Because I’m a young adult librarian, most of my booktalks are written for middle school and high school readers. All of the feedback I’ve received about this blog and podcast so far has always been from people interested in teen and adult literature. But then last week I received an email from a lovely librarian named Maura (waves) who was interested in booktalks for 4th-5th grade readers. So I decided that now was a good time to break out some of the booktalks I’ve written for the younger set, and one of the first booktalks I ever wrote for kids was about the classic novel Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.
This booktalk opens with an interactive element, which might end up being rewarding or distracting, depending on the class. I use interaction very infrequently, because there are a couple of risks involved. There’s the risk of the class getting so derailed by the discussion that it’s hard to wrangle their attention back to the “rehearsed” part of the booktalk afterwards. There’s the risk of the students getting into conversation mode, and having them try to talk back throughout the presentation. And on the other hand, there’s also the risk that you might ask these questions and be met with blank stares and the sound of crickets.
That being said, I decided to ask questions at the beginning of this booktalk because I wanted to make sure that everyone in my audience understood the concept of immortality before I started talking about the book.
Can anyone tell me what it means to be immortal?
Who thinks living forever would be a good thing?
Who thinks it would be a bad thing?
When the Tuck family first came into the Treegap forest and found a small spring, they never realized that drinking from it would change their lives – permanently. They didn’t notice anything different about themselves until months later, when Jesse fell headfirst out of a tall tree and wasn’t hurt. And when their horse was accidentally shot by a hunter who thought it was a deer, the bullet went right through without leaving a mark. The years passed, and no one in the family grew any older from the day they first drank from the spring. By the time they met 10-year-old Winnie Foster, they hadn’t aged in 87 years.
Winnie met the Tuck family because she had decided to run away from home and explore the Treegap Woods – the same woods that contained the magical spring. When she met the family, she learned their secret as well. She soon realized that immortality was both a blessing and a curse, and that some secrets are so valuable that they can be dangerous to keep.