The Westing Game was my favorite books from fifth grade to–well, it’s still a favorite. If you haven’t read it, please go find a copy because it’s an amazing read.

I was perusing the [Cooperative Children’s Book Center] CCBC’s site today and unexpectedly discovered that they have an online archive of the manuscript of The Westing Game. Author Ellen Raskin donated her manuscript materials and provided audio and written commentary in 1978, around the time the book was published by Dutton. Her goal was to inspire those who used CCBC’s services, because she “often remarked during her career that she wished she had known ‘where children’s books come from’ while she was a young UW-Madison art student.”

I think this archive is really, really cool even if you don’t adore The Westing Game. The process Raskin describes for book production is very, very different from how it’s done today, so it’s a kick to see how publishing used to work. There are scores of her handwritten notes, outlines and planning (such as her notes on potential titles), research materials (such as a letter about Wisconsin Judges), marked-up drafts, and even her book cover designs. If you have any interest in manuscript history/the history of publishing, check it out! If you don’t care about book production, you still might be inspired by some of her methods for the writing process.