Tuck Everlasting

By Natalie Babbitt, Gregory Maguire

246,681 ratings - 3.87* vote

Critically acclaimed when it was first published, Tuck Everlasting has become a much-loved, well-studied modern-day classic. This anniversary edition features an in-depth interview conducted by Betsy Hearne in which Natalie Babbitt takes a look at Tuck Everlasting twenty-five years later. This title has Common Core connections.

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Book details

Kindle Edition, 144 pages
January 20th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

(first published 1975)

Original Title
Tuck Everlasting
0374480095 (ISBN13: 9780374480097)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


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?

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

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.



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.

Aj the Ravenous Reader

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!


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.


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.


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!


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.

Fabian {Councillor}

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.


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.