Children's Book Author Natalie Babbitt Dies At 84 Natalie Babbitt died Monday at her home in Connecticut at age 84. She was a writer who never talked down to the children she wrote for. That included covering big concepts like death.
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Children's Book Author Natalie Babbitt Dies At 84

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Children's Book Author Natalie Babbitt Dies At 84

Children's Book Author Natalie Babbitt Dies At 84

Children's Book Author Natalie Babbitt Dies At 84

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Natalie Babbitt died Monday at her home in Connecticut at age 84. She was a writer who never talked down to the children she wrote for. That included covering big concepts like death.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now we're going to remember the children's book writer Natalie Babbitt, who died yesterday at her home in Connecticut. She was famous for exposing kids to big, difficult concepts like death.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

NATALIE BABBITT: Your favorite dog or cat is run over in the street - your grandmother. It's around us all the time. And why adults think they have to hide all of that stuff - I think are quite wrong.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Natalie Babbitt's best-known book was "Tuck Everlasting." In it, a girl named Winnie meets a family who've drunk from a secret spring and can't die. Winnie's tempted to join them in immortality. But to the family, it's a curse. Here's Babbitt reading from that book in 2015.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BABBITT: (Reading) She raged against it, helpless and insulted, and blurted at last, I don't want to die. No, said Tuck calmly. Not now - your time is not now. But dying's part of the wheel - right there next to being born. You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing - that's the blessing.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TUCK EVERLASTING")

JONATHAN JACKSON: (As Jesse Tuck) You can't have living without dying. Don't be afraid of death, Winnie. Be afraid of the unlived life.

CORNISH: "Tuck Everlasting" was made into two movies, including this one in 2002. It was also made into a Broadway show.

SHAPIRO: Natalie Babbitt wrote and illustrated many other books for young readers, including "The Search For Delicious," "The Eyes Of The Amaryllis" and "Kneeknock Rise," which won the Newbery Honor. In a 2012 interview, she fiercely defended the idea that children should not be talked down to.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BABBITT: In this country, children are irrelevant because they don't have any power. And they don't have money. And that feeds the way we tend to overlook them. And that bothers me.

CORNISH: Kids loved her for taking them seriously. They even gave her feedback, as she told NPR's Melissa Block in 2015.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BABBITT: I got a wonderful letter from a couple boys in Boston who thought I should add stuff in the beginning and - (laughter) so it wouldn't be so boring. But that's...

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: They had some ideas (laughter).

BABBITT: Yeah, they had some ideas. They wanted me to put motorcycle racing in the story (laughter).

BLOCK: That would've speeded things up, I suppose.

BABBITT: Yeah, it would.

SHAPIRO: Natalie Babbitt was 84 years old.

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