Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tuck Everlasting

Author:  Natalie Babbitt
Published: 1975

The idea of everlasting life is definitely not a new idea.  It is a fascinating
thinking about the possibility of living forever, perhaps finding the sorcerer's stone or getting a bite from a vampire.  This story has the Tuck family finding the "fountain of youth."

The story starts in August, "August is motionless and hot."  You get the impression that time is standing still.  It really is standing still for all of the main characters.  Winnie, a child, feels stuck in her own home and yard.  She rarely ventures out of her fenced yard, not even into the woods that are right next to her home and owned by her family.  It is in those woods that time actually stops for the Tuck family. 87 years earlier, that family had been walking through those woods and drank water from a brook bubbling under a giant ash tree. All four members of the family and the horse drank from the brook.  The cat did not drink and eventually died.  That was when the family realized that the water was what kept them young.  Each family member views this situation differently.  The mom, Mae, sometimes is able to forget, Jesse, the 17 year old boy, is enjoying his time, the older brother, Miles, suffers because he had a wife who left him and his children are now older than he is, and the father longs for his own death.  The family is very loving toward each other and they live simple lives because they must hide themselves from others.

One day, Winnie decides to leave her home and walk into the woods.  It is there that she meets Jesse and spots him drinking from the brook.  She is thirsty and wants a drink too, but he will not let her drink.  Then, with the help of Mae and Miles, Winnie is kidnapped.  They do not intend on keeping Winnie for very long, only long enough to share their secret and explain to her that she should stay away from the brook.  Immortality is not all it is cracked up to be.

A stranger overhears Mae, Miles, and Jesse explaining the brook and everlasting life to Winnie.  He decides that he wants to own the woods and the brook and to become rich from the fountain of youth.  He visits Winnie's family and explains that he knows where she is and will save her if the family gives him the woods.  They agree. 

The Tuck's must find a way to keep their secret and to keep Winnie from drinking the water.  The Tucks are doomed to live forever, but they are compassionate and do not want others to suffer their same fate.

The descriptions in the story make it so easy to visualize.  I can easily imagine the Tuck's cottage, see the dust, smell the couch, and feel the love in their home.  I can understand how Winnie comes to love her captors because they are good people and only want what is best for others.

I would recommend this book for higher level readers in the 3rd grade or for a read-aloud in class.  The writing is not complicated and the main ideas are entertaining:  compassion, family, immortality. 

Check this book out from the library.
It Should Have Won a Newbery
Study Guide
Movie Trailer

1 comment:

JJordan said...

I used this book with my some of my 5th grader. It was really interesting to see who understood Winnie's choice in the end. Several of them thought living forever was the most important thing.