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Tuck Everlasting

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Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

148 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1975

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About the author

Natalie Babbitt

66 books992 followers
Natalie Babbitt was an American writer and illustrator of children's books. She attended Laurel School for Girls, and then Smith College. She had 3 children and was married to Samuel Fisher Babbitt. She was the grandmother of 3 and lived in Rhode Island.
She was a board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance a national not-for-profit that actively advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries.


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,431 reviews
Profile Image for Havenisle.
21 reviews3 followers
December 4, 2013
I loved the story but I hated the ending. This was the first book I was ever mad at. To this day, I still scowl at people that say that immortality is a curse. Perhaps it is, if you're stupid and lacking in any aspirations. If I were the family in this book, I could agree. But no, I'm not... I wish they would just go to college and get some dreams and stop feeling sorry for themselves. If you have the rest of eternity to kick around, do something useful like trying to save the world. If you're going to live forever anyway, you're never really going to have to say you failed, right?
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
432 reviews4,234 followers
September 19, 2023
“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.”

Or so said the ancient fountain.

The sign next to it: “Do not drink the water.”

Every time I see both signs, I can’t help but laugh. One tempting us to drink, and the other forbidding it.

Tuck Everlasting is a delightful story. It has such a strong ending because it leaves the reader with so many questions. This is one short book that I will remember for a very long time.

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Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
December 1, 2017
One day I was visiting my mother-in-law, a former high school English teacher. She mentioned, as we were leaving, that she had two boxes of books that she was going to get rid of. With visions of a literary treasure trove in my head, I quickly offered to take them off her hands so I could keep what I liked and dispose of the rest. When I got home and opened the boxes, I found . . . dozens of Sweet Valley High and Babysitters Club books. I have NO idea where my MIL got them from, or why. I was so disappointed.

But there were a handful of more interesting books scattered among the rest, and one of those was Tuck Everlasting. So I hung onto these few keepers and found a neighbor with a young daughter who was interested in taking the rest of the books off my hands. (Thinking about this now, I kind of feel guilty about it, like I need to go give her some better books.)

I first read Tuck about 10 or 15 years ago and, even though it's a middle grade book, it has stuck with me all these years. I still see a ten year old girl telling her troubles to a toad. The toad, in its own small way, will be significant later on.


The Tuck family, a husband, wife and two sons ages 17 and 22, are simple, salt-of-the-earth folk. In the late 1700's, they drink from a spring of water in a forest that turns out to be a sort of fountain of youth: it makes them immortal, unable to die and permanently stuck at the age they were when they drank from the spring. Many years later, a young girl named Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret. The Tuck family takes her away with them for a day or two (which soon leads to some plot complications) while they desperately try to explain to Winnie why they think it's a terrible idea for her to drink from the magical spring herself, or tell anyone else about it. All except the younger son, Jesse, who asks Winnie to wait until she's 17, then drink from the fountain and join him in eternal life.

The book is full of circle of life type of imagery: a Ferris wheel pauses in its turning, seasons pass, water drifts downstream to the ocean. The Tuck family feels like the wheel has stuck for them--they're like rocks by the side of the road, while all around them people are changing and growing and living and dying. Tuck tells Winnie:
"But dying's part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that's the blessing. But it's passing us by, us Tucks. Living's heavy work, but off to one side, the way we are, it's useless, too. . . 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."
It's an interesting philosophical question: if you had the chance to drink from this fountain, why shouldn't you? Is the downside really as bitter as the Tucks feel it is? How would it affect our world if the word got out?

I do feel like the book kind of begs the question of why the Tucks couldn't learn more, grow more, have their sons find girls who would want to live eternally with them. I wonder if that's part of the curse of the magical fountain, that they are somehow stuck in stasis mentally as well as physically.

I still would be tempted to take a chance on the fountain, but knowing I could never die or change, no matter what, would give me pause for thought. I'd be worried that eventually I'd feel like I was permanently in Sweet Valley High, unable to escape.

It's an interesting little book and a quick read. I recommend it.

Profile Image for Casey.
108 reviews2 followers
August 2, 2007
This book is a quiet read. Even the drama has a hot, sleepy, summer feel to it. Have a lazy long weekend to just curl up, this is a small and in someways sad, read.

I teach this book to my students for lots of reasons. It lets us talk about metaphors and similes. The language is not complicated but it is artistic. I use it when working with predicting texts. Also, and maybe mostly, it's great for some of those big questions if you're having your students reflect upon life and family. What would you do if you could live forever? What about your family? What is a family? Who is a hero and who is a villain? Good choices, safe choices, right choices or bad choices and why? etc., etc., etc.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,049 followers
October 9, 2015

I read this book as a birthday gift to the one and only Awesome Kat Stark who is celebrating her birthday on September 27. SUPER HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAT! Read her wonderful review by clicking on her name.

I confess. Once in my young life, I dreamed of becoming immortal and invisible and you have to admit you did too. What, no? You didn’t? Oh come on, admit it! Don’t leave me alone here!

Anyway, even if you deny it, I’m here to speak on behalf of you dorks who dreamed of impossible dreams- of flying, of different supernatural abilities and of becoming superheroes and there’s no shame in that. We were all children after all.

This classic tale addresses one of our childhood fantasies-immortality. Wisely told in a genuine classic formula, this is a heartwarming story about the Tuck family who never grew old. Like any classic middle school books, this one will fascinate you, teach you, inspire you, entertain you and make you tear up a little (it’s inevitable).

After all, how can we forget Spidey’s uncle’s great words:


You’ll never go wrong with middle school books!

AGAIN, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAT! Enjoy your special day! <3

Want the same birthday gift, my friends? Please comment by mentioning your birth date and the book you recommend. This is going to be so much fun!
Profile Image for Karina.
850 reviews
April 28, 2020
What an amazing little book. How can an author say so much and describe so many scenes of nature and a person in a paragraph? Clearly, she was this talented.

