Bridge to Terabithia: The pain and joy of being a child

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Katherine Paterson Bridge to TerabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

They say that the book is often better than the movie and that statement definitely applies to Bridge to Terabithia. The movie gets only 2 stars, but the book is worthy of 5 stars. While the movie had very good actors and great special effects, somewhere along the way it lost the soul of the book. No other piece of fantasy writing has so clarified for me the exquisite pain and joy of being a child. Of being terrified of one’s powerlessness, while at the same time being elated at discovering friendship and the use of one’s imagination.

Bridge to Terabithia was first read to me as a child by my sixth grade religion teacher. I have often wondered what made her choose this book, but now I believe that it was the message of hope Katherine Paterson concludes her story with that appealed to my teacher. For me it was the perseverance of the main character that I found so appealing. I don’t know if you will find deep religious meaning in this book, but I doubt you will come away from reading it without feeling some spiritual resonance.

Paterson’s writing style is geared for children (the book is recommended for kids 9 and up) so it is direct and simple. This should not be confused with juvenile or remedial. I believe that Bridge to Terabithia will be just as engaging to an adult as a child, and that deeper meaning will be found by the adult in Paterson’s words.

Bridge to Terabithia — (1977) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A secret world of their own. Jess Aaron’s greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new kid, a new girl, boldly crosses over to the boy’s side of the playground and outruns everyone. That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. It doesn’t matter to Jess that leslie dresses funny, or that her family has a lot of money — but no TV. Leslie has imagination. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

FanLit thanks Will Daniels for this contribution to our site!


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