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Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt Lesson Plan | Tuck Everlasting Summary

Ten-year-old Winnie Foster is bored with her life. An only child with very serious parents, Winnie often daydreams about running away. One day, while in the woods, she comes across a boy drinking water from a spring. Little did she know that this chance encounter would change her life forever.

Student Activities for Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting Summary

Winnie Foster comes from a wealthy family and lives in the rural town of Treegap. The ten-year-old is an only child who wishes there was more to life than playing in her fenced-in yard all by herself. One day, while she was playing outside, a stranger in a yellow suit comes by and says that he is looking for a family. Winnie and her grandmother don’t know what he is talking about, and as he is leaving, they all hear strange music coming from the woods.

Winnie decides she would like to discover what’s in the woods, after all, it is her family’s property. As she is exploring, she comes across a teenage boy drinking water from a spring. When he sees her, she tells him that she’s thirsty and would like some water. But the boy, Jesse, adamantly refuses to let her. When Jesse’s mother, Mae, and his brother, Miles, arrive, they take Winnie with them out of town. Winnie sees the man in the yellow suit along the way, but does not yell for help.

Winnie is confused and upset, and Jesse tells her why she cannot drink from the spring: anyone who drinks that water does not age. They cannot die. They do not feel pain. Winnie cannot believe it. Jesse tells her that once she has met and talked to his father, Angus Tuck, they will return her home safely. They do not wish to harm her, they simply want to make sure she knows how important it is that no one knows about the spring. When Winnie arrives at the Tucks’ home, they are kind and care for her. They explain that because they do not age, they do not have normal lives. They cannot have friends, family, or relationships of any kind. Never aging is not as wonderful as it may seem; Miles was married with children, but his wife left him and took the children away. Jesse tells Winnie that if she drinks the water when she is seventeen, his age, they can be together forever.

Meanwhile, the man in the yellow suit has followed them to the Tucks’ home and steals their horse. The man in the yellow suit goes to the Fosters’ house and tells them that he knows where their daughter is. He says he will get her home safe under one condition: they sell the woods to him. Desperate to have their daughter home and unaware of the spring in the woods, the Fosters agree. The man in the yellow suit returns to the Tucks' home, riding ahead of the constable who is following him. He tells the Tucks that he is now the owner of the woods, and is planning on making a fortune selling the spring water to people who want to live forever. He plans to take Winnie, make her drink from the spring, and prove to people that he has the power of everlasting life. While he is trying to take Winnie away, Mae hits him on the head with the end of a shotgun, and the man in the yellow suit dies. The constable arrives in time to see Mae hit the man, and arrests her immediately. Winnie tries to explain what happened, but the constable takes Mae away; she will be tried and hanged for killing the man in the yellow suit. The Tucks are frightened, for if Mae is hanged and cannot die, the secret of the spring will be discovered, and it will cause chaos.

When Winnie gets home, Jesse secretly visits her and gives her a bottle of the spring water. He still wants Winnie to drink it when she’s seventeen so they can be together forever. He tells Winnie of their plan to break Mae out of jail and run away. Winnie wants to help, and offers to sneak in the jail cell and pretend to be Mae, giving the family more time to get away. The plan works and the Tucks are able to get away and be free. A few weeks later, Winnie sees a dog trying to eat a toad, and Winnie rescues the toad. She pours the spring water over it, and watches as it hops away. Many years later, the Tucks return to Treegap and Angus Tuck sees Winnie’s gravestone; she had a long life and a family, and died a mother and a wife. Angus Tuck is happy, and as he is leaving, he sees the toad hopping by.

Tuck Everlasting is a magical story about the value of life, friendship, and family. It is a perfect addition to any classroom curriculum, either as a read aloud, a small group book, or an independent novel study.

Essential Questions for Tuck Everlasting

  1. What are the challenges that the Tuck family faces?
  2. What is the main theme of the novel?
  3. What is the significance of the toad in the story?
  4. Do you agree with Winnie’s decision not to drink the water? What would you have done?

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