[W] The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

26 Apr

This is another Newbery winner, and one of my favorite books of all time. Most of the kids I recommend this book to love it, and I’ve had a few call it one of their favorite books. I even had one girl tell me that she was mad at me for making her stop reading at such a crucial moment in the story (they were reading a few chapters a week).

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a mystery that has lots of surprising revelations, and I love how all the pieces fit together in the end. I also liked how Raskin gave us a glimpse of what happened to all the characters after the main story ends (kind of like the oft-maligned ending to the Harry Potter series, which I didn’t dislike as much as some readers, I think). I enjoy reading about my favorite characters even after they move on with their lives, which is even better if it includes a new story about them (both Tamora Pierce and Patricia C. Wrede do this wonderfully).

This book will leave readers guessing until the end, and they will probably want to re-read the book from the beginning immediately after finishing it the first time to see how the clues all lead to the answer. I’ve read it many, many times (although I’ve lost my beloved copy in the garage somewhere and have had to borrow it from the library recently to teach it), and I’ve taught it twice now with great results. The kids have fun keeping track of the clues as they find them and trying to figure out pieces of the puzzle themselves (I make them put them up on the classroom walls), but I don’t think I’ve had anyone who was able to predict the ending yet.

There is a fairly large case, but the main character is probably Turtle, a 13-year-old girl, since all the other characters are four to forty plus years older. The book is actually pretty diverse, with an African American female judge and a Chinese family as part of the sixteen heirs who take part in the Westing game. While the depiction of them is a little stereotypical, the son of the Chinese family is not the typical “smart Asian,” which was refreshing. I didn’t find anything particularly offensive about them, and the fact that they were even there was nice. I think I was more focused on Turtle, who made me want to be a lawyer when I grew up (until I realized I would have to go to law school for that…).

I would recommend this book for boys and girls, around fourth grade and up. Even if they don’t generally like mysteries, they will probably like this one. And I have a bonus recommendation for any adults out there who loved the game or the movie “Clue” and haven’t read this book–you should definitely read it! 😉

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter W. 


6 Responses to “[W] The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin”

  1. KidLitReviews April 26, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    I remember this book. I think I have it on my shelves somewhere. I must admit though, I never got to the end. That was back many years ago when my interests were anything but kids books. Now, I love those books. I am going to find that book and read it. Thanks for highlighting this book and jogging my memory. Now I know why I am following you.

    • nita April 26, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      This is a great book, but the first half can be confusing. The second half is worth it, though!


  1. Newbery Medal Award Winners, 1922-present « nita's books - December 11, 2012

    […] of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos (Scribner) *1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton) ♥♥♥ *1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Crowell) […]

  2. Book List « nita's books - December 11, 2012

    […] This Book is Secret* by Pseudonymous Bosch The Strictest School in the World* by Howard Whitehouse The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin A Single Shard by Linda Sue […]

  3. SLJ’s Top 100 Chapter Books 2012 | nita's books - March 16, 2013

    […] Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967) #8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908) #9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978) #10 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977) #11 When You Reach Me […]

  4. SLJ’s Top 100 Chapter Books 2012 | nita's books - April 19, 2013

    […] E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967) ♥ *#8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908) *#9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978) ♥♥♥ *#10 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977) *#11 When […]

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