by Natalie Babbit


To live forever—isn't that the stuff of fairytales? Not for the Tuck family who discover a spring of eternal life. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster discovers their secret spring, she is confronted with issues concerning the meaning of life and death. When an unscrupulous stranger also makes this discovery, Winnie must face issues of greed and ethics as well. This sensitively written novel combines adventure, imagination, and real-life issues into a compelling story.


1. Briefly describe the Fosters’ house and yard. How do they reflect the Fosters’

2. What does Mr. Tuck dream? What does the dream suggest about Mr. Tuck’s
attitude toward his life?

3. What thoughts does Winnie express to the toad? How does she feel about her life? How does the weather reflect her feelings?

4. What draws Winnie to the woods? What is Jesse Tuck doing when Winnie first sees him? What does she think of Jesse?

5. What secret do the Tucks share with Winnie? Why do they kidnap her? How does Winnie feel about the Tucks?

6. Who overhears the Tucks’ secret? How do the actions of this character create
suspense, or tension, in the plot?

7. Review your answer to the question in the Focus Activity. After reading about the
Tucks, would you change your answer? Why? How might the Tucks answer the

8. Compare and contrast the Tucks’ house and way of life with the Fosters’. Which
does Winnie seem to prefer? Why?

9. When Mr. Tuck takes Winnie rowing, what does he talk about? How does he feel
about living forever? How does Winnie respond to what he says?

10. Why does the man in the yellow suit go to the Fosters’ house? What do the constable’s remarks about the gallows seem to foreshadow, or predict, for the Tucks?

11. At the Tucks’ house, what plan does the man in the yellow suit announce? Why, do you think, does Mae Tuck hit him? How does this scene mark a turning point for Winnie?

12. How does Winnie’s talk with Miles when they go fishing relate to her earlier talk with Angus?

13. What suggestion does Jesse make to Winnie? Does her interest in Jesse surprise you? Explain.

14. What plan does Miles have to free Mae from jail? How will Winnie help? What will happen if Mae is sent to the gallows?

15. Why does Winnie feel guilty about helping with the jail break? Why does she decide to help anyway?

16. What does Winnie do with the bottle of springwater Jesse gave her? What does this action suggest about what she believes? What does it hint about her future?

17. In the epilogue, what parts of the description suggest the passage of time? What has happened to the woods and spring? Why does Tuck say “Good girl” when he sees Winnie’s gravestone?

18. Tuck moves a toad out of harm’s way as he and Mae leave Treegap. What do you make of this incident?