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The Westing Game

The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

Analysis: Genre

Mystery, Children's Literature

While The Westing Game is marketed as children's literature, won the Newbery Medal, and was written by a children's books author and illustrator, we think it's primarily a mystery. At a bookstore, however, you'd probably find it in the children's literature section, with its adolescent heroine, family-friendly language, and award-winning content.

Really, though, we think this is an awesome mystery with something for every age group. The puzzle at the heart of the book is clever and hard to guess, and each time we read it we spot more clues that we didn't notice the first time. We can identify just as well with Turtle, who's thirteen, as we can with Judge J. J. Ford, who's forty-two – there's an sympathetic character for everyone here to relate to. Secretly, there's tons of sophisticated content in the book: Raskin slips in challenging ideas about equality, race and class, appearance, and even disability. (For more on this, check out our section on "Themes.") The big ideas in the book, like thoughts about who we really are, who we want to be, and who we're running from, are all things that apply to adult fiction, and they're often a big part of mysteries, where the underlying question is whodunit. Who is it? The Westing Game asks: who are we all?

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