R is for Raskin

Ellen Raskin wrote the Newbery Award Winner, The Westing Game. The Westing Game is a great book and one that carries a special place in my heart.

As a youngster, I had difficulty reading on my own. The Westing Game was the second book I ever read to myself (the first was about a cat) where I got so lost in the narrative, I forgot about whether or not I was reading slowly.

That was the beginning of the beginning: the ability to read in lines at the post office, at the DMV, during traffic jams . . . and also during math class, while working as a receptionist, during church . . .

Again, The Westing Game is a great book. However, it isn't necessarily the most memorable Ellen Raskin book for me. I quite like two of her lesser known works:  
  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) 
  • The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues.
The latter is an art-related mystery with Encyclopedia Brown-like anecdotes (can you guess the answer to this problem?) threaded through with gentle pathos. Her female and male protagonists are similar to Turtle and hmmm-hmmm from The Westing Game (I'm not going to give him away!).

Great illustration from The Mysterious
Disappearance by the author
The Westing Game has been made into a television movie, Get a Clue! (which grasps the idea and sells a lesson but misses the complicated human relationships, the irony, and the essential characters of Turtle and hmmm-hmmm). The Tattooed Potato should be made into a television series.

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