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Bridge to Terabithia

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Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his 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 girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they 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.

Audio Cassette

First published October 21, 1977

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About the author

Katherine Paterson

158 books1,940 followers
From author's website:

People are always asking me questions I don't have answers for. One is, "When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?" The fact is that I never wanted to be a writer, at least not when I was a child, or even a young woman. Today I want very much to be a writer. But when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary. When I was twenty, I wanted to get married and have lots of children.

Another question I can't answer is, "When did you begin writing?" I can't remember. I know I began reading when I was four or five, because I couldn't stand not being able to. I must have tried writing soon afterward. Fortunately, very few samples of my early writing survived the eighteen moves I made before I was eighteen years old. I say fortunately, because the samples that did manage to survive are terrible, with the single exception of a rather nice letter I wrote to my father when I was seven. We were living in Shanghai, and my father was working in our old home territory, which at the time was across various battle lines. I missed him very much, and in telling him so, I managed a piece of writing I am not ashamed of to this day.

A lot has happened to me since I wrote that letter. The following year, we had to refugee a second time because war between Japan and the United States seemed inevitable. During World War II, we lived in Virginia and North Carolina, and when our family's return to China was indefinitely postponed, we moved to various towns in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, before my parents settled in Winchester, Virginia.

By that time, I was ready to begin college. I spent four years at King College in Bristol, Tennessee, doing what I loved best-reading English and American literature-and avoiding math whenever possible.

My dream of becoming a movie star never came true, but I did a lot of acting all through school, and the first writing for which I got any applause consisted of plays I wrote for my sixth-grade friends to act out.

On the way to becoming a missionary, I spent a year teaching in a rural school in northern Virginia, where almost all my children were like Jesse Aarons. I'll never forget that wonderful class. A teacher I once met at a meeting in Virginia told me that when she read Bridge to Terabithia to her class, one of the girls told her that her mother had been in that Lovettsville sixth grade. I am very happy that those children, now grown up with children of their own, know about the book. I hope they can tell by reading it how much they meant to me.

After Lovettsville, I spent two years in graduate school in Richmond, Virginia, studying Bible and Christian education; then I went to Japan. My childhood dream was, of course, to be a missionary to China and eat Chinese food three times a day. But China was closed to Americans in 1957, and a Japanese friend urged me to go to Japan instead. I remembered the Japanese as the enemy. They were the ones who dropped the bombs and then occupied the towns where I had lived as a child. I was afraid of the Japanese, and so I hated them. But my friend persuaded me to put aside those childish feelings and give myself a chance to view the Japanese in a new way.

If you've read my early books, you must know that I came to love Japan and feel very much at home there. I went to language school, and lived and worked in that country for four years. I had every intention of spending the rest of my life among the Japanese. But when I returned to the States for a year of study in New York, I met a young Presbyterian pastor who changed the direction of my life once again. We were married in 1962.

I suppose my life as a writer really began in 1964. The Presbyterian church asked me to write some curriculum materials for fifth- and sixth-graders. Since the church had given me a scholarship to study and I had married instead of going back to work in Japan, I felt I owed them something for their m

