Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Dulcimer Boy

The Dulcimer Boy
by Tor Seidler
Recommended Ages: 10+

Here is a touching, beautifully illustrated story that is probably best read on a rainy Saturday afternoon when you're feeling a tad melancholy. It begins when a man leaves twin boys, 10 months old, in a basket on his dead wife's sister's doorstep, along with a beautiful dulcimer - that flat, stringed instrument played with mallets. The Carbuncle family doesn't take very good care of the boys, the silent Jules and the musically gifted William.

When it seems they will take the dulcimer from him and sell it, William runs away with the instrument and seeks his fortune in a seaport, where he sings for his supper in a quayside inn. Soon sailors and fishermen fill the inn every night to hear William play. But William, filled with guilt about leaving his brother, only wants to go back.

How William gets free of the innkeeper's slavemaster-like clutches, what brings him back to his uncle and aunt's doorstep, and what becomes of the brothers after that, is stuff you must find out for yourself by reading this small masterpiece. Prepare to have your heart squeezed, and to have your mind's senses filled with vivid imagery.

This 1979 book, illustrated by Brian Selznick (now a successful author himself), was the first book by the author of A Rat's Tale, The Wainscott Weasel, Toes, and the National Book Award finalist Mean Margaret. Most recently, in 2015, Tor Seidler published a novel about wolves titled Firstborn.

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