Ellen Raskin

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Ellen Raskin
BornMarch 13, 1928 (1928-03-13)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.[1]
DiedAugust 8, 1984(1984-08-08) (aged 56)
New York City, New York[2]
OccupationWriter, illustrator
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison
GenreChildren's novels, picture books
Notable works
  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon
  • Figgs & Phantoms
  • The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues
  • The Westing Game
Notable awardsNewbery Medal
1979 The Westing Game
SpouseDennis Flanagan (m. 1965, second husband)

Ellen Raskin (March 13, 1928 – August 8, 1984) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 13, 1928.[3] She was an American children's writer and illustrator. She won the 1979 Newbery Medal for The Westing Game, a mystery novel, and another children's mystery, Figgs & Phantoms, was a Newbery Honor Book in 1975.

In 2012 The Westing Game was ranked number nine among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with a primarily-U.S. audience.[4]


Raskin was born in Milwaukee and grew up during the Great Depression. She was educated at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a major in fine art.[1][5] She had one daughter in her first marriage, which ended in divorce.[1]

Raskin was an accomplished graphic artist. In New York City she worked as a commercial artist for about 15 years. Among other things she designed more than 1000 dustjackets for books including the first edition of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, the 1963 Newbery Medal winner.[1]

In 1960 she married Dennis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American.[1][5]

Raskin died at the age of 56 on August 8, 1984, in New York City, the result of a connective-tissue disease.[2]


Raskin entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison at age 17 with the intention of majoring in journalism.[6]


Children's picture books[edit]

Raskin wrote and illustrated twelve picture books, published by Atheneum Books except as noted.[7]

  • Nothing Ever Happens on My Block, 1967
  • Silly Songs and Sad, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1967
  • Spectacles, 1968
  • Ghost in a Four-Room Apartment, 1969
  • And It Rained, 1969
  • A & The, or, William T. C. Baumgarten Comes to Town, 1970
  • The World's Greatest Freak Show, 1971
  • Franklin Stein, 1972
  • Moe Q. McGlutch, He Smoked Too Much, Parents, 1973
  • Who, Said Sue, Said Whoo?, 1973
  • Moose, Goose & Little Nobody, 1976
  • Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, 1976

Children’s novels[edit]

Raskin wrote four novels, all published by E. P. Dutton.[7]

As illustrator[edit]

Raskin also illustrated more than twenty books by other writers.[7]

  • Happy Christmas: Tales for Boys and Girls, edited by Claire H. Bishop, Ungar, 1956
  • A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas (1950); J. M. Dent, 1968
  • Mama, I Wish I Was Snow, Child You'd Be Very Cold, by Ruth Krauss, Atheneum, 1962
  • Philosophy and History. The Ernst Cassirer Festschrift, ed. Raymond Klibansky and H. J. Paton, 1963 (second edition)
  • Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, selected by Dwight MacDonald, Crowell, 1965
  • We Dickinsons, by Aileen Fisher and Olive Rabe, Atheneum, 1965
  • The Jewish Sabbath, by Molly Cone, Crowell, 1966
  • Paths of Poetry: Twenty-Five Poets and Their Poems, ed. Louis Untermeyer, Delacorte, 1966
  • Songs of Innocence (Volumes 1 & 2), by William Blake (1789, 1794), music and illustrations by Ellen Raskin, Doubleday, 1966
  • D. H. Lawrence: Poems Selected for Young People, ed. William Cole, Viking, 1967
  • Ellen Grae, by Vera and Bill Cleaver, Lippincott, 1967
  • Poems of Robert Herrick, ed. Winfield T. Scott, Crowell, 1967
  • Probability: the Science of Chance, by Arthur G. Razzell and K. G. O. Watts, Doubleday, 1967 ‡
  • This Is 4: the Idea of a Number, by Razzell and Watts, Doubleday, 1967 ‡
  • Books: A Book to Begin On, by Susan Bartlett, Holt, 1968
  • Inatuk's Friend, by Suzanne Stark Morrow, Atlantic/Little, 1968
  • Lady Ellen Grae, by Vera and Bill Cleaver, Lippincott, 1968
  • A Paper Zoo: A Collection of Animal Poems by Modern American Poets, edited by Renee K. Weiss, Macmillan, 1968
  • Piping Down the Valleys Wild: Poetry for the Young of All Ages, edited by Nancy Larrick, Delacorte, 1968
  • Symmetry, by Razzell and Watts, Doubleday, 1968 ‡
  • We Alcotts, by Aileen Fisher and Olive Rabe, Atheneum, 1968
  • Circles and Curves, by Razzell and Watts, Doubleday, 1969 ‡
  • Come Along!, by Rebecca Caudill, Holt, 1969
  • Shrieks at Midnight: Macabre Poems, Eerie and Humorous, edited by Sara and John E. Brewton, Crowell, 1969
  • Three and the Shape of Three, by Razzell and Watts, Doubleday, 1969 ‡
  • Elidor, by Alan Garner (1965), Walck, 1970
  • Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti (1862), Dutton, 1970
‡ Raskin illustrated at least five volumes in a series of 32- and 48-page mathematics books by Arthur C. Razzell and Kenneth George Oliver Watts, which was inaugurated by Doubleday in 1964.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Ellen Raskin: Notable Wisconsin Author" [Biography]. Ginny Moore Kruse. Copyright 1981, 2000. Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators. The Cooperative Children's Book Center [CCBC]; School of Education; University of Wisconsin (ccbc.education.wisc.edu).
  2. ^ a b "Ellen Raskin". The New York Times. August 10, 1984.
  3. ^ "Ellen Raskin". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  4. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 7, 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Free Study Guide for The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin". Ray Mescallado. The Best Notes (thebestnotes.com). May 15, 2008.
  6. ^ ccbc.education.wisc.edu https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/authors/raskin/main.htm. Retrieved May 8, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ a b c "Books Written and Illustrated by Ellen Raskin". Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators. CCBC. Retrieved 2010-12-25.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ellen Raskin (Volume 579 of Twayne's United States Authors Series: Children's Literature), Marilynn Strasser Olson, Twayne Publishers, 1991; ISBN 9780805776270

External links[edit]