Now... would I drink from this spring water or would I choose to let my life play out the way God intended it to? I still don't know but it's an interesting choice to have.

It can be smart or very evil-- depending on ones perspective/personality.
Profile Image for Anne .
183 reviews264 followers
February 8, 2016
REREAD: Feb. 8/ 2016

I watched a movie yesterday that led me to reflect a bit on life, humanity and immortality. And eventually, after a train of exhaustive musings on the aforementioned subjects, I decided I wanted to read something pertaining to them. But what? I really don't know of any other books that explore the subject of life and perils of immortality, except for this one. Hence, my reread. I read this in about 3 hours because I didn't indulge too much or peruse the story with tedious attention. It was so easy to get by because I anticipated the story's line of progression. I almost knew it scene by scene.

The question is: Do I still feel the same way I did when I first read this?

The answer: Yes. And no. Yes, I still think I wouldn't appreciate eternal life. I still think It's a long and lonely stretch into nothingness. How tiresome and staggeringly painful would that be? To watch worlds, ages and men pass away while you remain. To have to reinvent and reorient yourself in life. Over and over again, living an ageless and interminable life of love and loss. What a vicious cycle indeed! I shiver just thinking about it. And what about death? Couldn't death be a miracle of it's own. A small, kind, and cynical sort of miracle. It's easy to think like this because at the end of the day, death truly is all the option we have. I wonder how fast I'll fling my songs of "cursed immortality" out the window if immortality ever happened to show up at my doorstep with a proposition in hand. That's the difference between what is and what if, I guess. Me. I'm organic and volatile. I'm the difference, and choice makes all the difference. Just like Winnie's did. I think of Winnie's choice, how bittersweet the ending of this book was because of it. And it makes me sad and happy all at once. With the Tucks, my feelings are in an unrivaled state of monopoly. I feel incredibly sad for them. The one thing they never had was the privilege of choice. Or at least the illusion of it, because of course, death again, is imminent and unavoidable.

I honestly wonder how I'll feel the next time I reread this.

FIRST READ: Nov. 29/2015
"Know what that is, all around us, Winnie?" said Tuck, his voice low. "Life. Moving, growing, changing, never the same two minutes together."

It's a wheel, Winnie. Everything's a wheel, turning"

Yesterday morning the first snow fell. I had gone through more than half of this book and I was still wondering, "what's so bad about not dying? Seems like a pretty good thing to me." I took a little break from reading, got out of bed and looked out the window. And there it was, the very first snow. I once hated snow, I'm an autumn baby, and I love spring. I'm not a fan of summer or winter. But over the years, my point of view has shifted a little. I think I like snow and winter a little more with each passing year. It just gets more beautiful every time it comes around.

And I like that you know, that some things just get more beautiful every time you see them. And still there are some things that remain just as beautiful as the first day you saw them, never really becoming less or more. Unchanging. Somehow you get accustomed to their charm, and the effect is lost on you. It's not that beauty itself is lost or diminished, you just aren't startled or awed by it anymore. I think I like the first variant more.

I know, I know. But what does this have to do with the review? Well I thought about it. What if there was snow all year round? What if spring didn't give life, summer didn't celebrate it, autumn didn't kill it, and winter didn't bury it in heaps of white? A life without change. Everlasting stagnancy. Would that life be as precious? I don't think I'd appreciate nature and the seasons as much, or think them as beautiful. I don't think I'd like it at all.
Time and change are all part of the entirety of life. Birth and death, seasons changing, trees lush and barren --it's the circle of life, and nothing is more beautiful. And that's what this book is trying to saying.

You can't have living without dying. So you can't call it living, what we got

The Tucks are a family doomed to live an endless life, they bear the curse of immortality. Ten year old Winnie Foster is a sheltered and miserable girl who longs for freedom and dreams of running away. The lives of the two parties become entwined, and Winnie learns a little about the value of life in the first week of August, in the year 1880.

But dying's part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that's the blessing.

This story, the writing, the message, all of it was just simple and beautiful. A lesson and toast: Here's to dying, but first living.

4.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Debbie.
454 reviews2,891 followers
June 22, 2019
Once I got started, an everlasting pogo-stick ride through the woods

The first 30 pages of this award-winning classic, I wasn’t feeling the love. BOR-ing! Description out the ying yang, and there I was out in nature again, where I risked running into bees and poison ivy while dying of the heat.

And there were other things that normally would chase me away. It’s fantasy, for crying out loud, and a KID’S book. It’s too old-timey: the late 1800s. And that means horse travel! Give me zooming cars any day. (I didn’t know I preferred cars to horses until this very second, but I guess I do. Is it simply that where there are horses, there is manure?) And don’t let me forget this huge crime: characters with bad grammar. I know, I know, it’s authentic—but it still hurts my editor ears.

So a lot of strikes, huh? Well I’m here to tell you that I loved this book about a girl who runs into a weird family. But first I have to tell you why I was reading it in the first place.

For months now, I’ve been reading books to Eliska, a 10-year-old I kid-sit for. It was time for a new one. As I began reading, I knew I was in trouble. Eliska muttered “boring” after the first 20 minutes of nature descriptions. My thoughts exactly. What’s the protocol for reading a boring book to a kid? Is it okay to change your mind and ditch it?

I blame my bad memory for the pickle I found myself in. I was absolutely sure my daughter Jess had raved about this book in middle school. So after the first less-than-thrilling reading session with Eliska, I called Jess, anxious to brag that I was reading it and determined not to bum her out by telling her it sucked. She said, “I hate to tell you, Mombo, but I never read it.” What? I had the wrong book! Why the hell was I reading this slow book fraught with everything I hate? Suddenly I felt okay about ditching it.

