Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Publisher: Square Fish
Winnifred Foster has lived in a small, secluded village called Treegap all of her life. On an ordinary day, she hears the sound of a music box coming from deep within the woods. She follows the sound and finds a young boy, Jesse, who holds an important secret of which few know. He is a seventeen-year-old boy who is frozen in time. There is great fear among Jesse and his family: they are deeply afraid Winnie will discover the source of their everlasting life and make the same mistake they did. In an attempt to deter her from choosing this path, they kidnap her and share with her what no one else knows: the spring at the back of her property is the source of their immortality. They warn her that she must never drink from it, that living forever is not the blessing it may seem to be. She is left to decide for herself what her path will be...to drink or not to drink.
This is a beautifully written story that leaves the reader thinking about the true meaning of life and questioning what he or she would do given the choice to live forever or die as humans usually do. The text provides perfect context for deep, thought-provoking classroom discussions and group or individual research projects. Furthermore, this heartwarming story can be used for required reading for children ages ten to twelve and is sure to enrich their lives as a result. It is rich with figurative language and has all of the essential elements of good story writing, with clear and easily definable conflict and resolution. Its twists and turns entice the reader along the way and its unique ending leaves the reader feeling a sense of completeness. It is a true classic in nearly every way!