Dicey's Song

by Cynthia Voigt

Hardcover, 1982



Local notes

Fic Voi





Atheneum (1982), 196 pages. $14.95.


Now that the four abandoned Tillerman children are settled in with their grandmother, Dicey finds that their new beginnings require love, trust, humor, and courage.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

196 p.; 5.75 x 0.77 inches

Media reviews

Children's Literature
Ann Philips (Children's Literature) In the second book of Voigt's "Tillerman family" cycle, Dicey and her younger brothers and sister settle in with their grandmother on a stark homestead by the Chesapeake Bay. Their mother remains unresponsive in a Boston psychiatric hospital. Dicey is confused
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about where she fits into the family now that Gram has taken over responsibility for the youngsters, but she soon learns that the family still needs her resourcefulness and solid good sense. Dicey and Gram steady one another as each reaches out, breaking Tillerman tradition. Gram is a hard, proud woman who has lived to regret her isolation and the scattering of her children. Gram makes overtures to town folk and her world expands. Dicey tries to remain aloof at school, but neither Jeff the musician nor the forceful Mina relents until Dicey allows them into her circle of caring. In her spare time, Dicey is restoring a derelict sailboat, meticulously sanding down layers of old paint. Metaphorically, her emotional defenses wear away as she slowly opens to hope, friendship, expressive writing, and finally to an acceptance of her mother's death. When Gram and Dicey bring her mother's ashes home, the broken family is nearly healed. Written in fine, spare prose, this outstanding Newbery Medal winner belongs in every school and community library collection. Readers will be eager to pick up the rest of the series. 2003 (orig. 1982), Aladdin/Simon and Schuster, $5.99. Ages 10 to 14.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member foggidawn
In Homecoming, brave, resourceful Dicey, brainy James, sweet Maybeth, and stubborn Sammy made their way to a place that they all can call home. In Dicey's Song, the children are learning their way in a new place, and it's not an easy transition for any of them. And then, of course, there's Momma,
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who is at a hospital far away in New England, who may never get better. Dicey and her siblings have found a home, but now they have to find a way to be, to belong.

I've loved these books for years. The story of the Tillerman family is so rich, so bittersweet. Voigt just nails it on so many levels: the interactions between the characters, the way she describes the setting, the descriptions of food and music and simple pleasures. These are books that I can revisit again and again.
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LibraryThing member universehall
This is the immediate sequel to Voigt's other novel, The Homecoming. The Homecoming was a superb novel about an abandoned group of siblings searching for a home. Unfortunately, possibly due to my high expectations set by the first book, I found this sequel to be a bit lacking. (It confuses me that
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this book was highly-lauded and award winning. I can't explain that.)

The main problem with this book is that it simply didn't have much of a plot. The children experience some difficulty settling into their new life.... and that's about the extent of it. Some minor drama develops a bit of the way down the line - but nothing that leaves you with a sense that it won't be easily resolved or dealt with.

