Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The next stop on the Newbery Challenge was the 1978 winner, The Westing Game. A multi-perspectival mystery that centers around a (possibly) deceased man's will, Raskin represents the American melting pot in a way that ages surprisingly well for something written in the late 70's. Clever, and by turns hilarious, the whole time I was reading the Westing Game, I kept thinking how much the scores of kids who love Trenton Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society would like this book. In fact, I could not help but wonder if perhaps Stewart had been inspired by the character of Turtle (from the Westing Game) when writing his own petite contrarian, Constance.
What I liked best about this novel was when, about 2/3 of the way through, I thought I had the mystery entirely solved, only to find that Raskin had not only anticipated my solution but also debunked it, carrying the mystery into deeper, more interesting territory. Not to mention the fact that it's probably the most patriotic kid's book I've ever liked.
For ages eight and up, and adults who like a little wholesome fun, The Westing Game was very much deserving of its medal.


  1. whoa! I just found this book in the free bin at the Taos Public Library, remembered clutching it to my body and calling it my super favorite for at least a year, and challenging any 12 year old I met to read it. I of course, took my second copy of Westing Game back to my casita, ripped through it in 2 days (its a challenging reading, honest!) and loved it all over again. Kudos for also having a Chinese American future Olympic champion in it, plus various intriguing women characters, including the blonde who turns out to be a super science brain, and has the guts to break off her engagement to further her education. Not to mention Turtle, the shin kicking, Wall Street playing heroine.