Who's the mistake and who's the murderer?

The Westing Game
Ellen Raskin
Speak (Penguin Books) 2004
Kindle ed, 204 pages, also available in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook
Genre(s) middle grade, puzzle-mystery
Source Kindle Books

Synopsis:  
A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, one thing for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

About the Author:  
Ellen Raskin was a writer, illustrator, and designer. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up during the Great Depression. She primarily wrote for children. She received the 1979 Newbery Medal for her 1978 book, The Westing Game.

Ms. Raskin was also an accomplished graphic artist. She designed dozens of dust jackets for books, including the first edition of Madeleine L'Engle's classic A Wrinkle in Time.

She married Dennis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American, in 1965. Raskin died at the age of 56 on August 8, 1984, in New York City due to complications from connective tissue disease.


My Disclaimer:  I purchased this book at full price at Kindle Books on Amazon. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own unless otherwise stated.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
My husband came home the other night and tossed a book on the loveseat next to me and said that his class was reading it and he thought I might like it. Mr. Easley teaches 6th grade. I thumbed through it and told him I'd take a look at it. As usual, he was right. I have to give him credit, he really is good at picking out books that might interest me.

This is a puzzle-mystery written by Ellen Raskin in 1978, She won a Newbery Award for it in 1979. Who am I to argue with the Newbery Award committee? I'm just the reviewer. I gave it an enthusiastic 5 stars.

If I had to choose a favorite character out of the sixteen, I'm not sure who it would be. One of them is a mistake. One of them is a murderer. A judge and a doctor. A track star. A secretary. A dressmaker and a Chinese cook. 

I'm sure Turtle is the usual choice. She's certainly the most outstanding character. But more than any one character, I loved the pairings. At first glance, the pairings didn't seem to work at all. How were these people to get along well enough to actually solve the riddles presented to them? 

What could possibly come of the pairing of Mrs. Hoo and Dr. Wexler? Mrs. Hoo didn't even speak English and all she thought about was returning to China and cooking the food ordered in the restaurant. Dr. Wexler was a podiatrist and married to social-climbing Grace. He's the father to Angela and Turtle. But Grace sees her husband as useless socially and so pays him little attention. Mr. Hoo pays Mrs. Hoo little attention also. She's his second wife and not content. As long as she cooks, he's not too worried about her. She has no friends and doesn't speak the language. Dr. Wexler is a caring man who likes to take care of people. So, each day Dr. Wexler has lunch at the restaurant and starts teaching Mrs. Hoo words in English. They become friends and both of them are happier. Simpatico! A very beneficial pairing. All the other pairings are the same way. Each member of the pairings finds something in their partner to benefit themselves.

Mr. Easley said that he liked the scene when the pairings were reshuffled the best. That's just like him. It's something he'd do with his students.

I preferred the ending scene when Turtle is saying her goodbyes and giving an update on what's what with everyone. It brought me to tears. I'm a sap for a sad scene.

Let's see what the students said about the book...

As far as favorite character goes it was Turtle with 14 out of 20 students choosing her. The fact that she is 14 and they are 11 and 12-year-olds may have something to do with their identification with her as well as her being such an active character. Mr. Easley says, "that makes her human in their eyes".

GA, a 6th-grade girl said, "I really liked the book. I couldn't put it down. I finished it the first day. I was very surprised that I had to work so hard to answer Mr. E's questions. I am now interested in reading more mysteries."

MP, a 6th-grade boy said, "I really enjoyed The Westing Game. It was fun and exciting. I was really mixed up with all the twists and turns. I really like Turtle the best. She was tough and smart."

Thank you for sharing this with me, Mr. Easley and Class! I think this is a book I can recommend for just about anyone of any age!