Then, ding, I remember! Wow, yes, I remember now! It wasn’t Tuck Everlasting that Jess loved, it was Bridge to Terabithia! Ha, that’s what I should be reading! I laughed and told Jess, wondering if I should switch out Tuck for Bridge. “I hate to tell you, Mombo, but I never read that one either.” OMG! Now, secretly I KNOW she read that one, but I won’t argue. She wanted to set me straight so she started naming a bunch of Roald Dahl books she loved; I madly scribbled down the titles, not trusting my memory one iota. Meanwhile, what to do with Tuck? Do I keep reading?

I did keep reading—partly because I thought maybe it wouldn’t be cool to ditch it, and partly because I thought that somehow I was setting a good example by trudging through the muck: good people suck it up and wade through boring books. Yeah, that’s part of my kid-sitting job description I’m sure.

I’m so so glad I did go on. After those first interminably long 30 pages, I couldn’t put the book down. Suspense, surprises, perfect metaphors, a clever plot, terrific characters—now you’re talking. Damn if I didn’t love the good guys and violently hate the villain. There was a lot of excitement and tension. The book is short; I wanted more. I wanted the book to be everlasting.

I actually am shocked that this book got pigeon-holed as YA. It seems like an adult book to me—there’s some dark stuff happening, plus the language does not sound kid-like in the least. I throw 5 stars out into the air as I merrily pogo-stick through the woods (no bees or poison ivy in sight). Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Julie G.
896 reviews2,926 followers
July 22, 2017
Natalie Moore was a writer and an illustrator who went on to marry a fellow writer named Samuel Fisher Babbitt.

Bibbity bobbity boo, next thing we knew, Natalie Moore was writing as Natalie Babbitt.

And Ms. Babbitt went on to write this famous little book called Tuck Everlasting, a young adult story with a delicious cover and a clever, real writer's name. A name that kept reminding me of someone who'd be related to Bilbo Baggins and Peter Rabbit. And, if you know Beatrix Potter's work, you can recognize that Natalie married a man whose two names are also titles of two of Potter's famous tales: Samuel Whiskers and Mr. Jeremy Fisher.

So. . . was it a coincidence that Ms. Babbitt's writing was so incredibly playful? So magical? I'm not sure, but it is. It made me think of both Beatrix Potter and Lewis Carroll, and the 10-year-old protagonist, Winnie Foster, takes readers on an Alice-esque journey of wonder and questions and confusion.

Here, in Tuck Everlasting, the grass is “forlorn,” the sky is “blue and hard now,” and the sun is "a ponderous circle without edges.”

Yet, it is not another world, a middle-earth, or any such thing. It is the United States, circa 1880; but you realize quickly that Ms. Babbitt loved the natural world and liked playing around in a mess of words. Words that work, and are fun.

But, in case you get confused and think it's playtime. . . Ms. Babbitt also lets you know that she likes to think really big thoughts. . . and she challenges Winnie Foster and the reader with the killer question: if you could be immortal, here on earth, would you be?

She asks the question, then she gives you several different ways of looking at this “blessing” of eternal life on earth.

By the end, you and Winnie are left scratching your ears.

You wonder. This book is full of wonder. And it's wonderful for readers and writers to be exposed to Ms. Babbitt, who writes like a hobbit.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
October 22, 2019
Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
Ten-year-old Winifred "Winnie" Foster is frustrated with her family, and considers running away from her home in rural Treegap. One day, while in a wooded area her family owns, she sees a boy of about 17 drinking from a spring. He introduces himself as Jesse Tuck, and tells her not to drink the spring water. Soon after, his brother Miles, and his mother Mae, take her away with them. On the way, they are pursued by a man in a yellow suit, who had approached the Fosters asking questions about their land the day before. The Tucks explain to Winnie that the spring grants eternal life to anyone who drinks its water, effects which they discovered by accident. In the process, Miles had to cope with his wife leaving him and taking their children. They have been living in seclusion outside of Treegap for years, reuniting every ten years, and drinking from the spring. Winnie grows particularly fond of Jesse, and his father, Angus Tuck. Meanwhile, the man in the yellow suit, has been pursuing the Tucks. Once he discovers they have taken Winifred, he steals their horse and rides it back to the Foster homestead. After he informs her family of Winnie's whereabouts, they dispatch him, and the local constable to return her. However, he breaks away, and rides ahead of the constable, for he has a selfish motive for finding Winnie. When the man in the yellow suit arrives at the Tucks' farm, he informs them that he has been searching for them for years. Miles' wife and children had come to live with his family when he was a boy, and he heard rumors of their secret. He then informs the angry family that he told the Fosters where Winnie was and that he has received a bounty in exchange, for her safe return: the wooded area, and with it the spring. He plans to gather the water from the spring, and sell it to the public. ...

عنوانها: ت‍اک‌، خ‍ان‍واده‌ ای‌ ب‍ا ع‍م‍ر ج‍اوی‍دان‌؛ ‫زندگی ابدی خانواده‌ ی تاک‮‬‏‫؛ خانواده‌ ی جاودان تاک؛ نویسنده: ن‍ات‍ال‍ی‌ ب‍ب‍ی‍ت‌‏‫؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1994 میلادی

