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Figgs and Phantoms (Newbery Library, Puffin) Paperback – April 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Newbery Library, Puffin
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (April 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140329447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140329445
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,519,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ellen Raskin was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up during the Great Depression. She was the author of several novels, including the Newbery Medal-winning The Westing Game, the Newbery Honor-winning Figgs & Phantoms, The Tattooed Potato and other clues, and The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel). She also wrote and illustrated many picture books and was an accomplished graphic artist. She designed dust jackets for dozens of books, including the first edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time. Ms. Raskin died at the age of fifty-six on August 8, 1984, in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I love Ellen Raskin. Like many readers, I searched out this book because of my deep attachment to The Westing Game. Figgs & Phantoms turns out to be something quite different, a moving (and, at times, unsettling) comic fantasy. But I'm *so* glad I read it. F&P is more effective than most adult novels in exploring what it means to belong; to find your path in life; to be a success; and to die. It's really unlike anything else I've read.
One caveat: I first read this book as an adult, and I have no idea how kids respond to it. For a wonderful Ellen Raskin book closer in feel to the Westing Game, definitely look for a copy of the out-of-print classic "The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues." [Barring that, "The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)" is a good choice.]
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gypsi Phillips Bates VINE VOICE on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Figgs are an odd family and Mona Lisa Figg regrets being one. They have their own special place to go after death (Capri), they are all talented in some bizarre way and they revel in their unordinariness. Mona's not sure she believes in Capri, can find no specific talent and just wants to be like everyone else.
The only Figg she cares for is her Uncle Florence. When he dies, she finds Capri for herself, wanting to stay with him. This journey, naturally, makes her a better person in the end, more understanding and loving of her family and herself, and grants her a peace she hadn't had before.
There are some extremely funny bits and lots of nearly psychedelic incidents. Though it is listed as a juvenile book, I feel that it should be slanted more towards the young adult category as some of it simply too complex for a juvenile book. Some of the word play, situations and themes would be--in my opinion--meaningless or confusion to anyone younger than the late teens. Having said that, I can not give it a blanket recommendation and would recommend that a parent read it first to see if the discussion of death and the afterlife would be appropriate for their child.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marisa on September 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Mona Lisa Newton is feeling rather depressed lately. Her family consists of, among others, Uncle Truman Figg, the human-pretzel-turned-sign-painter who always makes exactly one mistake on his signs; Uncle Florence Figg, who later coincidentally added the middle name Italy; Newton ("Newt") Newton, the used car dealer; Sister Figg, baton twirler and tap dancer, named by being raised by one older brother; Gracie Jo, the dog catcher, and her son, Fido Figg the Second (the first was a dog). Mona finds she only feels close to Uncle Flo, a book dealer. After hinting that he may have to leave soon for "Capri" - apparently the heaven for Figg-Newton family members, Mona knows she must unravel the mystery surrounding the place. --Packed with tons of clever wordplays, subtle mystery clues, and funny moments (especially all of Uncle Truman's signs!) this is one book not to miss!! --Marisa
This is an intiguing, funny, and very nicely woven story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Figgs and Phantoms is about a girl, Mona, who had a very strange family and didn't like it. But, she was very close to her Uncle Florence. When her Uncle died she was very sad. Mona decided to go to Capri where her Uncle was. Capri is the Figgs' heaven. Mona had to learn that things are not always the way you think they're going to be. You should read it! Efrem Carlin 5th grader
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Theodore M. Alper on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
We've been reading Ellen Raskin books the last few weeks after discovering "The Tatooed Potato" by accident. Wow! I can't think of any other children's author quite like her.
In this one, a young girl, Mona, is embarrassed by her flamboyant family (she imagines them mocked by everyone in town) -- it is at once a universal feeling of kids and at the same time quite unusual and specific to her (her family are all former vaudevillians, they have a sort of private semi-religion, etc). Raskin mixes Mona's fierce love for her quiet, shy, uncle, with the thrill of book-collecting (did I mention the shy uncle is a book collector?) and BOOKS themselves -- references to Milton, Conrad, Blake, and others abound. "Heaven is found in books" says the uncle (well, that's not an exact quote but close enough). The girl's growing despair climaxes in a fantastic dream-like trip to a sort of heaven and without giving too much away (perhaps I already have), her growing maturity and sensitivity to her family and friends at the end is nicely done.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
After reading The Westing Game, I wanted more. When i read this book i was surprised. At first i thought i would not like it, but i loved it. It is now one of my favorites. Figgs & Phantoms is about a girl, Mona, with a very interesting family. She does not enjoy having such an odd family. Her uncle is the only reletive that she really cares about. I do not want to ruin the ending, but it is great. The entire book comes together beautifully. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a good book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Basically Amazing Ashley on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Figgs and Phantoms by Ellen Raskin won the Nebery Honor in 1975. Four years later, she won the Newbery Award for The Westing Game. I read The Westing Game several years ago, and I really enjoyed it. It was wonderfully complex and the characters were simply delightful. (More on that later). So, I was actually quite excited to read Figgs and Phantoms.

Alas... Figgs just didn't work for me.. It was quite the disappointment. I started this book, not really knowing what to expect about the story itself, but looking forward to it, because I had so enjoyed The Westing Game. Sigh.

Figgs and Phantoms is about a family, The Figgs, who are all wildy quirky, except the youngest daughter/niece, Mona. She is decidedly normal, hates her family's weirdness, and is terribly embarrassed by what she believes the people of her town, Pineapple say about all those crazy Figgs.

I thought that Raskin was trying too hard with this novel, and as a result she missed the mark just about everywhere. Every single character has something weird, wacky, crazy, or unbelievable about them. All of them, except Mona. (She's just bitter about life and everything in it. Rather than make her quirky, I'd say she's just a teenager.) It got to be a little bit too much for me. Her mom, Sister Figg Newton (Newton being her married name) tap dances. All the time. Everywhere. Her uncle Truman, the human pretzel and sign maker (but horrible speller). And the list goes on and on and on. There was too much for me to believe it. Sometimes I'd look at the book and want to shout at the author- Enough already! I get it! They are weird. Can we move on please?!- Or something like that anyway...

The majority of the book focuses on Mona and her angst.
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