Natalie Babbitt

Natalie Babbitt

As a child, Natalie Babbitt loved to read fairy tales and myths, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised that her own writing features a lot of fantasy. Novels like Tuck Everlasting, Knee-Knock Rise, The Eyes of Amaryllis, and The Search for Delicious all have varying combinations of adventure, the supernatural, and big questions about mortality, religion, and human relationships. Best of all, Babbitt's stories feature great, relatable young characters at the heart of all the action.

Prompt for Grades K-2 (Level I)

Phoebe's Revolt

What happens when you and your parents or friends don't agree about something — do you throw a fit or try to compromise? When eight-year-old Phoebe gets tired of all the fancy clothes her mother makes her wear (Phoebe's Revolt), she puts up a fuss and refuses to get dressed for her party. She and her Mom eventually come to a compromise, but only after her Dad gets involved. Tell us about a time you had to make a compromise.

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Prompt for Grades 3-5 (Level II)

In The Search for Delicious, the citizens of a magical kingdom can't agree on the definition of the word "delicious" for their official dictionary. Speaking of definitions… can you come up with a word that isn't in the dictionary but should be? Comedian Rich Hall called these sniglets, but another name for a newly coined word is neologism — "neo" means new in Greek and "logos" means word. Here's an example: the word "staycation," which means a vacation spent close to home, was added to Webster's Dictionary in 2009. Send us up to three new words or phrases, along with their definitions.

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Prompt for Grades 6-8 (Level III)

In Knee-Knock Rise, Egan sets off to discover the source of the noises coming from the mountaintop. He makes a surprising discovery about the noise, but for our purposes we're interested in his journey. The hero's journey, what Joseph Campbell called "monomyth," is a common pattern, or archetype, in stories. It includes three big stages — separation, initiation, and return, with several substages within each one. We'd like you to write a short story that involves one of the stages or substages of the hero's journey.

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Prompt for Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

Tuck Everlasting

If you had the choice, would you want to live forever? In Tuck Everlasting, perhaps Natalie Babbitt's most famous book, ten-year-old Winnie Foster faces that choice when she wanders into the woods and comes across the Tuck family who has discovered the fountain of youth. If you were Natalie, would you drink from the magic water of immortality or refuse it?

Write a persuasive essay that takes a position for or against living forever and develop your argument using solid reasoning. Convince us that your position is the right one.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943