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,648 reviews
Profile Image for Elaine.
95 reviews33 followers
August 21, 2007
When I read this in fourth grade, I loved it because it was enchanting, and reminded me very much of 'secret hideouts' I made with friends at the same age. When I read it again later in life, aloud to my younger brother and sister ages 10 and 12, I was choking back tears to keep reading aloud, and they were crying. If you've never read it (or, I suppose now, seen the movie) beware, this review is a spoiler! What I have learned from this book is that our assumptions about children and what is "appropriate" for them are seriously flawed. We assume they need color, fantasy, and bling, and that they can't deal with "hard" topics like death and, oh, speaking of that, life. Kids are people too. And they do understand and can deal with hard topics in many ways better than us adults, who have learned to choke back the tears instead of actually crying. When I was a kid going to my secret hideouts, I wasn't just playing, I was escaping. If kids don't understand real life, then why do they run from it, then, as in this book (and in real life) gain life-altering skills while "away" and come back stronger? I may choke back tears now, but when I was 10, I went to my secret hideouts to cry and deal with things in my own way, in my own world, just like Leslie and Jesse do in Terabithia.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews13.9k followers
April 12, 2017
You would think that even after seeing the movie and knowing how this ends I wouldn't cry, but here I am.
This book was very enjoyable! I can't remember if I read it as a kid, but it was definitely worth reading now that I'm older.
The writing is pretty and gives you a very country-vibe with vibrant imagery and cozy settings, but I felt like the characters lacked a lot of description. Maybe it’s a children’s book and i’m not used to the shorter pace, but it felt like a lot more needed to be fleshed out. The relationships between the characters. Day-to-day activities. Dialogue scenes. It all just happened very quickly and it was hard to gauge how much time was actually passing, and it felt like the characters and plot were progressing faster than they probably actually were.
I really need to pick up more children’s classics because reading a book written and presumably set in the 70s was so captivating! References to the Vietnam war and the fearlessness about talking about religion and God was just something I rarely see today, and adding in details so particular to the time period almost 50 years ago now was just very cool!
I couldn’t get the movie out of my head when I read this, even though I haven’t seen the movie in years. Baby josh hutcherson is so precious that I think it added a spark to the book just seeing his face in my mind. However, comparing the book to the movie was a little bit detrimental because I think I liked the movie a little more? Just because it took more time to flesh out the characters and add detail to the world of Terabithia, whereas in the book Terabithia was, ironically, rather underexplained.
I loved how it described Jess as having a nervous gut. There were references to Jess having anxiety in this and i’m glad it wasn’t portrayed as something like HE NEEDS TO MAN UP! HE’S AFRAID OF SWIMMING AND HIS DAD PUTS A LOT OF PRESSURE ON HIM TO BE PERFECT, HE SHOULD BE THE MAN OF THE FAMILY! Instead it’s approached as if fear and shyness is natural and you need to work through it organically, and I thought that was really beautiful and encouraging.
Profile Image for Julie G.
895 reviews2,918 followers
August 14, 2023
Quick update from 2/19/22: We finally watched the movie (2007) they made of this classic. We enjoyed it immensely, and I love the visual magic they brought to the world of Terabithia. I'm happy to report, though, that it was not the sob fest for us that the book was. I found the movie a lot easier to bear than the written story.

Original review:
I'm heading out into the backyard now, in the dark, with a flashlight, a shovel, and my paperback copy of Bridge to Terabithia. I'm going to be careful not to dig a hole in the same place where I've buried Old Yeller, but to give this book its very own sacred burial space.

When I come back inside, I will inform my 11-year-old daughter that we are never going to talk about this book again.

“Never,” she will say.

We will look at each other and nod in agreement. We will never talk about this book again.

Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,397 followers
June 21, 2023
My damn heart is broken 😭😭😭😭😭😭

This book broke my heart and left me in tears when I finished up reading it. And I was not expecting it to be this sad and devastating in the end as I went into this children's classic blindly.

The story tells about the blooming friendship between two kids, Jesse Aarons, and his new neighbour, Leslie Burke, two lonely kids. Jess being the only male child in his family and expected to take care of errands and his sisters; Leslie being an outcast and bullied at school.

The story developed fine and the writing style made it feel like life becomes better with a friend, a sweet younger sibling who looks up to you, an understanding teacher and it's best to avoid negative people be it your family or so called 'friends'.

It's the second half that the writing got intense and got me sobbing mad. It dealt with death and grief which I feel were handled well. I cried more so because I got too attached to these characters as well as their pet dog P.T.

Leslie's character is delightful and memorable. She's such a nerd! And an amazing personality.

Jess's character is amusing. He's that personality which says there's always sunshine after a rainy day.

I love the fantasy world they built. It's something to be rejoiced and something for which a price had to be paid unfortunately.

I didn't enjoy the stereotypes of body shaming, the way some characters were described and in some instances the unwelcomed violence in a book which is meant for children.

But a memorable read indeed!
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,263 reviews2,438 followers
May 22, 2023
Unlike most readers here, I learned about this book only after my teenage years. I envy those who were able to read it when they were young. I will compensate for it, though, by giving this book to my future son or daughter, as I think that this is a book that all kids should read.

Creating secret hideouts in the woods with intricate details was one of my favorite hobbies when I was young. A few books by Enid Blyton acted as a catalyst for this behavior. So when I read about the magical kingdom of Terabithia, many nostalgic thoughts passed through my mind.

Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke will transport you to a new world through the marvelous writing of Katherine Paterson.

Can children’s books make an adult cry? Please read Bridge to Terabithia. You will instantly get an answer to the above question.

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Profile Image for Elizabeth.
702 reviews29.1k followers
September 25, 2018
Oh I loved this book too! Its so sweet, and sad and wonderful. I cried.

My teacher read it out loud in my 5th grade class and when the character died, I turned to the little boy next to me , and said, "That's not true is it?" and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and nodded. It was probably one of the first mature interactions I ever had with an "icky" boy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for thefourthvine.
571 reviews199 followers
June 4, 2007
This is one of the books that taught me that Books Can Hurt. It was part of what I now consider to be my fourth grade teacher's reign of terror - she read Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia out loud to us (and those are just the books I was in her class for), and I seriously think she did it for the days when, inevitably, the entire class would spend the afternoon weeping at our desks.

That said, though - and it needed to be said - this is a good book; it was so engaging to me at that age that I got it from the library after the first day she read it to us and finished it by myself later that night. (Admittedly, this was not uncommon behavior for me. I did not like reading at other people's paces.) Of course, this meant I got to cry twice, and also spend the intervening time trying not to cry because I knew what was coming.

The characters are engaging. The story is memorable even 25 years later. But this is the book that taught me two important lessons: do not trust Katherine Paterson as far as you can see her, and do not trust fourth grade teachers, either.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,140 reviews3,569 followers
April 18, 2014
This is absolutely a great book. I loved to read it!

I don't know if you ever watch the film from 2007, if you do, but you haven't read the book, I can tell you that the movie is a good adaptation BUT it can mislead you in the "fantasy" factor, even I used that label in my review but only because, at this moment, I don't have a better label to describe the book in a fair way.

I tell you all that since in the film, they gave a lot of emphasis and screen time to all "those magic creatures", however, they don't exist, in the book, the kids are really clear on that, they are playing sure, but they don't start to watch magic creatures from the thin air, they just using something called "imagination".

I tell you that too, just to make you understand that if you want to read this book expecting something in the style of Harry Potter or Narnia, you will get a real disappointment, BUT if you are looking to read an amazing, coming-to-age story, you will read one of the best books in that area, genre and/or topic.

Due to clumsy reasons, this great book has been banned in many libraries. What I can tell you is that the kids here talk and think in a very real and honest way, so I don't think that can be a good reason to ban this book.

This is a truly great novel about growing, about maturing, about the impossibility of controlling life and that you have to treasure each moment that you are living since you never know when something will change forever.

Also, you won't understand the reason for the title of this book until you read it, but please, don't do any research or investigation, since the impact of the story depends of that you don't know anything ahead.

This is a short book, just read it and it will live in your heart forever.
June 15, 2014
Even when I was 12, I thought this was a crap book.

What's with all the hype? This was so fucking boring. I read this in 6th grade, during a time when I was prone to sobbing at anything. We watched Ben Hur in class and I cried like a baby. I don't even remember why.

We read Where the Red Fern Grows aloud in class and I was sobbing in front of everyone. I didn't shed a single fucking tear for this book.
Profile Image for Steven Brown.
Author 5 books200 followers
August 10, 2018
I don't see how a middle grade book can do this to somebody.
Profile Image for D.M. Dutcher .
Author 1 book49 followers
May 1, 2012
I dimly remember reading this as a child. It seems not to have made much impression on me however, and considering I often read books above my age group, it might have been for that reason. I say this because I am not rating it low for traumatizing me as a kid, but because rereading it as an adult makes me annoyed at how a book with so many negative messages could win a Newberry.

Lets run down a few of them.

1. The sheer shallowness of Jesse's sisters as characters. It borders on misogyny, and I don't accuse books of that lightly. The two older sisters are thoughtless and often detestable, including after the big twist. May Belle is portrayed more sympathetically as just being kind of a puppy dog, but is still annoying and is the character used to talk about hell.

2. The weird attitudes on violence. One cringe-worthy passage is when Jesse, grieving over Leslie, slugs May Belle hard in the face because she asked if he saw her laid out. He feels bad about it, but good lord, could you imagine that today?

Another is how the school girl bully is weeping not so much over being abused, and hardcore, but the other kids knowing it and cruelly teasing her about it. And how kids need to defend parents who abuse.

