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The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing older.
“Beautiful and descriptive language is the strength of Babbitt’s fantasy about Winnie and her encounter with the Tuck family, who cause her—and readers—to ponder an important question: What would it be like to live forever?”—Booklist
“Probably the best work of our best children’s novelist.”—Harper’s
“A fearsome and beautifully written book that can’t be put down or forgotten.”—The New Yorker
“Exciting and excellently written.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Natalie Babbitt’s great skill is spinning fantasy with the lilt and sense of timeless wisdom of the old fairy tales. . . . It lingers on, haunting your waking hours, making you ponder.”—The Boston Globe
“With its serious intentions and light touch the story is, like the Tucks, timeless.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“This book is as shapely, crisp, sweet, and tangy as a summer-ripe pear.”—Entertainment Weekly
On the other side of the wood, the sense of easiness dissolved. The road no longer belonged to the cows. It became, instead, and rather abruptly, the property of people. And all at once the sun was uncomfortably hot, the dust oppressive, and the meager grass along its edges somewhat ragged and forlorn. On the left stood the first house, a square and solid cottage with a touch-me-not appearance, surrounded by grass cut painfully to the quick and enclosed by a capable iron fence some four feet high which clearly said, "Move on-we don't want you here." Sothe road went humbly by and made its way, past cottages more and more frequent but less and less forbidding, into the village. But the village doesn't matter, except for the jailhouse and the gallows. The first house only is important; the first house, the road, and the wood.
There was something strange about the wood. If the look of the first house suggested that you'd better pass it by, so did the look of the wood, but for quite a different reason. 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. But the wood had a sleeping, otherworld appearance that made you want to speak in whispers. This, at least, is what the cows must have thought: "Let it keep its peace; we won't disturb it."
Whether the people felt that way about the wood or not is difficult to say. There were some, perhaps, who did. But for the most part the people followed the road around the wood because that was the way it led. There was no road through the wood. And anyway, for the people, there was another reason to leave the wood to itself: it belonged to the Fosters, the owners of the touch-me-not cottage, and was therefore private property in spite of the fact that it lay outside the fence and was perfectly accessible.
The ownership of land is an odd thing when you come to think of it. How deep, after all, can it go? If a person owns a piece of land, does he own it all the way down, in ever narrowing dimensions, till it meets all other pieces at the center of the earth? Or does ownership consist only of a thin crust under which the friendly worms have never heard of trespassing?
In any case, the wood, being on top-except, of course, for its roots-was owned bud and bough by the Fosters in the touch-me-not cottage, and if they never went there, if they never wandered in among the trees, well, that was their affair. Winnie, the only child of the house, never went there, though she sometimes stood inside the fence, carelessly banging a stick against the iron bars, and looked at it. But she had never been curious about it. Nothing ever seems interesting when it belongs to you-only when it doesn't.
And what is interesting, anyway, about a slim few acres of trees? There will be a dimness shot through with bars of sunlight, a great many squirrels and birds, a deep, damp mattress of leaves on the ground, and all the other things just as familiar if not so pleasant-things like spiders, thorns, and grubs.
In the end, however, it was the cows who were responsible for the wood's isolation, and the cows, through some wisdom they were not wise enough to know that they possessed, were very wise indeed. If they had made their road through the wood instead of around it, then the people would have followed the road. The people would have noticed the giant ash tree at the center of the wood, and then, in time. they'd have noticed the little spring bubbling up among its roots in spite of the pebbles piled there to conceal it. And that would have been a disaster so immense that this weary old earth, owned or not to its fiery core, would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin.
Mae's husband, on his back beside her, did not stir. He was still asleep, and the melancholy creases that folded his daytime face were smoothed and slack. He snored gently, and for a moment the corners of his mouth turned upward in a smile. Tuck almost never smiled except in sleep.
Mae sat up in bed and looked at him tolerantly. "The boys'll be home tomorrow," she said again, a little more loudly.
Tuck twitched and the smile vanished. He opened his eyes. "Why'd you have to wake me up?" he sighed. "I was having that dream again, the good one where we're all in heaven and never heard of Treegap."
