Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit

In this quiet book about living and dying, a young girl struggles to understand what death can do to a life. Winnie Foster, a ten-year-old girl from a prosperous family, wants only to do something meaningful with her life. Through an accidental kidnapping, as well as a villainous man’s greed for eternity and prosperity, Winnie learns that the threat of mortality is a blessing to life, not a hindrance.

Natalie Babbitt’s quiet style provides a comforting and inspiring view of death to young children. Her constant reference to the “deadening” and “smothering” August heat makes the story so much more believable. In this book, all of the adults seem childish to young Winnie’s eyes, regardless of age or experience. In fact, the only human who acts like an adult is the yellow-coated villain. I believe this is because he seems to have no fear of anyone or anything, while Winnie, her family, and the Tucks all know and work with fear in some shape or form. As a book that deals primarily with fear, death, and separation, Tuck Everlasting does not scare a child. Instead, Babbitt provides a stable, acceptable, and settled foundation upon which children can learn about and cope with those fears.

Personally, I was not as impressed with this book, but I believe that is a matter of taste and life experience. I enjoyed almost every aspect of the book, so it’s difficult to pinpoint where my interest falls short. I believe it is because the book is almost too quiet, too normal, too inconsequential for my taste. But I also believe that this book would provide unspeakable comfort for an elementary or middle school student who had recently experienced a death or a great fear.

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