I was so sad to learn that Natalie Babbitt, author of the beautiful Tuck Everlasting, died yesterday at 84 years old, after a battle with lung cancer. Publisher’s Weekly has a lovely obituary about Babbitt’s life and work. In the AP article about her passing, I love this quote by her husband:
“She once said that her ambition was just to leave a little scratch on the rock..I think she did that with ‘Tuck Everlasting.'”
I more than agree. Tuck Everlasting is a book I read over and over as a kid, and I got something new out of it every time. I reread it as an adult a few years ago, and I was blown away by the precision of her writing–her craft was on point. I also write about how Tuck Everlasting stays with me as an adult and the power of children’s literature a little while back for Ploughshares.
I got to meet Babbitt briefly about ten years ago, when I first moved to Boston. She was doing a panel with Lowis Lowry and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and I got my copy of Tuck Everlasting signed. I don’t remember saying anything in particular to her (probably just “thank you for being here, I love your book”) or that she said anything in particular to me, but it was one of the first big writer experiences I had, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see her.
I’m so sorry that the world has lost Natalie Babbitt, but what a wonderful mark she’s made on the lives of so many readers. It seems appropriate to end with this quote from Tuck Everlasting:
“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”