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The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin



Book Summary Novel Activities Vocabulary Words Writing Activities Discussion Topics Online Test




Book Summary


Mr. Westing, the town's richest man, passed away (or was he murdered?) and has left a fortune. His will calls for sixteen people to gather and find out the details of the "game" he has planned for them. Each of the sixteen people receive a special invitation to the reading of the will. Each of them is connected to Mr. Westing in some way. Mr. Westing always loved games so he asks his potential beneficiaries to solve his murder. The one who puts all the pieces together to solve the crime is the winner and will inherit his fortune.

It takes some focus to keep track of all sixteen characters and their interactions. However, the author keeps the reader interested by constantly dropping hints to help solve the mystery. There are many surprises as the cast of characters partner up and then turn against each other in order to win the fortune. The ending is well-written and quite a surprise, keeping the reader guessing all the way to the final moment.


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Novel Activities


1. Ellen Raskin does a great job of holding the reader’s attention throughout the novel. The reader is always guessing who may have been the one that murdered Sam Westing. As you read the novel, think about who you surmise may have done it. Keep a running list of your guesses.

2. Judge Ford is all business. She is not much for having fun. She, however, plans a party for the sole purpose of finding out more information in regard to possible suspects. Help Judge Ford out by designing a nice invitation to her party. Make it sound fun so everyone will come!

3. Imagine that The Westing Game is being turned into a major motion picture. Choose a famous person that you think would be best playing each particular role.

4. In chapter 11, the view from Turtle’s window in Sunset Towers is described in great detail. Using the details provided by the author, draw the view that Turtle saw.


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Vocabulary Words


alcove asylum lunatic infirmity
paraphernalia flask obsequious malady
placard vengeance pompous accomplice


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Writing Activities


Sensory/Descriptive: In the heat of an argument, Turtle tells Sydelle that she uses a "crutch." Turtle meant this symbolically but in all truth, Sydelle actually uses a crutch as her "crutch." Her crutch is a way of hiding her true self. Sydelle replies that Turtle's crutch is her big mouth. Angela knows that it is actually Turtle's braid. We all have a crutch. A crutch may be something that is used to hide your true self or it can be something you use for support or attention. Describe in detail a crutch you have used. Exactly how do you use that crutch? How do you feel when you use that crutch?


Imaginative/Narrative: Sam Westing left his entire inheritance to the person who could solve the mystery of his death. That person would then be free to spend the money as he or she sees fit. For example, if Theo won the inheritance he would pay for Chris's surgery. If Angela won the money, she would consider going to college. Imagine that you were given a very sizeable inheritance. What would you do with all your money? Be very specific describing what you would do with the money and why.


Analytical/Persuasive: Mr. Hoo's restaurant was not bringing in the kind of business it needed. Mr. Hoo decided to enlist the help of Grace Wexler to devise a marketing campaign to attract new customers. Grace wanted to change the name to "Hoo's On First" thinking the catchy name would interest guests. She also thought the name would make it easy to promote the restaurant. Create an ad for Mr. Hoo's Restaurant. You can even change the name if you wish. Be very creative. Think about what might persuade customers to come to the restaurant and focus on that in your ad campaign.


Practical/Informative: There were several moments in the book that turned out to be quite newsworthy. Obviously Sam Westing's death would have been big news in the community. Also, the explosions that took place in Sunset Towers. Choose an event from the book and write a news story about it. Use quotes from characters in the story who described the event. Remember to only report facts and leave your own personal opinions out.


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Discussion/Journal Topics


Chapter Three: “She must have been a handsome woman at one time, but life had used her harshly.”

Chapter Seven: “Death is senseless yet makes way for the living.”

Chapter Sixteen: “Lucky Turtle, the neglected child.”

Chapter Twenty-One: “Maybe Westing paid for your education ‘cause you were smart and needy, and you did all the rest by yourself.”


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Online Test


Your students can take an online test with immediate results at:

The Westing Game Online Test


The Professional Development Institute has a complete literature unit for this novel. For more information, click the link below.

The Westing Game Literature Unit (Check out the sample pages!)


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