October 1, 2008

Ellen Raskin

Posted by at 9:10 am in Reads | Permalink

ThewestinggameA friend of mine works for a film company, and part of her job is to keep an eye out for books that she thinks would make good movies. Sometimes she asks me if I have any children’s books to recommend, and — once I get over my jealousy at how cool her job is — I always think about one of my favorite books from childhood: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

This book already has been made into a movie (released in 1997 under the title Get a Clue), but I’ve never seen it and don’t remember hearing about it. So I think it’s about time that another film adaptation was made — and with all the attention that the story deserves.

Really, it would be the perfect murder mystery movie: A rich recluse is discovered dead in his home in the dead of the night. His will calls for a meeting of 16 people who all live or work in the same apartment building — and it’s revealed that one of them is responsible for the old man’s departure from this world. Not only that, but the others are asked to pair off in order to investigate and identify the guilty individual, with the winner getting the inheritance.

With more than one case of a secret identity among the participants, a bomb planted by a surprising source, and plenty more twists and creepy coincidences (or are they?), a big screen adaptation of The Westing Game would surely draw crowds to the theater.

Then again, maybe it’s best that I never saw the film version because there’s something so delicious about curling up with a good mystery novel. After I read The Westing Game for the first time, I went on a bit of an Ellen Raskin rampage. Next, I picked up The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) — the title of which gives you a pretty good clue that the book is just as much of an eerie enigma as The Westing Game.

If you like the sound of those two books, Raskin’s got plenty of others, including these two:

FiggsFiggs and Phantoms:
The edition of this book that I got from my local library had a faceless girl on the cover — talk about about freaky!

The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues
Thinking about one particular scene from this book, involving a “monster” in the basement, makes my skin crawl to this day.


Uh oh, now I’m starting to creep myself out . . .

So, have any of you ever gotten wrapped up in any of Raskin’s bizarre puzzles? Leave a comment and let me know!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

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