عنوان: ت‍اک‌، خ‍ان‍واده‌ ای‌ ب‍ا ع‍م‍ر ج‍اوی‍دان‌؛ نویسنده: ن‍ات‍ال‍ی‌ ب‍ب‍ی‍ت‌‏‫؛ مت‍رج‍م: ن‍س‍ری‍ن‌ وک‍ی‍ل‍ی‌؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌: صدا و سیمای جمهوری اسلامی ایران، انتشارات سروش‏‫، 1372؛ در 124 ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20 م
عنوان: ‏‫زندگی ابدی خانواده‌ ی تاک‮‬‏‫؛ نویسنده: ناتالی بابیت‮‬‏‫؛ مترجم: محبوبه موسوی؛ ‏‫مشهد‮‬‏‫: انتشارات مرندیز‮‬‏‫، 1389؛ در 160 ص؛ شابک: 9786001060267؛‮‬
عنوان: خانواده‌ ی جاودان تاک؛ نویسنده: ن‍ات‍ال‍ی‌ ب‍اب‍ی‍ت‌؛ مترجم: سیمین تاجدینی؛ ویراستار: پژمان واسعی؛ زیر نظر شورای بررسی رمان، محراب قلم، کتاب‌های مهتاب؛ تهران: محراب قلم، کتابهای مهتاب‏‫، 1397؛ در 167 ص؛ شابک: 9786004132015؛‬

خانواده ی «تاک» که با نوشیدن آب چشمه ای سحرامیز، مورد رحمت یا نفرین خداوند قرار گرفته، و عمر جاویدان یافته اند، در حالیکه سرگردان و بیخانمان هستند، کوشش میکنند تا انجا که امکان دارد، دور از دیگران، و در آرامش زندگی کنند. وقتی دختری دهساله بنام «وینی فاستر»، به راز آنها پی میبرد، خانواده ی «تاک» او را با خودشان میبرند، و برایش از اینکه چرا زندگی جاویدان در هر سنی که باشد آنقدرها هم دلنشین نیست، میگویند. اما پسر کوچک این خانواده، که هفده سال دارد، و از «وینی» خوشش آمده، به او پیشنهاد میکند، تا هفده سالگی صبر کند، و سپس از آب آن چشمه بخورد، تا بتواند با او ازدواج کند. مشکلات از زمانی آغاز میشود، که غریبه ای برای دست یافتن به چشمه، و کسب ثروت از راه آن به تعقیب «وینی» میپردازد. و ...؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,261 reviews404 followers
January 18, 2019
We loved this story, we loved the concept, the descriptions of nature, the relationships between the characters. The philosophical ideas were good, we loved thinking about what this storyline suggested and how although it seemed the ideal thing to be granted, the people who had it found it more than a curse than a blessing. In my naivety I still think it would be ideal as long as those you loved were in on it too, but yes, I can see it would get complicated, and where would it stop? The music box was an interesting part, we really wanted to know what tune it played. We couldn't predict the ending and we enjoyed speculating how this story would be concluded. Despite really enjoying this at the time, I was left with a sad feeling after the story had ended.
Profile Image for Fabian {Councillor}.
232 reviews488 followers
July 23, 2016
Tuck Everlasting is one of those books everyone should read at a young age. After all, who hasn't ever thought at least once about how it would be to live eternally, to be free to do everything you want to, to embrace life in all its different facets? The way this short novel deals with eternal life - and raising the question about whether or not that can be considered a blessing or doom - makes it an important addition to the literary world.

Fast-paced and easy to read, this is a book to devour in the course of three or four short hours, and while not the most involving book which can be found out there, at least it is able to make you think about what it would be like to (have to) live like the Tuck family does: Wandering around eternally and restlessly, comdemned to live on this earth until its very end. The book itself introduces the character of Winnie Foster, an eleven-year-old girl who meets the Tuck family and soon learns of their unbelievable secret: that the four members of that family are immortal after they drank from a magic spring.

Natalie Babbitt's prose is strong and powerful, drawing a convincing picture of how life can possibly work without death. Yet the book in itself is not without flaws; she never allowed the characters to become realistic. For me, especially the Tuck family felt like a gathering of stereotypes, and the lack of dynamics between the family members itself didn't help matters. Yet the potential was exploited almost completely, additionally helped by some strong messages (the connection between life and death, the ideas of human greed and constant change, the contrast between morality and craving, and the values of love and humanity).

The only thing which constantly bothered me was the way the Tuck family behaved - at least except for Jesse, the youngest son. If you are condemned to live your life on this earth forever, why constantly complain about your situation rather than actually doing something purposeful with your immortality? But then, maybe that was yet another message Babbitt implied in her novel: that the good-hearted are almost never those who actually want to change something in this world, while those with immoral and evil-minded purposes long to rule the world.
Profile Image for Ivana - Diary of Difference.
567 reviews730 followers
July 28, 2022
A total masterpiece. This book made me think about the question of which every one of us wants to know the answer - is it that good to live forever? I love the way the writer insists on telling both the positive and negative sides of leaving forever and staying forever young.. I know I won't stop thinking about this book in a while.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,031 reviews2,386 followers
August 31, 2017
"Know what that is, all around us, Winnie?" said Tuck, his voice low. "Life. Moving, growing, changing, never the same two minutes together."

Geez - who wouldn't want to live forever? Just think of the unlimited time to read; you'd finally get to EVERYTHING on your list. There'd be time to learn to play an instrument . . . all the instruments! You'd have all the time in the world to master all sorts of skills.

But, there would be drawbacks, of course there would. (Just ask Dr. Who.) You'd have to watch your loved ones grow old and die. You'd still need to work and earn money. And, one thing I never thought of until I read this book - you'd need to move around quite a bit, as others became suspicious of your lack of visible aging.

"I want to grow again," he said fiercely, "and change. And if that means I got to move on at the end of it, then I want that, too. If people knowed about the spring down there in Treegap, they'd all come running like pigs to slops. They'd trample each other, trying to get some of that water. That'd be bad enough, but afterwards - can you imagine? All the little ones little forever, all the old ones old forever. Can you picture what that means? Forever? The wheel would keep rolling by to the ocean, but the people would've turned into nothing but rocks by the side of the road."