I won't tell you not to read this book, especially not if you enjoyed the first one and are interested in finding out what happened to the characters. However, don't expect another Homecoming. This isn't a full-fledged story, it's a revisiting. A "where are they now". Mildly entertaining, but not a great book.
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LibraryThing member goodnightmoon
I started this book enjoying the way Voigt describes Dicey's internal feelings and complex, somewhat tense scenes. By the end, I was frustrated with the references to the earlier book, the sentence fragments, and the wordy descriptions that left my eyes swimming. Overall, I didn't connect with
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Dicey's struggles in a way I should have to really enjoy this book.
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LibraryThing member annikasmith
This is an excellent example of realistic fiction. It is set in nearly present day. It is an authentic and realistic look at Dicey, a 13 year old girl who is coming of age at a time in her life when she is trying to take responsibility for her siblings, work with her grandma in raising them and
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dealing with her mother slowly dying. The reader comes to know Dicey really well as we learn about her attitudes, loves, hates, concerns, worries, friends, family and all the ins and outs of her life.
Appropriate Age: Intermediate, Middle School
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LibraryThing member MissReadsALot
I thought Homecoming was a little better, but this book was pretty good. I love all of cynthia Voigt's books, and I hope to read all of them. I cried when Momma died, but the kids made it through.
LibraryThing member MissTeacher
Dicey's Song roll along slowly, almost serenely, though turmoil bubbles below the surface. The story of one family's journey to find themselves, this novel was full of appropriate contradictions. The story moved slowly, though the character's metamorphoses were rapid. It was a story about letting
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go, but even more so about holding on. The characters were short and walled-off, yet open and accessible. Though there is quite a bit of confusion to get past in order to get into the story, the reader ends up learning that that confusion is necessary--vital, even. You'll find yourself appreciating almost everything about this book, and perhaps even wishing there were more stories which followed the Tillerman's throughout their lives.
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LibraryThing member readingrat
This heart-warming sequel picks up right where Homecoming left off. The Tillerman kids have settled in with Gram. They're starting school and gradually learning to open up to others, make new friends, and come to terms with their mom's desertion the previous summer. Even Gram finds herself
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reconciling with her feelings concerning her own children.
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LibraryThing member alanagraves
I am in love with this book! It is so good. When you read this book, you realize things you've never thought about before. This is by far, one of my favorite reads.
LibraryThing member debnance
I avoided this book for a long time because I had heard it was too upsetting for children. Yes, it is a sad book. And it might be too sad for some children. But there are lots and lots of children who would like to hear this story.Dicey and her three siblings have come to live with their
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grandmother. Their mother is in a mental hospital; their father skipped out before Dicey’s youngest brother, Sammy, was born.There are lots of problems to overcome. Dicey’s sister, Maybeth, isn’t learning like she should in school. James, Dicey’s brother, hides how smart he is in order to fit in. Sammy gets into fights. People talk about and tease the children about Gram. Dicey, like Gram, has learned to feign indifference. The whole Tillerman clan slowly works on all these problems, talking together, singing together, making new friends, working, building a boat. Now I’m anxious to see what my readers of realistic fiction at school think of this book.
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LibraryThing member kthomp25
Lots of wisdom here for adults. Gram says, "I married John, and that wasn't a mistake. But the way we stayed married, the way we lived, there were lots of mistakes. He was a stiff and proud man, John----a hard man. I stuck by him. But I got to thinking, after he died, whether there weren't things I
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should have done. He wasn't happy to be himself. And I just let him be. I let the children go away from him And from me. I got to thinking----when it was too late---you have to reach out to people. To your family too. You can't just let them sit there, you should put your hand out. If they slap it back, well you reach out again if you care enough. If you don't care enough, you forget about them if you can." Chapter 7

"I might have learned to enjoy him, if I'd tried. I thought I was trying, but maybe I wasn't. But I've let go of that grief and that anger." (Chapter 11)
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LibraryThing member DavisPamelag
Dicey’s Song, the second installment in the Tillerman series, tells the story of the four Tillerman children’s adjustment to their new life living with their widowed grandmother, Abigail Tillerman, whom they just met. In the previous book, Homecoming, the children were abandoned by their mother
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who was suffering from mental illness and this story picks up where Homecoming leaves off and focuses on the eldest, Dicey, and her struggles to find acceptance and security.

I was drawn to the author’s description of Dicey’s emotional struggle with allowing the grandmother to become the primary caretaker of her siblings, which had been Dicey’s job for so long.

