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The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues Hardcover – April 28, 1975

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (April 28, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525408053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525408055
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,389,772 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.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By tacitus2017 on June 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It's a pity that this book is out of print. It's my favorite of Ellen Raskin's Mysteries for young people -- as intricate and unique as *The Westing Game* and *The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)*, but with a darkness and emotional richness usually off-limits in children's books.

The story unfolds as a set of episodes, criminal cases which the slick, successful, and shallow New York painter Garson and his student assistant, Ms. Dock (who resents the first name given to her by her parents, "Dickory") undertake to solve at the special request of the Greenwich Village precinct police investigator. The Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson rapport that Garson and Dickory develop begins to unravel as some threatening signs emerge, involving a blackmailing ring working out of the first floor of the building that houses Garson's studio; the lurking presence, in the basement, of Isaac Bickerstaff, a hulking and crippled deaf-mute whom Garson shelters; and a police investigation of the disappearance and suspected murder of the master painter Edgar Sonnenberg. These signs lead to uncomfortable questions about Garson's obscure past, and Dickory finds herself pursuing her own investigation while attempting to keep the police at a safe distance.

An unforgettable image from the book involves Dickory's discovery of a masterpiece by the painter Sonnenberg: it depicts a middle-aged woman dressed as a peddler, standing on a shadowy streetcorner before a city crowd whom she salutes mockingly with a banana, her head thrown back in wild laughter.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "fictionandprose" on August 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to read "The Tattooed Potato and other clues" a few times before my local library took it off the shelves. I absolutely love this book and it's still among my top five favorites though now that I'm older (and hopefully wiser) I've read a wider selection of profound and celebrated literature. I'm rathe saddened by the fact that I cannot find this book any longer even at the library.
In this story, an art student by the name of Dickory Dock (a name that makes her cringe thanks to the inevitable puns with it) becomes an assistant to Garson, a mysterious and eccentric artist living in Greenwich village.
Mysteries within a mystery is the best way to describe the events of this book-- Dickory and Garson begin solving cases for the police chief, acting as Inspector Noserag (Garson backwards, almost) and Sergeant Kod (Dock backwards, almost) as they deduce. 'Sergeant Kod' starts to form her own deductions as she gets to know the many faces of Garson and finds herself entangled in a bigger mystery.
Highly recommended! I strongly urge you to read it should the oppurtunity presents itself-- it's hard to come by this great book now that it is out-of-print.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I've heard some people say that Ellen Raskin hasn't written anything half as good as The Westing Game. I beg to differ.
I found The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues, to be a captivating and suspenseful book. I could not stop reading, wanting to read more about Dickory and all the the other colorful characters, and solve the mini mysteries that all together helped solve the intricate main mystery.
It's fun to see Raskin's quirky humor, and how all of the delightfully odd names are perfectly suited to the characters.
If not quite up to the level of The Westing Game, this book is still enjoyable, and worth a read. If do you pick up, I hope it captures your interest as much as it did mine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laika on August 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered "The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues" after reading Raskin's more famous novel, "The Westing Game." While "Potato" isn't as intricately plotted, it still shows Raskin's masterful ability to hoodwink her readers even as she entertains them. Her books are never simple whodunits; they're a riot of red herrings and surprisingly deep characters that make it easy to miss what the actual mystery is.

In "Potato," there are any number of obvious mysteries, as Dickory Dock and her employee Garson play detective to help the police solve crimes. These cases are presented almost as short stories, and while the reader doesn't have enough information to solve them on his/her own, they're still a lot of fun. The bigger mystery, though, is Garson, a shallow, vain, second-rate painter who shares his house with a pair of blackmailers and a deaf-mute he named Isaac Bickerstaff. It won't take sharp readers very long to guess at least some of Garson's secrets.

The real heart of this book, like "The Westing Game," is that everyone's identity is a bit of a mystery. This book is filled with disguises, pseudonyms, and impersonations as Dickory struggles to learn who she really is, and who her companions are. The ending isn't as tidy as "The Westing Game," but it's surprisingly satisfying to see Dickory grow and become more comfortable with herself, as a person and as an artist. She even embraces her much-despised name.

It's just a tragedy that this book is out of print. If you can find a used copy, snap it up! It's a great book for kids; this book was my first introduction to art, as well as the poetry of Christina Rossetti. It's even more fun now in the days of internet searches, because you can look up the artists they discuss and form your own opinions of their works. But it's also a surprisingly deep book for adults as well, and one that's sadly overlooked.
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