Friday, January 30, 2015

Classic MG Read-along of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Tuck Everlasting readalong
January's pick for the Classic Middle Grade Read along with the Midnight Garden was the Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  You can follow along or join in the discussion at or #tmgreadalong on Twitter.  

84981 This was the cover on the edition that I read, but I like the 40th Anniversary one so much better.  I believe it captures the essence of Winnie.  What do you think?

From Goodreads: "Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune."  

This was my first time reading Tuck Everlasting and I absolutely adored Babbitt's beautiful descriptions of the setting, and the imagery she conjures with phrases like "The sky was a ragged blaze of red and pink and orange, and its double trembled on the surface of the pond like color spilled from a paintbox.  The sun was dropping fast now, a soft red sliding egg yolk, and already to the east there was a darkening to purple."  It's the kind of story that I know I will be reflecting on long after reading it.  

Winnie is this lovely 10 year-old girl who is talking to a toad about her reasons for wanting to run away from home.  It wasn't initially clear to my why Winnie wanted to run away from home.  That is until she said,  "I'd be nice to have a new name, to start with, one that's not all worn out from being called so much."  It's then that I really began to feel for poor Winnie and her desire to just have a moment of peace from her overbearing mother and grandmother.  It isn't a wonder that she goes off looking to explore the music coming from the woods, curiosity seems to get the best of her.  Babbitt does a wonderful job of illustrating Winnie's struggles over being afraid to leave, but needing to find out what was making the noise.  It's then that Winnie see's seventeen-year-old Jesse drinking water by a tree.   Jessie is waiting for his older brother and mother, and once they find out that Winnie saw him drinking the water and she wants to drink from the spring as well,  they decide to kidnap her.  Winnie's kidnapping is not only to protect their secret but as a means to explain things to her.   After Winnie is kidnapped by the Tuck's, she goes through a range of emotions from shock, to fear, to sadness, understanding, happiness and loneliness.   The hardest one to read about was when Winnie says she wants to go home.  When it struck her that she wasn't going to be sleeping in her bed with her pajamas on, it was like a child who is really excited about having a sleepover and then nighttime hits and everything becomes scary all of a sudden.  I love the quiet way the story is told and how Winnie moves from being afraid of the Tuck's to adoring each of them.  

 I also loved how there was a large distinction between the ages of each of the characters and the way that they looked at mortality/or their immortality in the Tuck's case differently.  It certainly highlights the differences between youth, teenage, middle aged and elderly.  The idea that immortality may be a curse and not a blessing is a very interesting one to explore.  Winnie being the youngest, initially was thinking of Jesse's handsome looks and had not given much thought to death and dying before. What child really does at this age?   It left me sad that she was faced with all of these thoughts,  it seemed like a pretty tough topic for someone so young to be dealt with, but in a lot of ways one that children seem to hear about in the news sadly now-a-days anyways.   Jesse, envisioned that Winnie would drink the magical water and join him when she turned seventeen.   He sort of represents the wanderlust of living forever, the idea that you could go anywhere, see anything you want and be whatever you want. Miles had the experiences of being married and having children who grew up past him in age, he seemed to have a more practical way of looking at things and Ma and Pa tended to the day to day happenings and shy away from people.  I felt the most for Pa Tuck, who was envious of those that could die and move on from this world.  He was still one of my favorite characters and I especially enjoyed when he looked at Winnie like she was "an unexpected present, wrapped in pretty paper and tied with ribbons..." Although, Ma is pretty courageous for standing up to the man in the yellow suit too.  

**As a side note I saw a video in which the author describes the inspiration for her book and is reading from a chapter.  Natalie Babbitt reading from Tuck Everlasting   She says that "time is like a wheel and we need to accept the pattern that we've been given and see the good things about it and not worry about the changes that come to us because of it."  Overall, I think it sums the book up pretty well.  Would I want to live forever?  As a child most defiantly, I'd be like Jesse and want to explore the world.  As an adult, I think it would depend on whether or not I would be on my own or not. Having an eternity to spend with the love of my life and best friend sounds appealing, it seems like that would be hard to pass up.  Yet I tend to weigh the pros and cons, so would need more time to think about it.   

Thanks again to the ladies at The Midnight Garden for another wonderful classic read.  


  1. I read this book as a 40 something adult and absolutely loved it. It asks lots of important questions about life and living. I was unhappy with the Disney romanticized movie version.

    1. Totally agree, the book was so much better. I've really enjoyed visiting and re-reading these classics over the past year. Thanks for stopping by.