The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer

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I want to play Scrabble or Bananagrams. In fact, I think Meg Wolitzer’s new middle grade novel, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, should be packaged with a word game because, after reading the book, it’s hard to stop thinking about letters and anagrams. In fact, as I typed the word “letters,” I realized it could be “settler.”

Duncan Dorfman is a twelve-year-old boy with a superpower. He can “read” letters under his fingers which makes him, as you can imagine, a good partner when selecting letters for a game of Scrabble. April Blunt wants her family to recognize that Scrabble can be a competitive sport. And Nate Saviano wants to stop playing Scrabble.  When the three kids meet at a youth scrabble tournament, they become competitors and friends.  It’s a really fun book, one that I’ll recommend to my 5th and 6th grade students, especially the ones who enjoy playing with words.  There are a couple of plot points that feel totally unbelievable, especially one about Duncan’s deceased father. That aside, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman is a charming and smart book.  The best parts are about the intricacies of Scrabble. I had no idea there are so many two-letter words.  Here are a few that are new to me: em, el, and ka.  Don’t ask. I haven’t looked them up.

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