Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

I hope you haven’t seen the movie because, once again, the book is better by far. A movie can’t capture Natalie Babbit’s lyrical, beautifully descriptive writing. Tweens may not appreciate her writing abilities as much as an English teacher like me, but they’ll likely be drawn into the story.

Winnie is an 11 year old girl, an only child, living a hum-drum summer at the family home in Treegap. She wanders into the woods and discovers a boy, Jessie, who is sitting by an underground brook. They speak briefly, but when she attempts to drink from the brook as she'd observed the boy doing earlier, events change rapidly. Jessie panics, his family arrives, they panic, and Winnie is suddenly carried off by them in a reluctant kidnapping.

Their explanation for their panicked behavior is quite unbelievable. They explain to Winnie that they had drunk from the creek some 80+ years ago. Much later, they found out that none of them could die. They figured out that it was because of the creek water.

Winnie quickly becomes fond of the quirky, gentle little family which is so different from her own. She is especially fond of Jessie. She will go home, but before that can be resolved, the man in yellow arrives. He obstensibly shows up to return Winnie to her family, but his real interest lies in selling the creek water to the public. In the only cringe-worthy moment of the book, Ma Tuck whacks the man on the back of the head with the butt of a rifle after he threatens Winnie and threatens to reveal this secret to the world. The Tucks have realized this will have horrible results.

Next, Ma Tuck is waiting in jail, headed for the gallows if the man dies. Of course, Ma Tuck can't die, which presents a whole new problem. Death would actually be a good thing in her case. She must be rescued, and Winnie decides to help. She also must decide if she will drink the water when she turns 17, as Jessie has suggested, and join him, literally forever.

Teaching Moments: There is a fascinating theme of the cycle of life and the the intregral role of death. Most interesting to me is the Tuck's explanation of the creek being something left over from a time when the world was originally created in a different way. This harks back to the Garden of Eden.

See: Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Man's First Sin: paragraph 400

Safety Rating: 3 Vatican Flags


Sara June 24, 2009 at 6:17 PM  

Just found your blog -- thank you!!!

Tween Lit Crit June 25, 2009 at 8:39 PM  

You're so welcome! Hope you find some new books...

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