Mae sat there frowning, a great potato of a woman with a round, sensible face and calm brown eyes. "It's no use having that dream," she said. "Nothing's going to change."
"You tell me that every day," said Tuck, turning away from her onto his side. "Anyways, I can't help what I dream."
"Maybe not," said Mae. "But, all the same, you should've got used to things by now."
Tuck groaned. "I'm going back to sleep," he said.
"Not me," said Mae. "I'm going to take the horse and go down to the wood to meet them."
"The boys, Tuck! Our sons. I'm going to ride down to meet them."
"Better not do that," said Tuck.
"I know," said Mae, "but I just can't wait to see them. Anyways, it's ten years since I went to Treegap. No one'll remember me. I'll ride in at sunset, just to the wood. I won't go into the village. But, even if someone did see me, they won't remember. They never did before, now, did they?"
"Suit yourself, then," said Tuck into his pillow. "I'm going back to sleep."
Mae Tuck climbed out of bed and began to dress: three petticoats, a rusty brown skirt with one enormous pocket, an old cotton jacket, and a knitted shawl which she pinned across her bosom with a tarnished metal brooch. The sounds of her dressing were so familiar to Tuck that he could say, without opening his eyes, "You don't need that shawl in the middle of the summer."
Mae ignored this observation. Instead, she said, "Will you be all right? We won't get back till late tomorrow."
Tuck rolled over and made a rueful face at her. "What in the world could possibly happen to me?"
"That's so," said Mae. "I keep forgetting."
"I don't," said Tuck. "Have a nice time." And in a moment he was asleep again.
Mae sat on the edge of the bed and pulled on a pair of short leather boots so thin and soft with age it was a wonder they held together. Then she stood and took from the washstand beside the bed a little square-shaped object, a music box painted with roses and lilies of the valley. It was the one pretty thing she owned and she never went anywhere without it. Her fingers strayed to the winding key on its bottom, but glancing at the sleeping Tuck, she shook her head, gave the little box a pat, and dropped it into her pocket. Then, last of all, she pulled down over her ears a blue straw hat with a drooping, exhausted brim.
But, before she put on the hat, she brushed her gray-brown hair and wound it into a bun at the back of her neck. She did this quickly and skillfully without a single glance in the mirror. Mae Tuck didn't need a mirror, though she had one propped up on the washstand. She knew very well what she would see in it; her reflection had long since ceased to interest her. For Mae Tuck, and her husband, and Miles and Jesse, too, had all looked exactly the same for eighty-seven years.
It was hard to know whether the toad was listening or not. Certainly, Winnie had given it good reason to ignore her. She had come out to the fence, very cross, very near the boiling point on a day that was itself near to boiling, and had noticed the toad at once. It was the only living thing in sight except for a stationary cloud of hysterical gnats suspended in the heat above the road. Winnie had found some pebbles at the base of the fence and, for lack of any other way to show how she felt, had flung one at the toad. It missed altogether, as she'd fully intended it should, but she made a game of it anyway, tossing pebbles at such an angle that they passed through the gnat cloud on their way to the toad. The gnats were too frantic to notice these intrusions, however, and since every pebble missed its final mark, the toad continued to squat and grimace without so much as a twitch. Possibly it felt resentful. Or perhaps it was only asleep. In either case, it gave her not a glance when at last she ran out of pebbles and sat down to tell it her troubles.
"Look here, toad," she said, thrusting her arms through the bars of the fence and plucking at the weeds on the other side. "I don't think I can stand it much longer."
At this moment a window at the front of the cottage was flung open and a thin voice-her grandmother's-piped, "Winifred! Don't sit on that dirty grass. You'll stain your boots and stockings."
And another, firmer voice-her mother's-added, "Come in now, Winnie. Right away. You'll get heat stroke out there on a day like this. And your lunch is ready."
