Cover of the 25th anniversary edition with Babbitt illustration
|Subject||Immortality, aging, secrets|
|Genre||Children's fantasy novel, drama|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|LC Class||PZ7.B1135 Tu|
Tuck Everlasting is an American children's novel written by Natalie Babbitt and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1975. It explores the concept of immortality, which might not be as desirable as it may appear to be. It has sold over two million copies and has been called a classic of modern children's literature.
Tuck Everlasting has been adapted into two feature films, released in 1981 and 2002, and three times into unabridged audio books: by Listening Library/Random House in 1988 and narrated by Peter Thomas, by Recorded Books in 1993 and narrated by Barbara Caruso, and by Audio Bookshelf in 2001 and narrated by Melissa Hughes. It has also been adapted into a stage musical with music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, and book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle.
Ten-year-old Winnie Foster is tired of her family and is thinking of running away from her home in rural Treegap. One day, while in a wooded area her family owns, she sees a boy about the age of 17 drinking from a spring. He tells her that his name is Jesse Tuck and forbids her from drinking the water. Soon after, his brother, Miles, and mother, Mae, take her away with them and explain what is happening and why they did what they did. All the while, they are being 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 is magical, and grants eternal life to anyone who drinks its water. They discovered its effects by accident after heading to the Treegap area to try and build a new life for themselves. In the process, Miles had to deal with his wife leaving him and taking their children with her. 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, who teaches her about the life cycle that they are no longer a part of and why she must keep their secret.
Meanwhile, the man in the yellow suit has been pursuing the Tucks. Once he discovers Winnie has been taken by them and overhears their whole conversation, 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 because he has an ulterior 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 intensified his search within the previous six months. 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.
The man in the yellow suit then further angers the Tucks when he tells them that he plans to gather the water from the spring and sell it to the public. When they angrily refuse his offer to be partners in the venture because they desire privacy over the money, he then declares he does not need their permission to sell the water and begins to take Winnie away. He tells the Tucks that if they will not be his examples, then she will. He says that a child would be a better example, and there is nothing they can do to stop him. Mae, in a last-ditch effort to put an end to the confrontation, grabs her husband's shotgun by the barrel and threatens the man in the yellow suit with it. The man in the yellow suit tries to escape, while Miles tries to stop his mother from attacking the man. Just as the constable rides up to the farm, Mae whips the gun around so hard that its stock strikes the man in the yellow suit in the back of the head, with enough force to fracture his skull on impact. Mae is arrested while the man in the yellow suit is carried inside the farm house, and when the blow later proves fatal she is condemned to the gallows and scheduled for execution the next morning.
Angus, Miles, and Jesse realize that their secret will be revealed once Mae is hanged, so they take Winnie with them and go to the jail and spring her from her cell. Then Winnie takes her place so the Tucks can safely get away. Although they are reunited, there is no more reason for them to be in Treegap, as Mae is now a fugitive from justice. Before departing, Jesse gives Winnie a bottle of the special water so she might drink it when she turns 17 and follow them and marry him. She gives it consideration but decides not to and pours it onto a toad, because she thinks that if she changes her mind then she can go to the spring to get more.
Many years later, Mae and Angus return to Treegap and find that it has changed a great deal – the wooded area is gone and so is their spring; the town has become a typical suburban metropolis. While there, they happen to visit a cemetery where they discover what happened to Winnie: she went on to marry, and had died two years before in 1948. Though Angus Tuck is saddened by this, he also praises Winnie for choosing not to drink the water. They come across a toad near her grave but they are unaware that it is the same one that she had poured water on years before.
- Winnie Foster – The novel's protagonist, she is ten years old when the novel begins and lives in Treegap, New Hampshire.
- Angus Tuck – The father of the Tuck children, he dislikes his immortality and dreams of dying and going to heaven.
- Mae Tuck – Described as a "great potato of a woman with a round, sensible face and calm brown eyes," Mae is the mother of the Tuck children and is married to Angus. She is happy with her lifestyle wearing old clothes and living in a messy house. She owns a music box that she carries around with her.
- Jesse Tuck – The youngest in his family, Jesse is 104 years old but physically appears to be an older teenager, about 17 years old.
- Miles Tuck – Appearing to be 22 years old, Miles is the older brother of Jesse and the son of Angus and Mae. He is trained as a carpenter and blacksmith. His wife divorced him because she believed that he must have sold his soul to the devil to have maintained his youthful appearance after they had been married for almost 20 years.
- The man in the yellow suit – The novel's antagonist, he is tall and graceful and pursues the Tuck family for years after hearing rumors of their secret.
Awards and recognition
Tuck Everlasting has received awards including the Janusz Korczak Medal and the 1976 Christopher Award as best book for young people. It was named an ALA Notable Book and included on the Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List. In 2005 it was covered by Anita Silvey in The 100 Best Books for Children. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named it one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was ranked number 16 among the "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time in a 2012 survey published by School Library Journal. The Broadway musical received a Tony Award nomination for Gregg Barnes in the category of Best Costume Design of A Musical for the 2015-2016 season.
The novel has twice been adapted to film. The first was released in 1981 and distributed by One Pass Media. The second, by Disney in 2002, was directed by Jay Russell and starred Alexis Bledel as Winnie, Jonathan Jackson as Jesse, William Hurt as Angus, Sissy Spacek as Mae, and Ben Kingsley as the man in the yellow suit. It received mixed but generally favorable reviews and currently (November 2016) holds a 61% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Post praised it as 'handsomely crafted and well-acted'. It grossed a little over $19 million at the domestic box office and did not receive a wide release in foreign territories.
The novel has been adapted into a stage musical with music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, and book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle. It was originally scheduled for a pre-Broadway run at Boston's Colonial Theatre, in June 2013, but plans were abandoned due to a lack of theatre availability in New York. It was produced at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, in January and February 2015, with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw. The musical began previews on Broadway, on March 31, 2016, at the Broadhurst Theatre, with its opening on April 26, 2016. Carolee Carmello and Andrew Keenan-Bolger played the mother and her son, with Michael Park (Angus), Terrence Mann (Man in the Yellow Suit), Fred Applegate (Constable Joe), Robert Lenzi (Miles Tuck), Michael Wartella (Hugo), and Valerie Wright (Betsy Foster). Sarah Charles Lewis played Winnie. The production closed on May 29, 2016.
- "Tuck everlasting". Library of Congress Online Catalog (catalog.loc.gov). Retrieved 2015-09-24.
- 1950, based on the events told
- "Tuck Everlasting: Character Traits & Analysis | Study.com". Study.com. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
- "Jesse Tuck in Tuck Everlasting". www.shmoop.com. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
- "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". National Education Association. 2007. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Bird, Elizabeth (July 7, 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Retrieved 2015-09-24.
- "Tuck Everlasting (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
- Lou Lumineck. "New York Post film review". Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- Tuck Everlasting alliancetheatre.org, accessed May 31, 2015
- Gordon, David. " 'Tuck Everlasting' Musical Announces Broadway Dates" May 13, 2015
- Gioia, Michael. "Carolee Carmello and Andrew Keenan-Bolger Will Return to Broadway as Mother and Son in 'Tuck Everlasting'" Playbill, September 17, 2015