Hi y’all! I hope you’re having a great weekend. Today I am back with another review. I am almost caught up with my reviews! Finally! I have been behind all year and I am so excited to catch up–at least momentarily.
I am reviewing Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt today. This is the first time I have read this novel. Although, I have seen the movie several times (love it!). The movie and the novel are markedly different. First of all, Winnie is a child, not a teenager in the book. Just be prepared for that. 🙂
I include several plot spoilers in this review because I assume most people know the basic plot of the novel from the movie. Read on with that in mind!
- I did not know this book was first published in 1975. It’s a lot older than I thought it was. I wonder how it would be different if first published now.
- I was surprised at first to find the novel in the children’s section of the library. But that is certainly where it belongs. The tone and story are simple and easy to understand. Also, it really is a short novel–only almost 150 pages total.
- I was surprised that the novel takes place over only a few days. I would have liked an epilogue from Winnie’s point of view to get more details about the time that passes after those initial events.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt follows the crossroads of the stories of Winnie Foster, a sheltered child who runs away into the wood her family owns, and the Tucks, a family who come together every 10 years and who share a unique secret. Their worlds are thrown together one August when Winnie discovers their secret–the Tucks have not aged since they drank from a spring in the wood. But a stranger in a yellow suit has also discovered their secret, and he wants to exploit it. As Winnie’s friendship with the Tucks blossoms and is tested, Winnie must decide which future she wants.
The characters are simple and likable in this novel. Because the book is so short, we don’t get a lot of details about any of them. I enjoyed the simple descriptions of the characters–the simplicity of who was good and who was evil. I feel like I can picture what they look like and how they interact with others. I can see Mae twisting her music box, Jesse laughing, and Winnie taking in their hectic but warm home. You can’t help but cheer for Winnie when she finally decides to leave the fence. And you want the Tucks to find peace and happiness in their fate.
Lately, I have really been appreciating the simple storytelling and narrative voice of children’s books. This one is no different. The writing is just that–simple and straightforward. And since it’s only about 150 pages, I flew through it in a few hours. But there is something cozy and inviting about the simplicity of this story and the tone. We don’t get a bunch of background on everyone. We don’t even get to see what happens after the few days recounted in the novel. We do get thrust into the heat of those few August days. We feel like we are there exploring with Winnie and experiencing everything in the the Tuck home–from the pancakes for dinner to the lumpy sofa as a bed–for the first time. The story and the tone are not complicated. But they are endearing and enjoyable.
The plot is similarly simple. We get only a few days of action. But they are certainly action packed with the Tucks taking Winnie to their home, the encounters with the man in the yellow suit and the jail break. For me, most of the plot twists are fairly predictable because I’ve seen the movie (except I’m always a bit surprised by Mae’s heroics to keep the yellow hat man from taking Winnie. Is it bad to call hitting him with a shotgun heroic?). Again, I enjoyed the easiness of the plot because I expected it. This is a children’s novel after all. It doesn’t offer complex themes and includes very little philosophical discussion (Tuck and Winnie’s conversation on the lake is about all we get). But that was refreshing and different and fun.
While this is a children’s book, it is also rather profound. Some of my favorite quotes are also great lessons about life.
“Nothing ever seems interesting when it belongs to you–only when it doesn’t.”
“Life’s got to be lived, no matter how long or short. … you got to take what comes.”
“Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way it is.”
“You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.”
Tuck Everlasting, pages 7, 54, 62 and 64
The ending surprised me because it is a bit different that the movie–only a little bit different though. And I still would like so many more details about what happens to everyone in the years between that first week of August and the epilogue. What did Winnie do in her life? Where were the Tucks? How have they all changed and progressed?
This is a book I hope to read with my children one day. And I think it is definitely one that most kids can read easily. A fun, simple novel that contrasted nicely with my more complex, deeper Les Miserables and Sense and Sensibility reading. I recommend this one!
What are some of your favorite children’s novels?