"See?" said Winnie to the toad. "That's just what I mean. It's like that every minute. If I had a sister or a brother, there'd be someone else for them to watch. But, as it is, there's only me. I'm tired of being looked at all the time. I want to be by myself for a change." She leaned her forehead against the bars and after a short silence went on in a thoughtful tone. "I'm not exactly sure what I'd do, you know, but something interesting-something that's all mine. Something that would make some kind of difference in the world. It'd be nice to have a new name, to start with, one that's not all worn out from being called so much. And I might even decide to have a pet. Maybe a big old toad, like you, that I could keep in a nice cage with lots of grass, and ..."
At this the toad stirred and blinked. It gave a heave of muscles and plopped its heavy mudball of a body a few inches farther away from her.
"I suppose you're right," said Winnie. "Then you'd be just the way I am, now. Why should you have to be cooped up in a cage, too? It'd be better if I could be like you, out in the open and making up my own mind. Do you know they've hardly ever let me out of this yard all by myself? I'll never be able to do anything important if I stay in here like this. I expect I'd better run away." She paused and peered anxiously at the toad to see how it would receive this staggering idea, but it showed no signs of interest. "You think I wouldn't dare, don't you?" she said accusingly. "I will, though. You'll see. Maybe even first thing in the morning, while everyone's still asleep."
"Winnie!" came the firm voice from the window.
"All right! I'm coming!" she cried, exasperated, and then added quickly, "I mean, I'll be right there, Mama." She stood up, brushing at her legs where bits of itchy grass clung to her stockings.
The toad, as if it saw that their interview was over, stirred again, bunched up, and bounced itself clumsily off toward the wood. Winnie watched it go. "Hop away, toad," she called after it. "You'll see. Just wait till morning."
He was remarkably tall and narrow, this stranger standing there. His long chin faded off into a thin, apologetic beard, but his suit was a jaunty yellow that seemed to glow a little in the fading light. A black hat dangled from one hand, and as Winnie came toward him, he passed the other through his dry, gray hair, settling it smoothly. "Well, now," he said in a light voice. "Out for fireflies, are you?"
"Yes," said Winnie.
"A lovely thing to do on a summer evening," said the man richly. "A lovely entertainment. I used to do it myself when I was your age. But of course that was a long, long time ago." He laughed, gesturing in self-deprecation with long, thin fingers. His tall body moved continuously; a foot tapped, a shoulder twitched. And it moved in angles, rather jerkily. But at the same time he had a kind of grace, like a well-handled marionette. Indeed, he seemed almost to hang suspended there in the twilight. But Winnie, though she was half charmed, was suddenly reminded of the stiff black ribbons they had hung on the door of the cottage for her grandfather's funeral. She frowned and looked at the man more closely. But his smile seemed perfectly all right, quite agreeable and friendly.
"Is this your house?" asked the man, folding his arms now and leaning against the gate.
"Yes," said Winnie. "Do you want to see my father?"
"Perhaps. In a bit," said the man. "But I'd like to talk to you first. Have you and your family lived here long?"
"Oh, yes," said Winnie. "We've lived here forever."
"Forever," the man echoed thoughtfully.
It was not a question, but Winnie decided to explain anyway. "Well, not forever, of course, but as long as there've been any people here. My grandmother was born here. She says this was all trees once, just one big forest everywhere around, but it's mostly all cut down now. Except for the wood."
"I see," said the man, pulling at his beard. "So of course you know everyone, and everything that goes on."
"Well, not especially," said Winnie. "At least, I don't. Why?"
The man lifted his eyebrows. "Oh," he said, "I'm looking for someone. A family."
"I don't know anybody much," said Winnie, with a shrug. "But my father might. You could ask him."
"I believe I shall," said the man. "I do believe I shall."
At this moment the cottage door opened, and in the lamp glow that spilled across the grass, Winnie's grandmother appeared. "Winifred? Who are you talking to out there?"
"It's a man, Granny," she called back. "He says he's looking for someone."
"What's that?" said the old woman. She picked up her skirts and came down the path to the gate. "What did you say he wants?"
The man on the other side of the fence bowed slightly. "Good evening, madam," he said. "How delightful to see you looking so fit."
"And why shouldn't I be fit?" she retorted, peering at him through the fading light. His yellow suit seemed to surprise her, and she squinted suspiciously. "We haven't met, that I can recall. Who are you? Who are you looking for?"
