The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues
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The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  579 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Seventeen-year-old Dickory Dock has no idea what to expect when she answers an ad for an artist's assistant. Readers will enjoy "an intricate, one-of-a-kind comedy".--School Library Journal.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 1st 1989 by Puffin (first published 1975)
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Jessica
This is a sophisticated mystery that takes little readers seriously. I read about a trillion Agatha Christies when I was a child, and those are written for grownups but I remember this kids' book being way more emotionally compelling and intellectually layered... though you know, Agatha Christie had much cleverer mysteries and all that, and this isn't at all to malign her, only to say that Ellen Raskin really produced some very unique, brainy, and heartfelt books for children. All her stuff was...more
Jeremy
Dec 26, 2008 Jeremy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is clever
Shelves: books-of-2008
The most mature of Ellen Raskin's mysteries (though I'm not sure why I feel this way, maybe because Dickory was much older than me the first time I read it, whereas Turtle, and the Carrillon twins were more peers). This book is beautifully constructed, and I was pleased to be able to share it this time, by reading it out loud to my sister on Christmas.

Ellen was just fantastic at making names count, always, and I can't ever say, "I am Christina Rosetti," without tearing up. This time as I read it...more
Insouciantly
I read this book as a child, loved it, and promptly forgot about it, as children do. Then, about a week ago, I got a text message from my sister that was something along the lines of "Do you remember a book we read as kids that was something abouta girl named Hickory Dock? And there's a van gogh painting involved somehow?" And light begins to dawn... "Oh, that's right! And something about a potato?" After much google searching of "YA mystery hickory dock van gogh potato" I FOUND IT. And of cours...more
Leah Coffin
I think I like this one even more than The Westing Game. Dickory is certainly one of my favorite literary heroines.
Chandrakrit
I think that this was a good book because I saw more examples of showing and not telling. So it wasn’t like “ Dickory was shocked when she found out Garson was being arrested! ”. It was more like “ “ What? ” Dickory Shouted as Detective finkel took Garson by the arm.” - pg 146. Another thing that I liked about this book is that even though it had different mysteries, when you would finish a chapter and start a new one it still had the same relationships and characters.

Reflecting upon the writing...more
Jess
I first read The Tattooed Potato when I was about 11 years old and discovered Ellen Raskin in the shelves of my school's library. I tore through everything they had (including The Westing Game and The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)), and after nearly 30 years they still rank among my favorite pieces of juvenile fiction. My eldest son, now 11 years old, brought TTP to me the other day to tell me that he had read it and really enjoyed it, which led me to re-read it. It is still as...more
Kate
Another fun, slightly melancholy puzzle-mystery by Raskin. The part that has always stuck with me is when Garson trains Dickory to identify in all his studio guests the one characteristic they cannot conceal, that will always signal their true identity. I think I was a little too young for the complexity of this book when I read it (a hundred times), and would like to revisit it again. Hopefully my old copy is somewhere safe, as the book is now, sadly, out of print.
Kris
One of my favorite kid books to reread. It's another puzzle/mystery which deals with the way the world is (not always happy along the way, but happy in the end) on a kid level but not stupidly. It will surprise you and make you smile (over the top at points), but then, sometimes that's a nice change.
Elizabeth
I loved this book so much I stole it from the library. A great puzzle mystery.
Yoon
Quirky, episodic, and genuinely mysterious, with a darkly wry sense of humor.
Kennedy
Raskin wrote one of my favorite books, The Westing Game. I don't know why, but I'd never thought to look up her other books. I stumbled across this at the library and enjoyed it. The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues is the same genre as The Westing Game: a children's murder mystery. (Which is a rather strange genre.)

Dickory Dock (poor girl, this is her actual name) is the 17 year old character who is smart and brave like Turtle from The Westing Game. The mystery has a number of different twists a...more
Suzie
Children's mystery novel from the author of 'The Westing Game' set in New York City. Art student Dickory Dock becomes an assistant to artist Garson. Garson also has Dickory assist him when he consults with the police in cases that require a keen eye for observation. The interesting thing about this book is that it is very external, and does not rely on internal monologues. It is a literary technique that extolls its main point: being observant of what people are doing is an important skill that...more
Jenny
Aug 01, 2013 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: Jennifer
Shelves: story, tween
Dickory Dock lives the life of many typical art students—she lives in New York in a crowded walk-up, sleeps on an uncomfortable couch in the living room of her brother and his wife (and they don’t get along with one another), flirts with the sweet but awkward boy in her abstract art class while enduring extreme criticism from her art teacher, constantly steps overs bums, and dreams about living in her own Greenwich Village loft and studio. She becomes the assistant to Garcon, a hack portrait pai...more
Drew
I read this book twice as a kid, and had no idea what was going on through most of it. When I found a cheap ebook copy, I decided to give it another shot.