Classroom extensions include having the students to write an essay explaining the significance of the book’s title, Dicey’s Song. Another extension would be to use words from the book as the vocabulary words of the week.
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LibraryThing member sarahlouise
I have read this book over 20 times. Dicey's resiliant character and perserverence inspires me to keep on keeping on.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Dicey is such an interesting character - self-assured, strong, smart. This book is full of people learning to trust each other, to reach out and not give up on relationships. There is grief but there is also grace in this story.
LibraryThing member lycomayflower
Book Two of the Tillerman Cycle, which follows Dicey, her siblings, and Gram as they sort out how to be a family together and deal with the difficulties life keeps throwing at them (as life is wont to do). Simply excellent. If not quite as bowl-you-over brilliant as Homecoming, still a worthy
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follow-up and deserving of many rereads. Recommended to everyone.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
Barbara Caruso's lovely narration brought some depth to these characters- made the prickly Tillerman women a little more accessible. I liked the story, I enjoyed listening to it after having read it some time ago, but it's still a sad story.
LibraryThing member psychedelicmicrobus
Here the reader learns more about Dicey as she begins to grow up and navigate the confusing labyrinth of being a teenager. After a devastating event, Dicey must help her siblings deal with the fallout. Written beautifully, a little more of the story unfolds and draws you in further to the Tillerman
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family. By now, I care about them as if they are real people. I mourn when they mourn, and I celebrate their triumphs. That's the mark of a great writer.
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LibraryThing member pwlifter300
I love the first book, and I still think the first is the best of the series, still.. I admire the author for the delicate intricacies she has added to Dicey's family life with her grandmother. I love the sad ending, and learn that in life, just like in Dicey's, we have to learn to let go of the
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people of the past, as well as reach out to others in present. Lovely story for all ages :)
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LibraryThing member klburnside
This is the best Newbery I've read in a while. I really liked the characters and the story was engaging. Not much else to say.
LibraryThing member pennykaplan
The four Tillerman children and their Gram grow into a family as the children mature, and Gram gives up some of her prickliness. Themes of reaching out and letting go and aloneness.
LibraryThing member fingerpost
The four Tillerman children, (feisty Sammy, sweet and slow Maybeth, brainy James, and relentlessly determined Dicey) are figuring out how to live with their odd and ornery Gram, who is adopting them. Dicey has never really had friends, and finds it difficult when a big, effervescent black girl,
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Mina, is determined to make friends with her, and also when a slightly older boy she sees after school, develops a crush on her. Maybeth struggles to learn math and reading, but picks up piano brilliantly, under the tutelage of Mr. Lingerle, a kind and obese music teacher who befriends the family.
Towards the end, Gram gets word from Boston about the children's mother, who has been in a state mental hospital in a vegetative state, and she packs up Dicey and takes off to the hospital. The children's mother is dying.
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LibraryThing member bell7
After the events of the summer recounted in Homecoming, Dicey and her siblings are adjusting to life with their Gram in Maryland. Now no longer the sole one in charge of making decisions, Dicey deals with school and making new friends, while her Gram works on officially adopting the children
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knowing that their mother will probably never be well again.

I loved the Tillerman stories when I was younger - I don't know why, but stories about kids with hard home lives finding a place to call home appealed to me. This is very much in that vein, as Dicey learns to reach out a hand to others and allow them to become friends. It's much more focused on her character than any plot, running from the start of school to about Christmastime. I might be a slightly more harsher critic as an adult then I was when I first read it, but it's still a good story. Though it could technically be read as a standalone, I think it makes a little more sense to read Homecoming first because they quickly reference events of the summer a couple of times that don't have the same resonance with readers if you're not aware.
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LibraryThing member LisMB
Wonderful book. Great for young readers. Looking forward to reading others in this series
LibraryThing member rachelellen
This is a continuation of Homecoming; we see Dicey and her siblings adapting to life at their grandmother's and at school, watch them learn about being themselves and holding on and letting go and growing up. It sounds cheesy when I talk about it. It's not. See my review of Homecoming for my
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thoughts on this series in general.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
When we catch up to the Tillerman family they are in Maryland living with the grandmother they never knew they had. Dicey is a teenager starting to come of age with homework and budding albeit reluctant friendships. Her brothers, James and Sammy, are in thriving in school. Only sister Maybeth is a
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musical prodigy. Her family is becoming self-sufficient. Everything should be great for Dicey. Her family is not on the run. They have a roof over their heads every night. They have food on the table at every meal. They have someone to look after them. But, for Dicey something is wrong. For the longest time she had control over her family. Keeping them together and safe was all she knew how to do. When her siblings start exercising independence Dicey isn't sure how to feel about it. She has to learn to let them go their own way, together but apart. At the same time Dicey deals with the confusion of becoming a young woman without her mother's guidance. My favorite moments were whenever Gram's hardened exterior began to soften as each child reached for her love.
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