Monday, April 4, 2016

Class Review - Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Title: Tuck Everlasting
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Age Range: 9-12
Class Average Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:  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.

I taught this book for my homeschool co-op 5th/6th grade writing course (along with Island of the Blue Dolphins) and I thought it would be fun to include some excerpts from their reviews. So, take a look and see what my students thought of the book! 

[The brackets throughout the review give the initials of the student that made that particular observation.]

Tuck Everlasting is a wonderful novel about a family that lives forever. Winnie Foster, a young girl, learns of the Tucks' family secret to immortality. She is torn between believing their story and thinking they are crazy. [MH] The Tucks help her to help make a decision whether or not to drink from the spring (which gave them immortality). Her choice could drastically change the rest of her life. They want her to make an informed decision. What will she decide to do? To make things interesting, a villain is also out to get the water and its secrets. [LH] The big question is, is living forever a blessing or a misfortune? [ES]

What my students loved:
  • Magical realism.  Lots of my students said they loved the fact that the book is magical realism. [HA said] I ... like how there was some magic in the book and it was not all realistic. [ES said] All the characters in Tuck Everlasting make mistakes and do a few things that mess the situation up when they are trying to help. They are not perfect, just as we aren't, which makes them normal people, because we are all sinners ... The magic of the spring and the reality of the people in the book is a unique mixture that stirs up excitement along the way.
  • The writing.  [JT said] The author was creative when she developed the characters. She made them different, but they really came together to make a great story, like pieces of a puzzle. [JJP said] I really liked the wording in it, as the author used a lot of very descriptive phrases and words. (I agree with this!)
  • Relatability. A few students related well to Winnie's character. [HA said] I ... love that Winnie was my age, so I feel maybe I could have been in the situation too. [SL said] Like me, she didn't like being bossed around.
  • Excitement and surprises.  Most of my students felt that the story was exciting. [My daughter Danielle said] I liked this book so much that I wanted to read it all in one day. I really love the adventure to the book because you really have no idea what is going to happen. [JP said] I liked ... how it was so exciting and unexpected. [AJ said] The ending was so surprising, yet at times sad. I had mixed emotions with the exciting but also sad plot.
  • The Tucks. [SL said] I like that they are laid back, relaxed and have no rules.
  • The toad. I was surprised how many of my students mentioned that they loved the toad, who played a seemingly small part in the plot but made a big impact! [JT said] I live Winnie's toad because he gave comfort in her times of need. He helped her become a better person than she was before.
The negatives that my students mentioned:
  • Mismatched love? Lots of my female students thought the story was romantic, but one had a bit more down-to-earth perspective on Jesse and Winnie. [AH said] The thought of him being over 100 years old and falling in love with a 10-year-old was creepy. (Gotta kind of agree with her there!) Oh, and my daughter Danielle spotted instalove (an all-too familiar trope we adults love to hate). [Danielle said] One thing that I thought was funny about Winnie was that when she had only just met Jesse, she asked if he was married, which shows Winnie had fallen in love with Jesse the moment she saw him.
  • The pacing.  Some students thought the book moved too slowly. [LH said] I prefer books with a little more action; the story moved a little bit slow for my liking. [MH said] In general, I found it to be rather boring and dull.
  • Connection. [AJ said] At times the author would describe Winnie as crying, but there was not much detail. I wish the author had written more of Winnie's feelings. ... I would have been more attached if Winnie was described with such emotion that makes you able to picture it.
  • They want a series. Several of my students mentioned that they thought the book was too short and they wished it was a series!
Overall, my class seemed to love this book and it provided us with many lively discussions!  The average class rating was 4.5/5 stars.


  1. Older books like this can be "slow". We've been spoiled by fast paced novels plus our attention nowadays is super short no thanks to our gadgets.

    I love magic realism, it's my go-to feel-good genre for sure.

    1. Yes, we're definitely spoiled. Nowadays, we want everything right NOW!

  2. I really loved reading this book. The movie was really different though.

    1. I actually haven't seen the movie, but I want to. I agree that movies are usually pretty different though---and almost never as good as the book!

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  4. I loved this book when I was a kid. I'll have to re-read it soon :)