I've decided that if I'm going to work as a children's librarian, I should probably read some of the classics. I suppose this is considered a classic; though it was only published in 1975, it seems much older. There is a timeless appeal to this book, but perhaps it is it's subject matter that makes it seem immortal. I mostly enjoyed the book. Things that annoyed other readers - the age difference between Winnie and Jesse, the few plot holes, the ending - didn't bother me a bit. Ah, the ending . . . I loved the ending. I loved that the author

I would recommend this one. READ it! (I wish I had - I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Peter Thomas. He did a fine job, but his voice reminded me of those voice-overs from all the film strips I was forced to watch in elementary school. Ugh! Is it time for recess yet?)
July 11, 2021

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I'm doing a project where I reread some of the books I liked when I was younger and seeing what I want to keep and what is better reconciled to memory. TUCK EVERLASTING is one of the few books where I actually saw the movie first, which actually set me up for disappointment because the movie was well-casted and really well done, and they upped the age of Winnie, making the movie more like TWILIGHT with the whole "how long have you been seventeen?" thing. In this book, Winnie is ten and Jesse is seventeen-going-on-eighty, which definitely makes the book way more yuck.

The movie is more of a straightforward romance but for obvious reasons, the book is not. Instead it's sort of a precocious coming-of-age tale and a philosophical musing on the ephemeral nature of life. If you could live forever, would you? How would you account for the draining of the world's resources? How should people be chosen for eternal life? It asks some tough but interesting questions and it's probably no surprise to you that the villain of the tale is a man who is hell-bent on living forever, no matter who he has to hurt.

I thought the story was okay. It's really short and clearly intended for a much younger audience than the movie. The first time I read this book, I remember liking it a lot, but this time around I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking about the movie instead. It kind of has a sad ending but it ends up being kind of bittersweet too, and I liked how the author alluded to certain things. In my first reading, I think I gave it five stars, but this time around, I'm feeling a three. It was decent but I don't think I'd reread.

3 stars
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books598 followers
October 30, 2022
Published in 1975, this short (139 pages) novel was and is marketed to children; and it has a 10-year-old girl, Winnie Foster, for protagonist and --except for the Epilogue-- viewpoint character. It was immediately popular, not only with the targeted juvenile audience, but also with teachers, children's librarians, and the critical community; it's remained so for nearly 50 years (and has twice been adapted for film, though I haven't seen either movie version). But by 1975, I was in my 20s, and didn't pay much attention to developments in children's literature. So I didn't stumble on the book on a library shelf until sometime between 1997-2002. I've now read this book, as an adult, twice (the second time aloud to my wife, who liked it too). I can testify that it's sufficiently well written and thematically deep to appeal to adults as well as kids, with food for thought that can engage anyone.

Our single, linear storyline here takes place in the burning hot first week of August, 1880, with most of the main action compressed into just a few momentous days, in and around Winnie's hometown of Treegap. (We're not told what U.S. state it's in, but it's in the eastern U.S., and far enough inland that in the 1790s it would have been on the sparsely settled frontier.) So the taut plot observes all of the classical unities. Unbeknown to Winnie and her family, the woods (Babbitt and her characters always refers to it as a "wood") that they own near their house happens to contain an enchanted spring of water, a drink of which confers earthly immortality --immunity to aging, and invulnerability to even mortal wounds. 87 years earlier, the pioneering Tuck family --two middle-aged parents, and their two grown sons, one in his early 20s, the other 17-- and their horse unwittingly drank from that spring. During this fateful week, events will bring together the still-unaged Tucks, Winnie, and a wild-card stranger who has reason to suspect that there's a secret of immortality out there --and has his own plan for what to do with it.

Humans have dreamed of earthly immortality ever since the ancient and medieval alchemists sought to create the "philosopher's stone" that they imagined would, among other things, confer it. Mary Shelley, in her story "The Mortal Immortal," was perhaps the first (but far from the last!) speculative fiction writer to employ the premise of such immortality, and to grapple with the moral and philosophical issues it poses. Though I appreciate Shelley's story, I believe that Babbitt, in this novel, created the best (that is to say, most thoughtful and most winsomely presented) treatment of this theme that I've ever read, with a plot that's crafted with more intrinsic drama and emotional involvement for the reader than Shelley brought to her tale. Along with Winnie, the reader has to ask, if you could live forever in this present world (or, at least, as long as the world lasts) would you want to? Should you want to? Is it a blessing to be shared with the world, or a curse that needs to be kept secret? And if it's the latter, how far would, or should, you go to keep that secret? And though it's not conceived in Christian terms (the only religious reference is Mr. Tuck's mention, early on, of a good dream "where we're all in heaven and never heard of Treegap"), for Christian readers it can't help but stimulate thought about how and why the "blessed hope" of bodily resurrection and eternal life as a redeemed community in the new earth differs from what the spring water offers here.

Natalie Babbitt (1932-2016), though a productive writer and illustrator with some 20 authored books to her credit, apparently led a largely quiet life, which included a stable marriage and motherhood to three kids; she wasn't much in the news or the literary spotlight. But with this, her best known work, she produced a beautiful, poignant story, told with perfect artistry and featuring realistic and convincing characters, with a timeless appeal and thought content that will never lose its relevance. I believe it will have appreciative readers, of all ages, as long as people read serious literature in the English language.
Profile Image for Lily - Books by Starlight.
451 reviews198 followers
April 12, 2023
I would give this book a hundred stars if I could! Plus recommend it to absolutely everyone on Goodreads. The prose is unbelievably good, and the characters, the story, the ending....Just ahhhhhh! :') I'm so glad I took the time to read this one! Now I can't wait to watch the movie, too. :))
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,473 followers
August 7, 2016
Actual rating, 3.5 stars.

