Who was Ellen Raskin?
August 30, 2002 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Who was Ellen Raskin? Even if you don't recognize the name, you've probably read her Newbery Award-winning YA novel The Westing Game. You might even have her illustrated edition of A Child's Christmas in Wales, which she printed on her own as a sample to show publishers when trying to jump-start a freelance career. She listed some of her influences as "Blake, Conrad, Hawthorne, James, Nabokov, Piero della Francesca, Calude Lorrain, Gaugin, Matisse, Fantasia, baseball, hockey, zoos, medicine, and Spain." [more inside]
posted by redshoes3 (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are some examples of her book designs for The Westing Game at the University of Wisconsin, which also has a RealAudio interview with Raskin commenting on some of the manuscript's scanned pages at the website. I wish I could give a copy of the tattooed potato and other clues to every fourteen-year-old aspiring artist I know (it's out of print).
posted by redshoes3 at 1:32 PM on August 30, 2002

This totally made my day, redshoes3. "The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues" was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I still remember several passages from it and it will always be the reason I can remember Roy G. Biv. Strangely, it's one of only a couple of my childhood books I don't have any more, and a short while ago, I was trying to remember the title or author so I could replace it. I'm sorry to hear it's out of print. Weep.

I also had no idea Raskin was a fellow Milwaukeean. That makes me all sorts of happy. Thanks for posting this.
posted by aine42 at 1:46 PM on August 30, 2002

Nice post redshoe, I haven't though about "The Westing Game" in years, and miss it.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:28 PM on August 30, 2002

//blush// thanks aine42....my pleasure. -- TWG is haunting, isn't it? I remember rereading it when I was in my 20s and being surprised at its darker aspects, which apparently hadn't troubled me at all as a kid.
posted by redshoes3 at 2:35 PM on August 30, 2002

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who remembers Ellen Raskin's books so fondly. I can't wait until my own daughter is old enough to enjoy them for herself.
posted by dreadmuffin at 2:47 PM on August 30, 2002

Oh! The Westing Game was one of my *favorite* books when I was growing up. Wow, what a sweet memmory, thanks.
posted by antimony at 3:10 PM on August 30, 2002

Nope, I've never heard of her or any of her work, but Kruse's description of her makes Raskin out to be quite an interesting character, indeed!
posted by majick at 3:28 PM on August 30, 2002

I've never heard of the Westing Game but it sounds really interesting. Thanks redshoes3! Can a 34-yr old enjoy it or is it a childhood nostalgia thing? (i.e. should I buy it for me or my nephew or both :)
posted by vacapinta at 3:29 PM on August 30, 2002

I'd bet you would both enjoy it, vacapinta -- Raskin's books are very funny, and very sophisticated. Lots of wry humor, with occasionally some very dark spots. Nearly all of Raskin's books are puzzlers, but TWG is more overt about it. How old is your nephew?
posted by redshoes3 at 3:48 PM on August 30, 2002

I think TWG is the best mystery ever, not just for young adults. I would also like to point out that Ginny Moore Kruse has been head librarian at a very special library, the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in Madison, WI for 26 years. She is an incredibly dynamic person who has been on numerous Caldecott and Newbery selection committees and has won national and international notice for her work with intellectual freedom. She has mentored innumerable librarians, authors and illustrators of children's books over the years. Sadly, she is retiring September 30, 2002. She will be missed in Wisconsin and in the national library community.
posted by tio2d at 7:06 PM on August 30, 2002

Candles. Turtle. Bombs. All sorts of images from The Westing Game just came flooding back reading this post. Growing up in a small Wisconsin town (I had no idea before this that Raskin was also from Wisconsin) we had a very limited elementary school library, and no book stores. Almost all the books I had access to were ordered from a little book "catalogue" all the students got every couple months. I remember ordering TWG and how it took weeks and weeks for the book to arrive. I read that book dozens of times till the ragged paperback covers were falling off. It was a sophisticated mystery, great characters, excellent plot. I always felt lucky to have read that book and had it influence my thinking and reading early on.

Other early favsā€¦ Daniel Pinkwater (anyone ever read "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death" or "Lizard Music"?)
posted by i blame your mother at 9:22 PM on August 30, 2002

Thanks, Redshoes3! I didn't know about this book, but I will be including it in my next Amazon order. I was very interested to see that Ellen Raskin was the one who designed that so-well-remembered cover for "A Stitch In Time". I'm only sorry that "The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues" is not available...
posted by taz at 8:00 AM on August 31, 2002

i remember the westing game! sort of :) like all i can remember was *SPOILER ALERT!* she made $50mn in the stock market, lost it all, then made it all back (and then some, like $200mn or something) in the end. or something like that :)

why do i remember that? i guess making tons of money made a big impression on me as a kid!? keke :) but i also remember liking it a lot, so i suppose it must have influenced me in other ways as well! i just dunno what they are :)

btw, here's another thread with a bunch of fave children's books. i like z for zachariah and interstellar pig.
posted by kliuless at 12:14 PM on August 31, 2002

« Older Essex   |   PlasticMonkey.com Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments