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 (taken from Jackie’s site) and the ones I have read scroll to the bottom of the 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

Me Newbery Reads (28/97)

(in italics with underlined links to reviews when applicable)

2019: Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (Candlewick Press)

2018: Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books)

2017: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin)

2016: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin)

2015: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

2014: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

2012: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux)

2011: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)

2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illus. by Matt Phelan (Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson)

2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi (Hyperion Books for Children)

2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin)

2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Dial)

2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte)

1999: Holes by Louis Sachar (Frances Foster)

1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Scholastic)

1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (Jean Karl/Atheneum)

1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman (Clarion)

1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins)

1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry (Houghton)

1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (Jackson/Orchard)

1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum)

1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown)

1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Houghton)

1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (Harper)

1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (Clarion)

1987: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow)

1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Harper)

1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (Greenwillow)

1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (Morrow)

1983: Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt (Atheneum)

1982: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (Harcourt)

1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (Crowell)

1980: A Gathering 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)

1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Dial)

1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper (McElderry/Atheneum)

1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Macmillan)

1974: The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (Bradbury)

1973: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (Harper)

1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (Atheneum)

1971: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (Viking)

1970: Sounder by William H. Armstrong (Harper)

1969: The High King by Lloyd Alexander (Holt)

1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum)

1967: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (Follett)

1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (Farrar)

1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (Atheneum)

1964: It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville (Harper)

1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar)

1962: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton)

1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (Houghton)

1960: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell)

1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton)

1958: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith (Crowell)

1957: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (Harcourt)

1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (Houghton)

1955: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (Harper)

1954: …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell)

1953: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark (Viking)

1952: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (Harcourt)

1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Dutton)

1950: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (Doubleday)

1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry (Rand McNally)

1948: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois (Viking)

1947: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (Viking)

1946: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (Lippincott)

1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (Viking)

1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Houghton)

1943: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (Viking)

1942: The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds (Dodd)

1941: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry (Macmillan)

1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty (Viking)

1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (Rinehart)

1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy (Viking)

1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (Viking)

1936: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (Macmillan)

1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon (Viking)

1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs (Little, Brown)

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis (Winston)

1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer (Longmans)

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (Macmillan)

1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field (Macmillan)

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Macmillan)

1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Dutton)

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James (Scribner)

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman (Dutton)

1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger (Doubleday)

1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown)

1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (Lippincott)

1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (Liveright)

11 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!


  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).


  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.


  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!


  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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