In class, we have been doing a close reading of “Tuck Everlasting” for the last few days. We re-read the Prologue and Chapter 1, annotating when necessary. It is so amazing to hear my students say, “Wow! I didn’t even realize that circle had meaning the first time I read it!” I think they are starting to understand the need to sometimes re-read parts of a book, especially when you want to clarify certain points or respond to the book in writing. This is a skill they will need to hone as they move through the middle school and high school and one they aren’t explicitly taught at any grade level. I am having so much fun with it!
Today, we read an excerpt from “Circling Tuck: An Interview with Natalie Babbitt” from Horn Book in 2000. The interview is wonderful and Babbitt shares a lot of great information with the readers. My students loved that fact that Babbitt admits that Man in the Yellow Suit only wears a yellow suit because she needed a two syllable word and “nobody wears purple”. Throughout the book, my students could not figure out why Babbitt has the man wear a yellow suit when yellow usually symbolizes happiness or sunshine. Needless to say, they think it is hysterical that there is such a practical reason for the color of his suit.
They also loved the fact that Babbitt chose the last name Tuck because in the past, tuck meant life. This information gave a whole new perspective to the book and the themes that run through it. Most students noted that this was their favorite fact in the interview. They had no idea that words sometimes gain and lose meanings as time goes on, and tuck is a word they were previously familiar with. Hearing that an author put that much time and effort into choosing a character’s last name really fascinated them.
It was great sharing Babbitt’s interview with my class. I could see their knowledge growing and they admitted that even though the book started slowly, they are so glad they gave it a chance because, “It really is an awesome book, Miss M.”! YES!!!