Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – Natalie Babbit

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This MMGM I want to highlight two short books by Natalie Babbit, an author who is still writing and publishing, but seems to have been a bit forgotten.

TUCK EVERLASTING, which was made into a slightly unsatisfying film a few years back, is a very concise and contained fantasy story about immortality. Here’s the blurb:

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.

There’s something very deep about this book, that was missing from the film. I think arguing the morality of immortality with a ten year old, as in the book, is just more meaningful than arguing it with a teenager, as Winnie was depicted in the film. The film got caught up in the romance (only an aspiration in the book), which I don’t think worked. Nevertheless, the book is a great read.

THE SEARCH FOR DELICIOUS is an adventure tale, perhaps aimed a little younger than TUCK. Here’s the blurb:

The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylan, to poll the citizenry. Gaylan soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country.

This is more along the lines of an old fashioned adventure story, and not as philosophical as TUCK EVERLASTING. However, it does cause readers to question the idea of what beauty and luxury is, and how it is based on what we lack.

Both books are very short, by today’s standards, at just under 30,000 words and both have reading levels in grade 5.

Moving on, I can’t wait to read BREATHING ROOM by Marsha Hayles. Blurb action:

Evvy Hoffmeister is thirteen years old when her family brings her to Loon Lake Sanatorium to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Evvy is frightened by her new surroundings; the rules to abide are harsh and the nurses equally rigid. But Evvy soon falls into step with the other girls in her ward. There’s Sarah, quiet but thoughtful; Pearl, who adores Hollywood glamour; and Dina, whose harshness conceals a deep strength. Together, the girls brave the difficult daily routines. Set in 1940 at a time of political unrest throughout the U.S. and Europe, this thought-provoking novel sheds light on a much-feared worldwide illness. Hundreds of thousands of people died each year of TB, and many ill children were sent away to sanatoriums to hopefully recover.

Believe it or not, I went to summer camp in an old tuberculosis sanatorium and have been fascinated with them ever since. WISHLISTED! It comes out  June 5, 2012.

More MMGMers here:

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8 thoughts on “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – Natalie Babbit

  1. TUCK EVERLASTING has long been one of my favorites. I’ve read it many times. But I haven’t read SEARCH FOR DELICIOUS.

    Natalie Babbitt has a new book out this month called MOON OVER HIGH STREET! Haven’t read that one either. Too many books, too little time.

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