The Westing Game

The Westing Game

Winner of the 1979 Newbery Medal

Who killed Sam Westing? A cast of characters has gathered together in the old mansion to see if they can unravel the mystery. And what a bunch of wild and crazy guys they are! Can you figure it out? Ages 8-12


This mystery begins when sixteen individuals are named heirs to Sam Westing’s multimillion dollar estate, and they can inherit everything if they can follow the will and play the game to find who took his life. Told from the perspective of a third-person narrator that alternates omniscience, details and clues are unfolded as each character’s part of the story is told. With twists of a bomber, thief, mystery chess player and wordplay, the heirs turn against each other and work together to solve the puzzles left in the will. Why these sixteen people, and who will win?

This book holds a lot of twists and turns and doesn’t give away clues easily. Answers to questions are released by characters so quietly you have to pay close attention to catch them. The way that the mystery unfolds lets readers guess at the answers and sometimes be right—only a few answers come out of left field. After answers are revealed, readers can connect the dots with most and see how it could have happened. Some of the events, however, are quite far-fetched. The motives of the bomber are not made clear and what is expressed is hard to believe. The wordplay is clever but very challenging. This cast of characters is quite a group that are written like real people with strengths and weaknesses and readers could easily find something to like about each of them.

I enjoyed how well-thought out this book was as well as how well the characters were drawn chapter by chapter. The mystery is very reminiscent of a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys story where the reader is able to play along with the characters. I am surprised that the recommended age for the book is so young (SLJ suggested 9-12 and Amazon says 10 and up). It’s as if the book is recommended based upon the age of Turtle, who attends Junior High. I was stumped at some of the wordplay and needed to re-read a bit in the end because I was confused and had to go back to find clues I had missed. The subtle reveal of clues would confuse fast readers or readers with comprehension issues. I think strong readers in upper middle school or junior high would like this book but I would honestly recommend it more for high school students.

Raskin, Ellen. The Westing Game. New York: Puffin, 1978. Print.

Recommended by:  Anna Montgomery, Librarian, USA


A Newbery Medal Winner

For over thirty-five years, Ellen Raskin's Newbery Medal-winning The Westing Game has been an enduring favorite.

This highly inventive mystery involves sixteen people who are invited to the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. They could become millionaires-it all depends on how they play the tricky and dangerous Westing game, a game involving blizzards, burglaries, and bombings! Ellen Raskin has created a remarkable cast of characters in a puzzle-knotted, word-twisting plot filled with humor, intrigue, and suspense.---from the publisher

192 pages 978-0142401200 Ages 8-13

Keywords: mystery, puzzles, humor, fun, game, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, If You Liked Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Winner of the Newbery Medal Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award An ALA Notable Book A School Library Journal One Hundred Books That Shaped the Century

"A supersharp mystery...confoundingly clever, and very funny." —Booklist, starred review

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