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Tuck Turns 40

On Tuck Everlasting’s 40th anniversary, Gregory Maguire hosts an evening dedicated to the Natalie Babbitt YA classic in New York City’s Symphony Space, and SLJ talks to the 82-year-old Babbitt.
Natalie Babbitt at Symphony Space.

Natalie Babbitt at Symphony Space.

A blog tour, a hashtag (#Tuck40th), and a special anniversary edition are just some of the ways that the kid lit community is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting (FSG, 1975). The book—which asks the question “What if you could live forever?”—has become a staple on many schools’ reading lists and is considered a classic example of children’s literature. In the story, 10-year-old Winnie encounters the Tuck family, who have a spring whose water grants eternal life. Winnie must decide whether to drink the water. In 1975, the year Tuck was published, Babbitt tells SLJ that the topic of death in children’s literature was still somewhat taboo. She is delighted that the book has, and continues to be, used by teachers—especially in fifth grade, a time she describes as “a magical turning point.” Gregory Maguire and Natalie Babbitt.

Gregory Maguire and Natalie Babbitt.

Since its publication, the book has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide, and on January 20, an anniversary edition was released containing bonus material, with an introduction by Gregory Maguire. Maguire also hosted a special anniversary event at New York City’s Symphony Space on January 25, where he interviewed the 82-year-old Babbitt, calling her a “living legend” and an “American magician of words” and comparing her to author Willa Cather for her ability to paint the American landscape so vividly. Over the course of the evening, Babbitt shared some backstory about the novel. At the time she was writing the book, Babbitt and her husband, Samuel, had a lake house in Forestport, NY, which became the setting for the novel. It was also in that lake house that her three children first heard Tuck read aloud to them before the book’s publication, by their father. Lucy, Babbitt’s youngest, tells SLJ that even as a young child she “knew right away that it was something special.” The actual lake and cabin in Forestport, NY that served as the setting of Tuck Everlasting

The actual lake and cabin in Forestport, NY that served as the setting of "Tuck Everlasting."

The lake house was also the inspiration for the cover art, which Babbitt herself created. She began her career as an aspiring book illustrator, and it was famed editor Michael di Capua who gave Babbitt the confidence to try her hand at writing. “I would have been working in a diner if it wasn’t for Michael,” she says to SLJ over the telephone. Present at the Symphony Space event was di Capua, who played down his role. “Every one of her manuscripts was perfect, except for the punctuation,” he says to SLJ when asked about their working relationship. “Then, after the first few books, the punctuation was fine.” The cover of the anniversary edition does not use Babbitt’s original cover art. Instead, it features a new cover, by Bagram Ibatoulline. Babbitt is quite pleased with the change and was moved that her publisher, Macmillan, gave her the original art work for the cover. Much like Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (Harper Collins, 1995), which became a musical in 2003, Tuck Everlasting is also a musical on the road to Broadway. The production is being directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw and opened at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA, on January 21. (It will run until February 22.) As part of the anniversary celebration, 40 bloggers around the country, including SharpRead, and NovelNovice, are asking and answering the question, “What if you can live forever?” over the course of 40 days (January 1−February 9). In addition, bloggers are giving away copies of the new anniversary edition. For coverage of the celebration throughout the year and to participate in the conversation, follow the twitter hashtag #Tuck40th. @danasquare tweets her response to the "live forever" question: When asked what she wants as a legacy, Babbitt says to SLJ, “That my books do not play down to kids.”
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Margaret seaver montarras

vive Nathalie ...I must confess first my dad had dinner with you years ago...he died almost 10 years ago..so,he was about ten years older than you...my newly joined colleage is reading , Tuck Everlastîg to our three fifth grade classes...I turned him on to my favorite. Knee Knock Rise...oh I usually don't like dogs...but if...I love beagles...My new colleague Greg Jacks gave me some incredibly new insights into Knee Knock Rise...oh I,do,adore Searchfor Deliscious too and Eyes for Amaryllis...thank you Mme Babbit

Posted : Mar 03, 2015 02:13


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