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.