Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt

tuck everlastingReading level: 5.9
Lexile: 720
Genre: Fantasy, classics
ELL-Friendly: Not particularly
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

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.

Tuck Everlasting is as beautiful and sweet as the cover portrays. Somehow I’d never read this classic until now (I mean, the audiobook was only 3ish hours long). My favorite part was definitely the poetic language, and lots of teachers read this book as a class and teach it because of the language. Plus, it’s a short read.

The message of the whole book was beautiful too, and it makes the reader think about whether or not you would drink the spring water and live forever. The point is that, no, you probably wouldn’t. Then  you’ll stop and think about life – how everything has a purpose and eventually lives out that purpose, not to mention how hard and lonely it would be to stay the same while everybody and everything changes.

This book was also kind of weird. Like, Winnie falls in love with her captors pretty quickly. Sure, she didn’t love her home that much, but she’s a little girl! Sounds a little like Stockholm Syndrome to me.

The weirdest part was Jesse falling in love with Winnie. He had JUST met her, and she’s, what, 10 years old? Stop it, Jesse. You’re desperate. Before it could get too creepy, though, the book had a lovely ending. I won’t spoil it, but I was very pleased just as I was thinking, “Winnie, you best not spend eternity with a boy you don’t know.”

Read aloud as a class, I think ELLs would be alright. However, the regional dialect spoken by the Tucks might be confusing for low level students. That said, Scholastic has determined that the interest level is 3rd grade, and it’s definitely a middle level book and too young for high school…unless the readers are quite low and need a short, simple book with complex themes.

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