoyed reading it.
Cathy Blackler
Scrabble lovers, fans of the underdog, and those who loved The View from Saturday and The Wednesday Wars will love Wolitzer's story about the power of believing in yourself.
Well-crafted story, great Scrabble detais (why no nod to Stefan Fatsis's Word Play?)and finely drawn characters make this a page-turning winner.
Charlyn  Trussell
**Note: review of ARC. Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano live faraway from one another and have one thing in common: they are all bright children who will compete in the national Scrabble competition held in Florida and each has a special reason for being in the competition.

Duncan Dorfman is drafted to go when major competitor Carl Slater realizes that Duncan has a gift which will give him an edge in the competition: Duncan can read with his fingertips--and we're not talking about B
Chris Holliman
You may not think that a book about Scrabble would keep you turning the pages, but Meg Wolitzer’s The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman kept me engaged.

Duncan and his mother have just moved across the country to Drilling Falls, Pennsylvania to live with Aunt Djuna. Just as he is settling into his new school, Duncan discovers that he has a secret power: his left hand is able to read the words and pictures on a page just by moving his fingers across them. When school bully and hardcore Scrabble player
Duncan Dorfman has magic fingertips; they allow him to read anything he touches without looking. He has just moved to a new town with his single-parent mom and wants to fit in. Unfortunately he has the nickname of Lunch Meat and wears shirts the color of condiments. Then he shows his power to Carl, the youth scrabble champion. Carl immediately recruits Duncan to play scrabble and forces his to use his power. April is from a family of sports fanatics, but she only loves Scrabble. Her family doesn ...more
Stacy Ford
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm a little stumped by this book and how to rate it.

The story revolves around the lives of three 12 year old kids who each live in different parts of the country. What brings them together is the National Scrabble tournament held in Florida. Each child is playing the game for different reasons and we come to know them bit by bit. The main character is Duncan Dorfman who happens to have an unusual talent for feeling words with the fingertips of his left hand (without looking at it). A handy tri
The story was slow to start...but once the characters arrived in Florida for the Scrabble tournament, things picked up. The author did a good job of integrating the story lines and I hope she will revisit these characters in a sequel!

"At first glance, Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano don't seem to have much in common. Duncan is trying to look after his single mom and adjust to life in a new town while managing his newfound Scrabble superpower - he can feel words and pictures beneath
Kelly Hager
Duncan has this weird power---when he touches something with his hand, he can tell what it says without looking. Not surprisingly, he's quickly drafted to be in a Scrabble tournament. (It would come in VERY handy to be able to know what tiles you're grabbing before it's too late.) When he and his Scrabble partner, Carl, arrive in Florida, he meets April and Nate. April's a huge Scrabble freak and Nate is there because his dad lost the tournament 26 years ago and thinks Nate is his chance to rede ...more
I LOVE Scrabble, but even if the sight of little wooden letter tiles doesn't bring a grin to your face as it does to mine I think there's more oh so much more to love about this book anyway. Duncan Dorfman is the new kid in school and isn't well liked, but he has a gift. The fingertips of his left hand can "read" text. With his eyes closed and never having read the text before, Duncan can read an entire book using only the fingertips of his left hand! This special talent catches the attention of ...more
Naomi Schmidt
I must have liked this book, since I stayed up late to finish it (although I told myself that it was just because there was so little left, it would be silly to leave it until morning), but there were a lot of things about it that bothered me. First off, a quote on the back of the book (from an author who I greatly respect, nonetheless), refers to Meg Wolitzer's "polished prose," and yet I found the prose far from polished. The text often seemed clunky and awkward; the story did not flow smoothl ...more
I really enjoyed this one. You totally can't judge it on what the "fingertips" of Duncan might or might not be able to do because that part is a little weird.

And it's not just about Duncan. Several other characters add to the story.

Really ... it's all about middle school kids (but could be read by like 4th and up) finding their way. Being able to make their own choices, accepting their own choices, and discovering that others sometimes don't make the best choices. And sometimes you still accept
Lovers of Scrabble, collectors of odd words and anagrams, and fans of the underdog will love this book. Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano, three smart kids from different backgrounds and different parts of the country, have at least one thing in common: They all play Scrabble, and head to a national Scrabble team tournament in Florida. Duncan moves to a new town after his mother loses her job, and ends up being labeled "Lunch Meat" when someone in the cafeteria throws a slice of bolo ...more
Wooden Horse
Once I got into this book it was a fairly quick read. The beginning was kind of slow and keeping track of the 6 main characters was a little troublesome as I tend to read several books at once and I wasn't entirely sure where the story was going. The "supporting cast" of parents also have quite a bit to do with the story which didn't help me with trying to keep everyone straight.
Although intersting I found devoting 4 pages to the two-letter word list rather pointless. Maybe because I already ha
Rhiannon Ryder
One of the highlights of the BEA this past year, for me anyhow, has been how many books I walked away with which turned out to be pretty damn fun. Books I hadn't heard of before the expo, but sounded like they had enough potential to merit being packed and flown home, and which rocked my socks off once I got around to picking them off the bookshelf.

One of these was the Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, Meg Wolitzer's first children's book. Meg pitched FDD at the speed dating for YA and children's au
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Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Ten-Year Nap and seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife . Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.

Author photo copyright Deborah Copaken.
More about Meg Wolitzer...
The Interestings Belzhar The Ten-Year Nap The Uncoupling The Wife

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