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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Story Everlasting

I remember when I first heard Tuck Everlasting, and it wasn’t as a kid (I’m too old).  It was, however, with my own children when they were kids.  We were on our way, driving, from Minnesota to New England and our oldest, Kari, was about 10 – the age of Winnie Foster, the protagonist in this marvelous book.  Daughter Becky was about 6.  But we all were mesmerized by the story, being read to us by my wife Susan to help wile away the long miles.

It turned into one of the fastest driving trips ever as we were all so caught up in the story and actually looked forward to the drive so we could continue to listen to the book – although I’m not remembering how well Susan’s voice held up (must’ve been okay).  Tuck is a fantasy children’s novel by Natalie Babbitt and this year marks 40 years since it was published. It explores the concept of immotality and the reasons why it might not be as desirable as it first appears to be. It has sold over two million copies and has been called a classic of modern children's literature.

Adapted as a Broadway musical, twice as a movie, and three times on audio books, it has earned a lasting reputation as one of the all-time best 100 books for children, and for its numerous awards.  One of the more interesting awards is for the chapter in the book where the Tuck father Angus explains to 10-year-old Winnie why eternal life is not all it’s cracked up to be and why she would be better off following the more traditional “cycles of life.”

Natalie Babbitt

NPR’s “All Things Considered” program recently featured Babbitt, now 82, talking about both the long-standing success of her book and that particular chapter.   She reads a portion of it and makes comments.  Here’s a link.  http://www.npr.org/2015/01/29/382383351/the-gift-of-eternal-shelf-life-tuck-everlasting-turns-40

While neither the author nor any of us will live forever, Babbitt’s writing most certainly will.  It’s the hope of all who take pen in hand and put down an idea for others to share.

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