This is a perfectly whimsical read and, had my younger self read this, then I could see this becoming a firm childhood favourite. As it is, I feel I am too old to really appreciate the fantastic and yet simplistic story. It saddens me to say this, really. It means that my more mature self has picked plot holes and problems where only beauty and simplicity should reign. This is living proof that growing up is definitely bad for you!

The story was poignant, whimsical and sweet and exactly what I was expecting. The descriptions the novel opened with transported me into the world and I found this wonderfully eloquent for a book aimed at a younger audience. I also fell in love with the characters. Our protagonist, Winnie, and the entire Tuck family feel warm and welcoming to the reader and I felt a fuzzy feeling inside whilst reading this!

My problems with the novel were really only minor inconsistencies, and yet they jarred with my understanding and enjoyment of the novel. There were many coincidences and plot holes and, again, this is something that probably would not bother or even be picked up on by the audience it was aimed for. I also felt like the age difference between Winnie and Jesse was wrong on so many levels...

In all, this is a very sweet and simplistic tale and I am only sorry that I had not read it when I was younger, to truly appreciate the brilliance of the story.
Profile Image for Kristina Horner.
157 reviews1,822 followers
July 21, 2016
Never actually read this book as a child - only saw the movie. Listened to the audiobook for booktubeathon with my boyfriend and we both loved it! It's a very radio-drama-esque good vs. evil story, but it's charming and fun and we had a delightful time.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
November 9, 2011
The Cullen family meets Gretel minus Hansel. The vampire family in that Stephanie Meyer’s popular saga moves from one town or city to another because they are immortals and they don’t want people to notice that their appearance does not change. This is similar to the Tuck family here in Natalie Babbitt’s children’s slim novel, Tuck Everlasting. However, the Cullens are vampires and the idea of vampires being immortals was originally thought of by Bram Stoker while the Tucks have drank water from the spring of youth which is similar to the fountain of youth that was first thought of by Herodotus several years ago before the birth of Jesus Christ.

If Gretel and Hansel fooled the wicked witch by making them feel a bone that they found inside the iron cage (presumably a bone from the witch previous captive), 10-y/o Winnie Foster, this novel’s main protagonist, fooled the prison personnel by covering herself with the bed sheet and pillows to make her as big as Mae Tuck who was imprisoned for killing the man who overheard the family’s secret. I thought that both of these are silly but these are children’s books and both were written a long time ago. Wait… Tuck Everlasting was first published in 1975 and when it’s movie adaptation was shown in 2002, Disney executives changed several aspects of the story presumably to make it more believable, plausible and logical:
1. In the book, Winnie wants to run away because she is tired of being cooped up being the only child. While reading and I hadn’t checked Wiki yet, I thought that this reason is flimsy considering that their family is rich and being an only child she naturally gets and enjoys has all the attention. Well the book did not really elaborate her problem but I thought it was not logical even on a child’s perspective. I guess this is the reason why the film executives change the reason to that of Winnie being planned to be sent by her parents to a boarding school.

2. In the book, to save Mae, Miles Tuck removes the window and Winnie switches places with Mae Tuck. This is the impossible or already used-a-million-times scheme and I thought it lacked imagination. So the film executives probably were with me so they concocted a more elaborate situation in the film: Winnie tells the prison guard that the people who kidnapped her are back to get her. He runs outside with a shotgun to face them. He shoots them, but runs away when he sees they cannot die. Meanwhile, Winnie grabs his keys and unlocks Mae and Angus's cell doors. I thought it was a more sensible scheme.

3. In the book, Winnie seems to be falling in love with Jesse. What??? A 10-y/o young girl looking at a 17-y/o boy like she is staring at a pinup model on a Playgirl magazine? This might be an exaggeration but Winnie described Jesse twice in her mind as beautiful with the green eyes like jade or something. I am not sure about this but when my daughter was 10, she was as innocent as a babe in the woods and did not have crushes yet and she looked at boys like playmates to shoot balls with. I know it is different from one girl to the next but my daughter was also an only child and they say that the people of yesteryears were more conservative than this or the recent generations including mine. So, probably the film executives saw this and they changed Winnie’s age to 15 which I think is more reasonable. Wait, this book was published in 1975 during the hippie generation, Beat generation and rock and roll era so probably Natalie Babbitt was a young writer belonging to those generations and 10-y/o girls are way advance in their notions of free love?
I can see why some readers would like this book but not me. Sorry.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews430 followers
June 29, 2016
This review contains spoilers.

The year is 1880. The Tuck family lives in the small rural town of Treegap, New Hampshire. There is a spring there, located in the Foster's Wood, with water that will give you immortality. If you are 17 when you drink it, 17 you will be forever. The Tuck family knows this because 80 years earlier they drank the water and haven't aged a day since. But now 10 year old Winnie Foster has discovered their secret which creates all kinds of problems for everyone involved, and so the story unfolds. Would you do it if you could? After reading this you will think maybe, but maybe not. It's a thought provoking story with great characters that are easy to love, and the ending has a little bit of a twist.
Profile Image for Luisa Knight.
2,823 reviews808 followers
November 7, 2022
From start to finish, I didn't want to pull my nose out of the book!

What an enchanting and provocative tale! It was everything I wanted it to be. And it was SO much more than the movie offered. In fact, if you've seen the movie but haven't read the book, scratch what you remember, and read the book. Because the book got it right (duh!). I liked the fact that Winnie was only ten years old in the book. Somehow that made it more believable ... and more romantic somehow. And how the book ended ... it was all so much more right and fitting.

If you're looking for something mystically spellbinding, a strong narrative, characters that you enjoy, and a story with depth and thought, pick this! It's a splendid read-to-yourself or family read-aloud for sure!

