Category Archives: Natalie Babbit

Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt

Sorry… this should have gone up yesterday but as wordpress drafted it rather than scheduled it didn’t show up and as I was working a 15 hour day for a charity fashion show I could do nothing about it, its all here now though.

Have you ever been in a bookshop and seen a novel with the quote “the worldwide bestselling classic” only to then think to yourself “I have never heard of this book before in my life”? Well that is exactly what happened with me when I saw Tuck Everlasting one a shelf a few weeks ago. I honestly had not heard of it before however I have mentioned it to a few people in passing and they have got all excitable about it and so the other afternoon I decided to sit down and have a look at the first few pages. Two hours later the book was finished…

Tuck Everlasting is the tale of both the Tuck family and Winnie Forster. Winnie Forster is a very precocious ten year old girl who is slightly fed up of being at home and is starting to test her freedom. In fact she is resolute that she will runaway as she is always telling the toad at the bottom of the garden and yet inevitably putting the event off. One day after a man in a yellow coat comes to the house they hear what Winnie’s Grandmother says is elf music and the next day a highly dubious Winnie goes off into the woods her family own, but are out of bound to Winnie, to try and find the source of the music. I utterly loved Winnie as a character and could have happily read much more of her than the 140 pages of this book.

Winnie did not believe in fairytales. She had never longed for a magic wand, did not expect to marry a prince, and was scornful – most of the time – of her grandmother’s elves. So now she sat, mouth open, wide-eyed, not knowing what to make of this extraordinary story. It couldn’t – not a bit of it – be true.

What she finds are not elves but instead a young boy, Jesse Tuck, who is drinking from a stream hidden in the wood. When a thirsty Winnie goes to drink from the stream he won’t let her and once his family arrive so worried are they that Winnie has seen the stream they kidnap her. The reason is she now knows of the stream that once you drink from makes you live and stay the same age forever and never die. Once Winnie knows the truth she thinks it would be wonderful, however as the Tuck family show her living forever has its dark and downsides too.

This book is actually a children’s classic, it is one that is definitely is a cross over book though. I am unashamed to add that I was completely and utterly spellbound by the book. It has all the makings of a modern fable and fairytale; you have the inquisitive young girl, the water of eternal life, a boy who can live forever, a very good-in-a-dark-way baddie (beware men in yellow), a few twists and of course a toad.

I really liked Natalie Babbitt’s writing style from the line “the house was so proud of itself that you wanted to make a lot of noise as you passed and maybe even throw a rock or two” it just made me chuckle. Though there are a few laughs in the book, generally with the wonderful Mae Tuck of Winnie, there are some very dark and very sad moments. In fact how children cope with the ending I don’t know as I will admit it left me shocked and with a tear in my eye, I will say no more. This is a wonderful book and will take you on a wonderful journey, not only into the magical and fictional but back to the wonderful fables and fairytales of your youth.

It took me back to when reading for me was a lot more “magical”. I know that sounds corny and I don’t mean that now books I read don’t keep me spell bound but this brought out my inner child I guess. Back when I was young books seemed much more gentle in terms of magic than the full on style that a Harry Potter (I like Harry Potter just so you know) can deliver. I suppose the best way to describe this would be ‘simply spellbinding’ there’s no gimmicks just wonderful story telling. For a small book it also certainly packs one heck of a punch!

Its made me wonder if I have now missed a huge amount of children’s classics that are considered cross-over’s as I never read books like this when I was younger as I really went off reading during school and am now wondering if I am too old for Five Children and It, The Wizard of Oz and children’s classics of old though I did read Alice in Wonderland earlier in the year and really enjoy it. Maybe it’s too late now? Maybe I am too old now to play catch up; hmm it’s a difficult thought that one and a slightly depressing one too! Have any of you read this? What other children’s classics would you recommend? Is there an age where we just shouldn’t be reading children’s books anymore?

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Filed under Bloomsbury Publishing, Books of 2009, Natalie Babbit, Review