Books

Natalie Babbitt and “The Search For Delicious…”

I was saddened to hear of the death of writer Natalie Babbitt this week at 84. She was probably best known for Tuck Everlastingabout a family grappling with immortality. But I knew her more from The Search For Deliciousone of those books from the shelves of my youth that I still occasionally take down for another perusal. In it, a kingdom’s prime minister enlists his 12-year-old messenger, Gaylen, to help avoid a civil war by polling the citizenry on the best definition for “delicious” for a new dictionary. Not all the books you loved as a child return that love on re-reading decades later, but this is one that does, and I’m grateful for that and to Babbitt for writing it.

It begins:

“In his workroom at the top of the tower, DeCree, the Prime Minister, was pacing up and down. Occasionally he would pause, throw up his arms in a gesture of helplessness, and then resume his pacing. From her perch, his cockatoo watched with beady interest, turning her head this way and that as he crossed and recrossed before her…”

 

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