The Captain’s Log – the westing game (Ellen Raskin) – the first 20 in 2020 book!

Ahoy there me mateys!  This read accomplishes four things!  I feel so productive from one book.

  1. This be the the first book from me 20 in 2020 list!  This year has been so crazy that it has taken two and a half months to read one of them.  Eesh!
  2. It’s the first book I have read in 10 days!  I feel like I be drowning due to lack of reading time.  I have a free weekend due to the corona virus panic.  Something positive out of the crazy.
  3. This book belongs to the 102 unread physical books in the hold! I finally read something from that towering stack.
  4. I have finally read another Newbery award winner!

In October 2017, I read a post by me Matey Jackie @ deathbysundoku.  She be on the Great Newbery quest wherein she be reading all Newbery medal winners by January 2022 when the 100th Newbery Award happens!  Worthy goal indeed.  I meself had embarked on this journey many years ago before adverse winds and scads of other adventures sent me off course.  So Jackie’s posts have rekindled me interest in finishing them all (eventually) but I tend to keep rereading me favourites.  I had somehow missed out on the westing game as a young lass.  I was excited to see what the fuss was all about.

I get it.  This book is so well done.  I would have loved this as a kid, reading it for the first time, but me adult self very much appreciated it too.  The basic premise is that a group of people are brought together as beneficiaries to a millionaire’s will and find out they have to compete in a game to win the fortune.  Shenanigans ensue and things get all out of kilter.  I won’t say more of the plot because it be better to go in blind.

What I can say is that this 1978 book has excellent writing, extremely fun quirky characters, lovely plot twists, and surprising diversity.  Though written in third-person, the books shows perspectives from all 16 contestants.  While the characters are not psychologically written as they would be today, ye get a surprising amount of personal growth and self-reflection in the style of writing.  There are humorous elements too.  I thought the opening was particularly engaging because I was surprised by it and immediately wanted to understand what in the world was going on.  I really liked that while it be marketed for children, it does not treat younger readers as idiots.  In fact the book is rather clever.  It is short but so well done.

One of the things I did for this read was to also borrow an ebook copy from the library for the extra features.  Once I finished the story, I read the ebook’s introduction and bonus material.  Apparently the author was an illustrator before she became an author.  She produced over 1000 book covers.  I also liked learning about her career.  Apparently Raskin designed this entire book down to font choices, paragraph style, and illustrations.  I got to see some of her sketches and notes about producing the westing game.  It was cool.  I was disappointed that neither copy I had used her original work.  I rather wish I had the deluxe anniversary edition published in 2018.

Side note: For this list of all the Newbery award winners thus far and the ones I have read go to me Newbery page!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

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’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Ellen Raskin – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the westing game – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

12 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – the westing game (Ellen Raskin) – the first 20 in 2020 book!

  1. I, too, wish I had read this as a child. Reading it as an adult I just kept thinking of the film Clue. This is a fun, more child-appropriate version of that film. An interesting observation that the psychological aspect isn’t there — you’re right! I wonder when that transition of focusing more on the internal started to come into children’s literature… I know it’s not going to be a clear date, but I’ll be paying attention as I continue to read the Newbery winners.

    Keep on keeping on, Captain! I have struggled to read, not due to time, but due to focus. I just cannot seem to focus on anything to save my life right now. 😦 Read more for me!

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  2. What a fabulous project – I look forward to following your progress (and if/when you tackle Prydain, yell – I’m always up for a reread of Taran and Eilonwy’s adventures).

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  3. I saw Jackie was reading and had added some E.B. White books. The Trumpet of the Swan was a book I really loved myself. I have to say, the one children’s book I read that really did NOT pander to a young reader was The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. I read it to my husband a year or two ago, and it holds up.

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  4. I LOVED this book as a child and still have my old copy from back then. In the past few years I’ve reread it and also listened to the audiobook. It’s just as good as I remember and I’m glad you liked it so much!

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  5. I am here cheering you and Jackie on in your quest to read them all. I read quite a few when I was younger. My teachers were always pushing those award winning books.

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