Ages: 6+

Cleanliness: a girl wants to run away from home. A girl is attracted to a young man. There is a slight romance to the book, though not much of one as the girl is only ten - the young man says he'll wait for her when she's grown. Some hugging/hand-holding. References black magic and selling your soul to the devil - but this did not happen. A woman takes her two children and leaves her husband. A woman (in self-defense) kills a man- not graphic. A girl helps break someone out of jail. The word “heck” is used three times, as well as “Lord”.

**Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I provide a Cleanliness Report, mentioning any objectionable content I come across so that parents and/or conscientious readers (like me) can determine beforehand whether they want to read a book or not. Content surprises are super annoying, especially when you’re 100+ pages in, so here’s my attempt to help you avoid that!

So Follow or Friend me here on GoodReads! And be sure to check out my bio page to learn a little about me and the Picture Book/Chapter Book Calendars I sell on Etsy!
Profile Image for Maddie D.
13 reviews7 followers
March 1, 2013

My class is currently reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. My favorite part in the book is when Jesse asks Winnie if she wants to wait 6 years and then get married and go on adventures. I like this part in the book because you would never expect that it would happen. It was an interesting and surprising part of this book. I can relate to Winnie because I always wanted to be my own independent person. I always wanted to walk to school by myself and pack my own lunch, I just wanted to be responsible like Winnie. The book Tuck Everlasting is a great book because it can be mysterious when the man in the yellow suit follows Winnie and the Tucks. It can also be very interesting because the Tucks are immortal, which is very unrealistic but it makes the story interesting. It's like what it would be if it the world was immortal. It really makes you think about it if you get down deep into the story. Some characters like being immortal, some don't. Personally I think it would be pretty cool if I was immortal because you would get to see what the world is like in the future. You would also never have to worry about getting hurt because you live forever and your always the same age. You would get to experience so many different time frames and changes. It would be awesome if I got to live forever just like the Tucks get to do in the book Tuck Everlasting.

The theme of Tuck Everlasting is "Never trust people even if they look nice at first." The reason why I believe this is the theme is because Winnie thought the man in the yellow suit was friendly and nice, but he’s also acting very suspicious like he knows something about Winnie’s family. Well the man in the yellow suit definitely wasn't nice because he followed Winnie when she got kidnapped and took the Tucks horse to go to Winnie's house and try to make a trade with Winnie's family. Then he goes back to the Tuck's and tells them he’s selling the woods and tried to take Winnie. Now he’s trying to force Winnie to drink the spring water! The theme “Never trust people even if they look nice at first,” definitely follows this book. Luckily Mae hit the man in the yellow suit in the head with the gun, else things would have gone really bad. At least Winnie can trust the Tuck’s. This theme also applies in real life because if you trust strangers they could do something bad to you. Like the man in the yellow suit tried to do to Winnie.
Profile Image for Amerie.
Author 5 books4,151 followers
April 13, 2018
#reread A beautiful novel. I read this aloud to my still-in-utero baby and loved it. (But 100-year-old-trapped-in-a-17-year-old-body Jesse was very creepy for asking 10-year-old Winnie what he asked. Immortal human beings mature and change even if their ages and appearances do not. I'd like to see this reflected more in fiction, though some results would be scaaaandalous.)
Profile Image for Berfin Kanat.
395 reviews154 followers
August 6, 2023
"Ölmek de çarkın bir parçasıdır, doğmak da. Bir parçayı alıp geri kalanın görmezden gelemezsin. Bütününün bir parçası olmak Tanrının bir lütfudur. Eğer ölüm yoksa yaşamın ne anlamı var ki? O zaman yaşam olarak adlandıramazsın bile."

Masal tadında bir hikaye. Kısa ve derin. Yaşam ve ölüm üzerine. Bitirdiğimde kendi kendime dedim ki bir gün öleceksin, bir gün öleceksin. Farkına var. Hangimiz gerçek manasıyla bunun farkındayız ki? Çocuk kitabı olarak geçiyor fakat hüzünlü, ölümün kendisi gibi işte. Betimlemeler bile konuyla uyumlu yazılmış. Kitapta geçen ağustos sıcağının durağanlığı gibi, yaşam ve ölüm temasını hissettiğim noktada bir yavaşlama ihtiyacı duydum. Yavaşlayıp yaşama bakma, yaşadığımı hissetme ihtiyacı.
Kesinlikle öylesine yazılmış bir çocuk kitabı değil. İyi ki 100 temel eser arasına koyulmuş, mutlaka okuyun!
Profile Image for JohnnyBear.
172 reviews12 followers
December 22, 2022
Strong 8 out of 10

Tuck Everlasting is a book where a girl named Winifred runs away from her home. She finds a boy in the woods drinking some water from the ground. She follows this boy to his house after talking to him for a while, and he and his family explained that if you drink the water that means you'll live forever. They also talk about the pros and cons of living forever.

Book Cover

Really fun book, and really memorable. I was expecting some boring contemporary classic story about farming and hard work going into this book, (just judging from the cover) but it turned out to be this really cool book with magical themes and intense moments. The characters are well-written, and there are some tension-filled moments, especially regarding the search team looking for Winifred.

This book shot way beyond my expectations. I loved reading this, it may look like a classic, but this is a tale of magic, kidnapping, immortal humans, and much more. I loved this book, the ending is sad, but I left this book feeling very compelled by the story. Fantastic read!
Profile Image for Katherine.
778 reviews355 followers
November 8, 2019
”’Who wouldn’t give a fortune to live forever?’

‘I wouldn’t.’”

I think people tend to underestimate children’s novels. They think that these books are just cutesy little things about trivial subjects such as going to the park, getting a new pet, going to the store, etc. But I find that children’s books can often be more profound than even the densest literary tome. Tuck Everlasting is no exception. With her blunt, simple language and endearing message, it’s no wonder that this book is considered a classic of children’s literature.