The man answered neither of these questions. Instead, he said, "This young lady tells me you've lived here for a long time, so I thought you would probably know everyone who comes and goes."
The old woman shook her head. "I don't know everyone," she said, "nor do I want to. And I don't stand outside in the dark discussing such a thing with strangers. Neither does Winifred. So ..."
And then she paused. For, through the twilight sounds of crickets and sighing trees, a faint, surprising wisp of music came floating to them, and all three turned toward it, toward the wood. It was a tinkling little melody, and in a few moments it stopped.
"My stars!" said Winnie's grandmother, her eyes round. "I do believe it's come again, after all these years!" She pressed her wrinkled hands together, forgetting the man in the yellow suit. "Did you hear that, Winifred? That's it! That's the elf music I told you about. Why, it's been ages since I heard it last. And this is the first time you've ever heard it, isn't it? Wait till we tell your father!" And she seized Winnie's hand and turned to go back into the cottage.
"Wait!" said the man at the gate. He had stiffened, and his voice was eager. "You've heard that music before, you say?"
Excerpted from Tuck Everlasting by NATALIE BABBITT Copyright © 2000 by Natalie Babbitt and Betsy Hearne. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 3, 2008
This book is for all ages and it makes one stop and think....how should I live my life before I get to my final destination. I read the book a few years ago and still think about the bottom line of the book on a regular basis. Think of how much the Tuck family could have done while living forever - how much good they could have done for others. We're all in our 'rented' space for a brief period on earth - make the best of our time and don't be idle with the gifts you have to share with others. A great book for middle schoolers through adults - I highly recommend the book.
46 out of 50 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2008
This book review is about a book titled Tuck Everlasting. It is by an author by the name of Natalie Babbitt. The story is about a family ¿the Tucks¿ who drink from a magic spring, and become immortal. The Tuck family meets a little girl named Winnie Foster who comes upon their secret. So they take Winnie, and told her what happens when you drink from the magic spring. During all of this, a mysterious man tries to steal the magic spring water, and sell it for a profit. If you want to find out any more, I guess you¿ll have to read the book for yourself.<BR/> I thought this book was very unique. Natalie Babbitt uses very descriptive words. When you read this book you will feel like you are right there with the Tucks. When the book describes Winnie Foster it will remind you of when you were a child, always running around and exploring. I believe the message to this story is ¿Be careful what you wish for¿. That is the theme of the story because some people in the real world ask for things they wish they had, but they never know how bad it could be if they did get what they want. This is a good but unique book.<BR/> If you like books really unique story lines, and good endings this is a book for you. Tuck Everlasting makes you think about life. What would you do if you could live forever? Would you think it is a good thing, or would you think that it is horrible that you could never die? What do you live for if you can live forever? This book is one of the best books you will read in your life time. Tuck Everlasting is a book for you!
22 out of 28 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2009
I read the book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. It is fun, magic and fantasy all in one book. The book is about a ten year old girl named Winnie Foster. She has a really boring life living behind a fence in the woods. So Winnie decides to run away. She meets a boy named Jesse Tuck and discovers that his family has a secret: they have eternal life after drinking from a magic spring. The Tucks then have to kidnap Winnie until she promises not to give away their secret and explain themselves. Winnie grows close to Mae (the mother), Tuck (the father), and Miles and Jesse (brothers). But trouble arises when an evil man tries to take Winnie away and give away the Tuck's secret. I loved this magical adventure. The positives were the characters. They are funny, nice, and add love to the book. Also, there were many cliffhangers that encouraged the reader to keep reading. And finally, the magic and fantasy made the book really enjoyable. But there were some negatives, too. Parts of the story were rushed, so not enough details were given, making some things confusing. And the beginning was a bit dragging, so it may not pull readers right away. But other than that, the book is very well done. The writing style is a bit old-fashioned. The author uses terms that aren't used as often anymore. Also, she has a very formal way of writing. I recommend this book for any age because it is a fun fantasy, and the characters are likeable. It is appropriate for young kids, and not too "little" for older kids. It can be read for pleasure, or anything else, like reports. Fans of Harry Potter and Twilight might like this story, because it has a familiar theme: a lonely kid falls upon a secret and bonds with the people that share it. It's more similar to Twilight because as in that book, the people will always be alive. Also, the book Ingo, by Helen Dunsmore, has a similar theme of discovery. Finally, Tuck Everlasting was a great book and can be enjoyed by everyone.
