by By Tor Seidler (Author), Brian Selznick (Illustrator)
Laura Geringer, 2003
Review by Victoria Suarez on Oct 21st 2003
The Dulcimer Boy by Tor Seidler is a
strange story. It has a very mystical quality about it. It tells the story of the life that two
orphaned brothers live after their mother dies and they are left with their
aunt and uncle.
The story takes place in a small New
England town. Wanting to
seem charitable even though they would have difficulty affording two more
children the aunt and uncle take in the two small boys. Along with the boys the only other object
that was delivered was an instrument called a dulcimer. As the boys’ William and Jules’ grow they
develop into odd children and are hidden in the attic. While in the attic Jules starts to withdraw
from the world around him despite attempts from his brother to keep him
involved. William during this time
becomes very interested in learning how to play the dulcimer and discovers that
he has both the talent to play and sing. The story takes a turn when the
Carbuncles’ fortune takes a turn for the worse.
They are forced to sell many of their antiques. The dulcimer is taken away from a distraught
William and is tagged for the sale. In
an attempt to reclaim the dulcimer and leave the house in the middle of the
night William breaks the family’s prize mahogany secretary and flees from the
house. William finds himself alone and
hungry in the city. The smell of food
lures him into an inn where he is tricked into signing a one year contract to
play his dulcimer. William is so
talented with his playing that soon there is standing room only in the small
inn. After a while his commitment
becomes more of a burden then a pleasure.
Hope is found when a sailor named Mr. Drake attends one of Williams
shows. This sailor turns out to be a
major person from William’s past. He
takes William many miles away in an attempt to help him find his way back home
to see how Jules has fared without him.
When they arrive at the home it turns out that the Carbuncles no longer
live there. They were forced to live in
a shack due to the lack of money.
William is reunited with his awful aunt and uncle’ and his brother Jules
who has been forced to clean chimneys for money. (Something that William will
be doing soon as well.) In the end it is
people from William’s journey that come to save him and Jules from their life
of ugliness and misfortune.
had an underlying mystery to it. Tor
Seidler pulls in his partiality with nature by having a flock of birds follow
William throughout his adventure. The Dulcimer Boy was originally
published in 1979 and is the book that gave Tor Seidler his debut as a
novelist. It is being reissued in this
deluxe new edition.
Born in Littleton’ New
Seidler grew up in Vermont and later’ Seattle’ Washington. (In both of these places his parents were involved in the
theater.) Encouraged by his family’s love of the arts’ Mr. Seidler studied
English literature at Stanford University’ and at the age of twenty-seven his first book’
The Dulcimer Boy’ was published’ launching his celebrated career as a
writer. Over the past twenty years’ Mr. Seidler has become one of the most important
voices in children’s fiction with such classics as’ A Rat’s Tale’ The
Wainscott Weasel’ an ALA Notable Book’ Terpin’ and Mean Margaret’ which was selected
as a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. He currently lives in New York City.
This well written book will lead
its readers on a mysterious and enchanting journey as William finds out who he
is and what his meaning in life is to be.
Children of all ages will enjoy and relate to The Dulcimer Boy. The
story line provides its reader with both excitement and interest as it leads
them along the twisting journey of a young boy.
Both sadness and enjoyment will be experienced through a young boy’s
eyes as he is forced to become a man by carrying burdens too large for a
child. His strength and endurance lead
him back home to save his young brother from a life of despair.
© 2003 Victoria Suarez
Victoria Suarez Education – BA in
Elementary Education from Saint Joseph’s
University. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Education at the
University of Stony Brook. Victoria
is a second grade teacher at the South
Country School District
located on Long Island. She enjoys reading, skiing and
spending time with her family.