Rhiannon Ryder's Reviews > The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer
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's review
Feb 03, 2012

really liked it

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 authors, and I was pretty smitten. Enough so that I stood around in line to nab a copy of the book (signed of course) because I was pretty sure I wanted to know more about Duncan, April and Nate.

April, Nate and Duncan are National Youth Scrabble Tournament bound. April is the only geek in a house full of jocks just trying to be recognised, Nate is being gruelingly home schooled to win, and redeem his fathers loss at the tournament when he was Nate's age, and Duncan has just fallen into scrabble, magic fingertips and all. Will Duncan use his fingertips to cheat and win? Will April's family finally acknowledge Scrabble is a sport? Or will Nate win and get his dad off his back once and for all?

A super lighthearted read, the Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman was a lot of fun- even for a non-scrabble player like myself. The three unlikely friends, their team mates and various opponents were a great smorgasbord of characters, throw in a couple of disgruntled adults and you have a wild big cast of trouble. I liked how Meg, for all that she's usually a writer of adult fiction, really nailed the mix of fantasy, crazy and down right every day which makes this book work for younger readers as well as the older. Nate's dads obsession with his loss ends up being as wacky and fantastical as Duncan's all knowing fingertips, and the Scrabble tournament is one of those perfect settings for it all to go down in.

I was impressed about the lengths to which Scrabble was explained as well. A lot of teaching about the game was tied into the story along the way, and although you would think this would be tedious, it surprisingly wasn't. Double, triple and word scores were lovingly described and listed along with hosts of other scrabvle hole in ones. By the end of the story I was wishing the book had come with a game board so I could give it a try.

An enjoyable story that may very well inspire the as yet unknown scrabble player in you, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman would make an awesome gift along with a scrabble board. But since I already have the book you can just give me the scrabble board, k?

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