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Tuck, then, now, and always

Well, it’s just past the first week of August, but it’s always a good time to visit with old (in this case, very, very old) friends.

This year marks the 40th publication anniversary of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting. FSG/Square Fish put out a lovely new hardcover edition — with a foreword by Gregory Maguire — in January.

As an everlasting Tuck Everlasting fan, I was lucky to meet Ms. Babbitt a few years ago at the Simmons Center for the Study of Children’s Literature Summer Institute (say that five times fast). She very graciously signed my childhood copy of Tuck (a beat-up Trumpet Club Special Edition paperback); I hope that she found it endearing that I still have it.

tuck everlasting editions

babbitt signature

Signed super-old copy aside, though, I’m looking forward to revisiting Winnie and the Tuck family (and that immortal frog!) in the new edition. Maguire writes in his foreword,

While a reader can never go back and encounter a book again for the first time, one of the many miracles in storytelling is this: A story has an infinite number of opportunities to begin…The endings of stories are intact, waiting for you to get there. For every “once upon a time there” is a “happily ever after.”

Well. Almost. This story may be an exception to that rule. For while this story has an absolute beginning, a “once upon a time,” Tuck Everlasting — alone of all the stories I have ever read in my entire life — has no absolute end.

…I can reread Tuck Everlasting over and over, even though when I meet Winnie Foster again standing in her front yard, I know exactly what she will do later in the book.

What I don’t know is what it will mean to me now.

What’s stuck with me since my childhood reading (and rereading) of Tuck Everlasting — along with beloved Winnie and the Tucks, and the tantalizing possibility of immortality — are questions about the nature of time and the lifespan of a story. And while a reread might not answer those questions, it will certainly give me new reasons and ways to ponder them.

 

The Summer Institute just came around again on the Ferris wheel of time; don’t miss our recap (and poem “Goodnight Paresky Room“!).

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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