"There was a rule at Lark creek, more important than anything Mr. Turner made up or fussed about. That was the rule that you never nuxed up troubles at home with life at school...It didn't matter if their own fathers were in the state hospital or the federal prison, they hadn't betrayed theirs, and Janice had."

And there's no real reflection on this. It just happens, and is taken for granted, even by the enlightened Leslie who seems more proud that she gave good advice than horrified by how many parents beat their kids.

3. As other reviewers said, this horrible chestnut in so many words:

If you cheat on your girl friend by going on a trip to an art museum with your teacher who you had a crush on, she will be dead and cremated when you come back.

The whole death plot twist has many odd messages. What is she trying to say? That if you try to escape, it's bad? Jesse uses art to escape his life, and it can't be a coincidence she died during his trip to an art museum. She died on the way to her own source of escape, the quiet place where she could believe all the good things about the rural life, and none of the bad.

If she died neutrally, say from a disease, it still would be a tragedy. But the manner of death is too linked to Jesse in a way that blames him for comfort, and that might be part of the trauma many kids feel when they read the book.

4. The death in general.

Reading it now, it's odd that for a book that might help kids deal with loss, how little of it actually is designed to do so. She dies when Jesse is away. She is cremated so he can't see the body. There was no service. Jesse has to make his own closure. It's done very briefly too.

It's odd. There's also the whole "punished for escapism," "she died to give him imagination," "too good to live," and other subtexts. What was striking about rereading it is how brief the death and aftermath is. It fades right into the "building a bridge" chapter, then it ends.

It's weird that a book with so many conflicting messages should be winning the most prestigious award in kids lit. I don't think hard themes should be avoided, but the book really doesn't handle them well. Heck, death is a hard subject for adults to deal with, let alone kids. Extra care should be taken, but if anything Bridge feels more like a realistic, literary take aimed as much for parents as kids.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 28 books107 followers
March 6, 2016
There are only two books that have made me cry. Granted, I was in sixth grade when I read this for the first time. But like most books I review on Goodreads, I sat down to read this again before posting my review. My sentiments about Bridge to Terabithia haven't changed much.

I don't remember a lot from my pre-teen years. Little fragments crop up from time to time when I see an old commercial on Youtube or I play an 8-bit classic on my Wii. This book I remember. And as I re-read it I started recalling the circumstances that surrounded my initial reading of this book. I remember the girl I had a crush on who sat behind me in class. I remember growing my hair out and listening to Iron Maiden, experimenting with image, stripping away those last external indicators of child-like innocence and trying to be more "grown up." Then I remember crying in my closet near the end of this book.

Years later I have a career, a daughter, a wife. I still listen to Iron Maiden, but I don't wear the oversized metal shirts like I used to, and my hair is cut short most of the time. I don't have to try to be an adult anymore. What I was pushing back then I reflect on as an inevitable development now. Now I find myself retracing my steps, trying to go back to that time in my life, but like Rita Dove observes in her poem "Driving Through," it isn't always as easy or clear cut as we hope it to be. I'm a different person now, at least that's what I told myself when I started reading this book again a few years ago. How strange that sometimes drawing a connection between the person we were and the person we become happens inadvertently, at the most unexpected moments, when we spend half of our lives trying so hard to move forward and half of lives trying so hard to go back.

So there I sat, more than a decade later, with the same emotional reaction I had as a child telling me to stop reading, and nostalgia and the comforting memory of childhood ebbing me back towards youth.
Profile Image for Rodrigo Unda.
Author 1 book3,994 followers
January 1, 2022
Si no lloras con este libro, genuinamente pensaré que no tienes sentimientos. Es inevitable no sentirte conmovido por la historia, que aunque tiene un desarrollo muy rápido, se saborea por completo al tener personajes muy bien construidos.

Todo pasa tan rápido y al mismo tiempo lo ves en cámara lenta.

