Friday, November 25, 2016

Read Kids Classics

I jumped on board for the 2016 Jump Into A Book ReadKidsClassics challenge.
Valerie Budayr, children's book author, publisher, co-founder of Multicultural Children's Book Day and creator of jumpintoabook site originated this brilliant idea to encourage all ages to read children's classics. So far I've enjoyed
March "Little Prince"
April "Wind in the Willows"
May:James and the Giant Peach"
June "Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
took a summer break and in
September enjoyed rereading "Anne of Green Gables"
October "Little Women"

It's November and time for a review of "Tuck Everlasting, " a children's classic.  

I was inspired to reread “Tuck Everlasting” after reading an obituary in the New York Times. The author, Natalie Babbitt, recently died Oct. 31, 2016. Babbitt was not only a talented writer but also an illustrator. She illustrated some of  Valerie Worth's children's poetry books.

“Tuck Everlasting” is an American children’s novel published in 1975. It explores the concept of immortality. It is a cautionary tale that has sold over two million copies and has been called a classic of modern children's literature. “Tuck Everlasting” has been loved by children and parents for its honest, intelligent grappling with aging and death.

"Tuck Everlasting" has inspired two feature films, released in 1981 and 2002 and three times into unabridged audio and has also been adapted into a Broadway musical.

During Babbitt’s prolific literary career that has spanned four decades she has produced some 20 books, and illustrated over 10 books. Some of her accolades include Newberry Honor Award in 1971 and in 2013 the inaugural E.B. White Award.

Babbitt was inspired to write Tuck when her 4 year old daughter woke from a nap crying because she was scared of dying. This was one of my favorite books to use in the classroom with fifth graders. It generated many interesting discussions on the universal themes of death and immortality.

The storyline focus, doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, finds the Tuck family wandering 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. Angus Tuck and his family have been guarding their secret of longevity for many years. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune. Winnie is terrified of death. Angus, the family patriarch who considers immortality a curse for their family, tries to reassure Winnie that the great natural wheel of life must turn. They encourage her not to drink the water from the spring.

Babbitt has written a highly engaging narrative filled with beautiful and descriptive language. It’s rather a quiet read with an emotional pull that draws the reader in. I loved Winnie's story, and seeing how just stepping outside of her fence made her world seem so much bigger until finally it's gigantic when she reaches the Tuck's cabin. Coming across Jesse Tuck in the woods and subsequently meeting the rest of the Tuck family showed Winnie a lot about life and choices.

The characters in this charming book do not disappoint. Obviously I liked Winnie because she knows that she's not extraordinarily special. She's just Winnie Foster - the girl with an overprotective family, the girl who's not allowed to leave her yard and the girl who talks to toads. Jesse and his brother, Miles Tuck, are fun characters, but quite honestly I feel like I didn't really get to know them very well in the book, especially Miles. I wouldn't have minded a few more pages for Babbitt to explore them a little more. The man in the yellow suit is a mysterious, yet an intriguing character. I liked how Babbitt characterizes him, and I'm sure many kids will be able to figure him out before the conclusion of the novel. My favorite characters in the book were Tuck and Mae. They seemed like they genuinely cared about Winnie and her decision, although at one point I was concerned that they wanted to keep her.

"Tuck Everlasting" is a book that all children should read in the later years of elementary school (or earlier if they are on the advanced track). Its short enough for kids to read in a few days, maybe even one day. It contains some important life questions to discuss such as is immortality a curse or a blessing?

Something for you to think about:
Do you think immortality would be a curse or a blessing? What if you were given the choice to age normally or halt your life at this moment and stay that way forever just by drinking a bit of water?


  1. TUCK EVERLASTING is one of my favorite books for young people. I think it is so profound in its treatment of the the issue of mortality (and immortality). What perhaps seems at first to the reader to be a great gift turns out, in my view, to be a curse. The ending of this book is unforgettably poignant. Thanks, Sue Ready, for this thoughtful review of a small masterpiece.

  2. I've never read this book. I def. need to put it on my "must read" list. Thanks for always participating and supporting, Susan :)

  3. Great book choice, Sue! Thanks for being such and reliable and willing participant in #readkidsclassics :)


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