18 out of 26 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2009
i find that stories like this can carry you away for days on end wheather you are visiting neverland or spending a day with lassie you will always find comfort and care in the hands of these unforgettble charecters
14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 23, 2008
this book gets really boring in the beginning but then it gets really into to the story that make you never stop reading the book and i didn't even want to read it in the first place but i had to for a grade.i loved the book and i'm so glad i read this book
11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 6, 2009
Posted January 23, 2012
OMG! This book is amazing. I also reccomend the movie, too. It has alot of great actors. It is about girl who learns a seceret, one which she can never tell. Along th way she makes four fabulous friends, which she wil keep forever.
9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2012
I unfortunately was required to read this story for school. For people who're really into reading, maybe you'd enjoy it, but I hated it.
It does have an interesting main plot, but it is put together so badly it was horrid to read. There is a magical spring where uf you drink it you can liver forever, hence Tuck Everlasting. That could go places, but the main character falls in love with a huge age difference between them. I just really disliked this. I apologize for lack of detail, I read this a while ago. Bad memories...
5 out of 15 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2009
Books that I commonly read convey chatoyant covers, which urge me to read them. Tuck Everlasting is a non fiction novel. It's about a family, the Tuck Family, who once drank water from a spring that prevents anyone who drinks it to age. Soon a young girl and a bitter stranger find out about the Tuck's secret, and an adventure begins when the Tuck's and the young girl struggle to protect the spring from being found. Blithely, I can state that Natalie Babbitt is a divine author who puts a great deal of thinking into her work. This book is an all time favorite for most of its readers, and if you haven't read Tuck Everlasting, I potently recommend you to read the synopsis and become as thrilled as I was the first time I read it.
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2012
Posted December 11, 2008
Tuck Everlasting <BR/> In Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt makes life last forever from the Tuck family. She does a great job of just letting you live your life as long as possible and don¿t take it for granted because you only live life once. The book was very interesting and inspiring as well. It is also a very moving story to read. <BR/> The main story starts out with a girl named Winnie meeting a family the Tucks who live forever drinking from a spring found in her wood, 100 years before. She learns to start loving and caring for the family like her own, and the family does the same to her. As the story goes on, she has to choose to live forever or just live her life until she dies. Jesse, a family member of the Tucks, gives Winnie a little bottle of water from the spring, he tells her to think about drinking it at 17 years old and find the Tucks. <BR/> After 79 years of not visiting Tree gap they found out that Winnie died of old age and didn¿t drink the spring water, she dumped the water on a frog. The Tucks were happy to find out that she did live her life until the end.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2008
This book is one of the best books that I have ever read. The magical story of the Tuck family is both exiting and so good you can't put it down. Many years ago, the Tuck family found a spring and drank from it. Turnes out, the spring was magical. When a young girl named Winnie came along, they were forced to tell her their secret. When she wants in on the spring, one of the children her age gives her a bottle of the water and tells her she can drink it. That water was magical because if you drink it, you can stay the same forever and never grow older. I loved reading this book, and I gave this book a rating of five stars. Also I think that girls would find this book more interesting than the boys would find it.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2013
Tuck Everlasting is an AMAZING book. If you don't think it will be great, just read it. I read it in class and was hooked from the beginning.
Not only is it an amazing story, it really makes you think about life.
I recomend it for all ages!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2013
Posted January 22, 2013
I love this book you should read it! Im Jadelyn (Jade-lin) Kiryun (Kur-in) Gilluion (Gill-ie-on) and im tweleve (12) and i post of reviews and im in 5th grade! So if you see my name somewhere or see the name Jadelyn KG, tht would be ME!!! Oh an by the way, im a girl :-)
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2013
Posted March 20, 2013
Posted February 5, 2013