Friday, January 19, 2007

My Westing Game Experience

Leila at bookshelves of doom is quite seriously excited about the prospect of a sequel to The Westing Game. She has reminded me of my Westing Game experience. Doesn't everyone have one?

I read The Westing Game as an adult. I think I got a young relative interested in it, and we both read it at the same time. (I'm going to stop being coy here and admit it was my son. I prefer not to mention my family, but it does fit in with my story, so I'll let it go this time.) I remember finishing the book and thinking, Why don't kids ever read books like this in school?

Wouldn't you know it, very soon thereafter--maybe even the next day--said son comes home and announces that they're going to read The Westing Game in class. I become all excited, very much the way Leila at bookshelves of doom is excited now. So time passes, and I ask my son how everyone is liking The Westing Game. I am, of course, expecting to hear that they are loving it. Instead, son says that the other kids find the book confusing and keep asking him what's going on.

Though my children are, of course, brilliant, to be quite honest his classmates were asking him about the book because they knew he had already read it. So he had a leg up on the rest of the class on this one. Especially since I had been reading it at the same time and am not shy about boring my family with my insights about whatever I'm reading.

The plot thickens when I happen to meet the mother of one of those classmates and the subject of The Westing Game comes up. (I cannot imagine how.) She says, "That book isn't easy, you know."

And her kid was brilliant, too. Brilliant as in being identified for smart-kid- enrichment and winning some kind of award from the superintendent that the Gauthier family barely knew existed.

The point of this story? I'm always concerned about whether kids like the same books the adult kidlit community does, so I found this incident worrisome. That's all. But it made me think. And still does.


Anonymous said...

I love The Westing Game and I'm excited for the new Raskin whatnots.

When I first picked up the book, the librarian told me I wasn't old enough to read it. I wasn't offended, because she didn't know me. Shortly thereafter, she did - We struck up a rapport once she realized I was an advanced reader, that I read quickly, and that I came in there constantly!

Unknown said...

If it helps, my 11-year-old son just finished reading The Westing Game, and he loved it.