Ten-year-old Winnie Foster is the only child of one of the wealthiest families in her town. They own the woods behind their house, which Winnie is never allowed to go in by her overprotective parents and grandmother. Come to think of it, Winnie really isn’t allowed to go anywhere by herself, or have the opportunity to be a normal kid. It can all be a bit much for Winnie, to the point that she begins to wonder if she’d be better off running away.
”It was one thing to talk about being by yourself, doing important things, but quite another when the opportunity rose. The characters in the stories she read always seemed to go off without a thought or care, but in real life- well, the world was a dangerous place.”
And yet despite her fleeting thoughts of running away, she never really intends to do it... until the fateful day she meets Jesse Tuck by the spring under the tree. His family takes her and brings her back to their home nestled in the woods. For you see, the Tucks drank from the spring a long time ago, and what they didn’t know was the fact that the spring contained magic that granted them eternal life. It’s up to them to protect the spring, and with that, Winnie. Since she knows their secret, will she be able to keep it? And is it really worth the price to live forever?

I’m sure many of us at some time or another (especially children) have wished to live forever. Death can be a scary thing for children to consider or even face as a reality. It’s more of a dark fairytale to them; things that only happen in stories or dreams. So when they first encounter the loss of a beloved family member or other living thing that they love, it can be a frightening thing.
”’I don’t want to die.

‘No, Not now. Your time’s not now. But dying’s a part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can’t pick out the pieces you like and read the rest. Being part of the while thing, that’s the blessing.”
The first thing they think of is probably the fanciful wish of ‘I want to live forever.’ But is it really worth it? This book tackles that very question (and death itself) with fierce sensitivity and care, asking and hopefully answering the timeless question. The Tucks are very salt of the earth people who show Winnie that living forever isn’t all that’s its made out to be, and she should treasure life and the cycle of it for what it is. And yet...

There’s that tantalizing little bottle of spring water Jesse gives her to drink when she becomes of age so she can live with him forever. Yet another con of living forever; you can’t love or form attachments, because they all wither and die around you. Half of you wants Winnie to drink the bottle, while the other half yells at her not to. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether she made the right decision.

Winnie has the spunk and spirit of a modern day girl, but the pluck of some of the most timeless heroines of children’s literature (such as Anne of Green Gables, Sarah Crewe, and Pippi Longstocking). She’s practical, passionate, and sensitive; a heroine that all children can probably identify with.
”Winnie did not believe in fairy tales. She had never longed for a magic wand, did no expect to marry a prince, and was scornful- most of the time- of her grandmother’s elves.”
Winnie was fairly fleshed out, though to be honest I thought she was better fleshed out in the movie. But I loved her interactions with the Tucks, and watching the process of her realizing what it would mean to truly never die.

The only complaint I really have with this is the relationship between Jesse and Winnie. Don't get me wrong, they were cute together, but I have to admit I cringed just a tad when the 17-year-old Jesse proposed marriage to ten-year-old Winnie. I mean, love conquers all and I get he's lonely but.... ew?? At least in the Disney version they upped her age so it wouldn't seem so icky when he did that.

Despite that one issue, I still really enjoyed this book. A timeless classic for any library young and old, this gem of a book shows you that a short children’s novel can be just as deep, profound, and meaningful as any literary tome out there.
”’Life’s got to be lived, no matter how long or short. You got to take what comes. We just go along, like everyone else, one day at a time.”
Profile Image for Renata.
132 reviews135 followers
November 3, 2016
Many more readers if all ages are now enjoying the wide range of powerful stories written for YA audiences. Tuck Everlasting has remained one of my favorites.
I'm writing this quick little review today because I learned the author, Natalie Babbitt, has just passed away and so her stories and the ways in which they touched my life are foremost in my mind today.
I taught this book for many years as a fifth grade teacher and I hope it continues to be read by readers of all ages. It is a lyrical, philosophical book. Tadiana wrote such a beautiful review...it captivated me all over again. I'll reread the book tonight in tribute to Ms Babbitt.
Profile Image for Melanie  Brinkman.
619 reviews77 followers
May 9, 2020
Immortality: A blessing or a curse?

When Winnie Foster discovers a spring that grants eternal life on her family's property, she has no idea the powers it holds. But when she meets the Tuck's, who all drank from it, they let her in on on the realities of watching life go by and never growing older. Just as Winnie must decide whether to join them or not, a slimy stranger comes to steal the water.

Will Winnie keep the Tucks' secret?

Oh how the passing of years brings cheers along with fears. One week could be life changing.

Trigger warnings for kidnapping, talk of previous injuries, injury of an animal, and animal death.

Frustrated, imaginative Winnie longed to live a normal life, or maybe even have an adventure. When she finally escaped the day to day tedium, the young girl proved herself to be a passionate and sensitive heroine. Did I find her logic/reasoning flimsy? Yes. But did I enjoy seeing the 10 year old get the chance to be happy? Yes.

Family is forever, especially for the Tucks'. Caring, gentle, secretive, careful, these old souls carried on in states of happy anguish. Maybe a little less than Winnie, I loved these simple, well-crafted people. They were endearingly melancholic, and I enjoyed seeing their different views on immortality. Love conquers all, but a relationship between a 10 year old and 17+ year old? NO.

What would you do if your journey never ended? Easy yet artistic prose lulls you into a magically bittersweet tale. A quick read, Tuck Everlasting was a comfortably sharp answer to the saying "To much of a good thing." Calling to question the true meanings of time and timelessness, eternity and the cycle of life, right and wrong, Natalie Babbitt's book gave me a lot to think about. Unexpected, it's ending was sweetly sad.

I'm glad I did not wait forever to read Tuck Everlasting.
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