The basic plot is that a young art student named Dickory Dock gets a job as an assistant to Garson, the rich and famous (but 3rd-rate) portrait painter. One night at a party, Garson has too much to drink, and he lectures a stranger on artists' natural ability to see through deceptions. The stranger turns out to be the chief of police, who begin...more
Emily
One of the rare books I read as a child that still holds up today.
Dickory Dock takes an apprenticeship with an eccentric artist by the name of Garson who teaches her to be observant. Garson also takes some cases from the police and as Inspector Noserag and Sergeant Kod, the two help solve these cases. Dickory gets more than she bargained for, though, when a couple of Garson's tenants turn out to be up to no good.
Humorous, engaging, and downright brilliant. Highly recommended.
Laura
How observant are you? That's the question Garson asks of the unfortunately named Dickory Dock, his new assistant. Garson's a painter - somewhat slick, not particularly insightful - who owns a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Soon after Dickory starts, Garson moves to the top two floors, leaving the ground floor to Manny Mallomar and Shrimps Marinara, and Isaac, the disfigured deaf-mute.

Dickory's life becomes more complicated when Inspector Quinn asks Garson's help solving a mystery... and then a...more
Angela
Separate strands are braided together and the final product (and ongoing process) is a delight--as you knew the whole time they/it would be. The question was how and the surprise is how much. Story strands, yes--emotional ones too, and tonal. There isn't an extraneous word or misstep. That's as much due to Raskin's craft as to the book's small size. An absolute delight.
Matthew Hodge
I read this after reading the phenomenal Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It's not quite as good, but you can see that her trademark is quirky characters, convoluted plots and all the threads coming together at the end. All in all, highly satisfying.
Savannah Kundo
I love this book. I love Dickory Dock. I think I love this book more as an adult than as a child, perhaps from being able to relate and better understand what was happening through the story.
Meghan
I LOVE The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and so I was very excited to find this gem at an independent book store in Iowa City. Although not as good as The Westing Game, it was exciting and interesting.

Dickory Dock takes a job as a painter's assistant and in doing so finds herself wrapped up in various mysteries. As is Raskin's usual MO, not a single person is who they seem and characters change names and identifying markers on a constant basis. It was fun to try to out guess what was happening.

I...more
Annah
Dickory Dock and mystery inside a mystery. Definitely liked it better than The Westing Game, but there's something about Raskin that leaves me feeling detached and underwhelmed. But I'll admit she's a master at disguise and cleverness and bet-you-didn't-think-of-this-twist-though.
Jamie
Picked this up the other day, forgetting that I'd read it before. Just as delightful the second time around.
Melissa
Great juvenile mystery. Dickory Dock helps solve mysteries around art/disguises.
April
I loved mysteries as a kid, and this would have been fun to read then!
Sem
Raskin must have been channelling Harry Stephen Keeler when she wrote this.
Andy
As a puzzle/mystery-fixated kid, I loved all of Ellen Raskin's books for their clearly genuine and considered affection for puzzling; she knew the savor of clues that hide in plain sight, and was able to extend the ambience of mystery in both whimsical and serious directions at once. This one, basically about people as puzzles and artists as detectives, would seem to be a perfect match for her skills, but the details are hard to take seriously and the characters are rather lifeless.
Gabriel C.
As I understand it, this predates the Westing Game (goodreads search is messed up and I can't link to it) by some time, and it shows. You see the same sculpted plot, but the twists are too obvious and a good portion of what goes on is too heavy-handed. Despite its flaws, this is a worthwhile read for a Raskin fan--it provides an excellent slice of the development of her style and has several very bright moments as well.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
A volunteer at my school told me about this book, her favorite from childhood, in hopes I could help her come up with its name. Melissa at BAW knew it, I shared it with the volunteer, and life was sweet. What a delight it was to receive this book from Melissa as my un-birthday gift! This was such a great read that I was left feeling bewildered: Why do so many fantastic children’s books go out of print?



Erin
THE WESTING GAME is one of my all-time favorite books, and I've been looking for this title for years....I know I'll read it tomorrow.


Well, it was no THE WESTING GAME or FIGGS AND PHANTOMS, but it's Raskin, so it is still better-than-average kidlit. The mysteries weren't ones that children could try to figure out themselves, and only Dickory Dock was a fully fleshed-out character.
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Ellen Raskin was a writer, illustrator, and designer. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up during the Great Depression. She primarily wrote for children. She received the 1979 Newbery Medal for her 1978 book, The Westing Game.

Ms. Raskin was also an accomplished graphic artist. She designed dozens of dust jackets for books, including the first edition of Madeleine L'Engle's classic A W...more
More about Ellen Raskin...
The Westing Game The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) Figgs & Phantoms Nothing Ever Happens On My Block Spectacles

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