In The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman (Penguin Group, 256 pp., for readers ages 8-12), bestselling adult novelist Meg Wolitzer brings together an unlikely collection of young characters at – of all things – the Youth Scrabble Tournament. A homeschooled skateboarder, a girl on a quest to find the mystery boy she met once on a family vacation, a rich bully – all they have in common is Scrabble.
Then there’s Duncan, an ordinary kid living with his single mom. Duncan “didn’t have any passions, let alone any powers.” Then one night he surprises even himself with his magic fingertips, which could propel him from geekdom to desirable Scrabble partner.
A budding romance and an absent father may speak more to the older end of the middle-grade group, but there’s plenty of kid-friendly humor, adventure, and excitement in Wolitzer’s first foray into writing for this age group. In the end, Duncan and his Scrabble-playing friends make the right, ethical choices and mostly have fun along the way.