“Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” – Natalie Babbitt
I remember when I first heard Babbitt's 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 the passing of 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 published nearly 50 years ago. 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.
Also 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. 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.”
While none of us live forever, Babbitt’s writing most certainly will. And I suppose that’s the hope of all who take pen in hand and put down an idea for others to share.
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