In this short chapter book Babbitt captures the innocence of youth and its curiosity for life and love. The story begins with Mae Tuck riding down to Treegap to visit her two sons, Miles and Jesse, as she does every ten years. What is not immediately brought to the reader’s attention at this point is that Mae and her family are immortal. Originally from Treegap, they accidently stumbled upon a really old tree and drank from the stream at its roots not knowing the water had unnatural properties; it grants immortality. What might have been a blessing was only a burden. One of the sons soon meet little Winnie Foster, a child of the family who owns the forest where the tree resides, and attempts to entangle her in their everlasting life. Winnie’s infatuation for forces her to choose between living a normal life for living forever. The ending will completely surprise its young readers.
I first read this book in middle school for class and was one of the many girls sobbing at the end. It angered me; I couldn’t believe Winnie’s decision! I would never choose as she did. I would have chosen to live forever. The way the son comes back to Treegap years later to see if she’d chosen to live forever and finds that she’s dead and the tree has been cut down hit so hard, so fast, right to my heart. It was heartbreaking. I liked the way Babbitt used the frog to symbolize the bore Winnie felt life was at the beginning and then to show the immortality she gave up at the end. The moment she gave the frog the stream water I started balling. The ending left me a little shaken up and gloomy. My head couldn’t wrap around the concept of giving up that life she could have had. I recommend it to any growing reader. I loved the themes of life, love, and appreciating what you have in the now. An AMAZING book.