Lee este libro si buscas algo ligero. Genial para quitarte un bloqueo lector 🤩
21 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2008
Bridge to Terabithia is a staple of many middle school literary curriculums; however, it is one of the most challenged books in school systems across the country. Opponents of this book preposterously assert that it has references to witchcraft and Satanism. I read this book in 5th grade and gathered no references to the use of magic at all. The book involves two children having imaginary adventures in the imaginary land of Terabithia. Such imaginary games are common for children. Yet some assert that Katherine Patterson’s writing about such common activities is a reference to witchcraft. The book is an amazing piece of children’s literature and one of the only pieces from fifth and sixth grade a number of my peers remember reading. It stood out to us. We remembered it and used it to become better writers and thinkers. It helped us transition to more complex books. Educators and teachers should advocate strongly for this book to be read in class.
Patterson instills into this book many important thematic elements of a great story in a manner that younger students will be able to identify with some thought on the book. Foreshadowing, character development, symbolism, and a clear connected thread and purpose are present throughout the whole story as Jess makes friends with the new girl Leslie, learns important lessons from her that help him to become more confident, and then is forced to say goodbye when she dies entering their imaginary land of Terabithia.
To an older reader, the foreshadowing of Leslie’s death is a little heavy-handed, but in no way poorly presented to a younger audience. “Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was as delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction and it was blown to bits” (Paterson, 99). When May Belle becomes horrified of Leslie’s independent thoughts on the authenticity of the Bible, she exclaims, “What’s going to happen if you die?” (Paterson 109). Paterson makes the readers contemplate Leslie’s death briefly and insincerely several times before forcing them to do it for real. When she dies, they must revisit those thoughts they’d only touched on. “The Perkins place was one of those ratty old country houses you moved into because you had no decent place to go and moved out as quickly as you could” (Paterson 10). If the reader takes this passage seriously, they must know that the Burkes will leave Jess, in one way or another. After Leslie’s death the Burkes do leave. “No one ever stayed in the old Perkins place” (Paterson 161). As a result of this heavy foreshadowing, the books overall tone adopts one of reflection, as opposed to simple telling, a story that had to be told, that demanded to be told. Patterson’s accomplishment here is powerful to a child’s appreciation of literature and their ability to deceiver more complex literature later.
Another interesting literary event that young readers can benefit from analyzing is Jess’s evolution as a person, especially with regard to Terabithia’s changes.

It was Leslie who had taken him from the cow pasture into Terabithia and turned him into a king. He had thought that was it. Wasn’t king the best you could be? Now it occurred to him that perhaps Terabithia was like a castle where you came to be knighted. After you stayed for a while and grew strong you had to move on. For hadn’t Leslie, even in Terabithia, tried to push back the walls of his mind and make him see beyond to the shining world-huge and terrible and beautiful and very fragile?...Now it was time for him to move out (Paterson 160).

Jess is simply not the same person he was at the beginning of the book and what logically follows is that Terabithia is not the same place to him that it was. Concurrently, he must move out. A heavy handed indication of Jess’s transition occurs with his father near the entrance to Terabithia. His father begins, “‘Hell ain’t it?’ It was the kind of thing Jess could hear his father saying to another man. He found it strangely comforting, and it made him bold.” (Paterson 148). In the beginning, Jess’ father would barely speak a word to him. Jess relationship with his father has changed as well.
On the same note, children can benefit from seeing the method for entering Terabithia changing with Jess and with Terabithia’s significance to Jess. In the beginning, entering Terabithia involves a scary trip swinging across a river on a rope. In the end, Jess builds a bridge to Terabithia, changing one of its key characteristics and symbolizing the increased ease Jess has with accessing what he learned from Terabithia. In the end, Jess seeks to open Terabithia’s lessons to his younger sister, Joyce Ann. “And when he finished, he put flowers in [Joyce Ann’s] hair and led her across the bridge-the great bridge into Terabithia-which might look to someone with no magic in them like a few planks across a nearly dry gully…” Jess leads Joyce Ann into this kingdom of learning and evolution, a confident adolescent, just as the confident Leslie had done for him once. He has learned from Leslie, about himself and his insecurities, and about life, and can share these lessons with Joyce Ann.
Also valuable as classroom discussion is what parallels, if any, Leslie has with Jesus. Certainly a Christ archetype is present in many works and discussion of such can benefit students. As with so many literary elements, it is hard to say whether the author intended this parallel, but that idea is unimportant except to express it to the students. Leslie makes ambiguous comments at the beginning of the book about how she likes and dislikes the country. Jess is talking to her about her old home. “I really miss it.” She replies. “You must hate it here” (Patterson 41) he says. She says she does. “I wanted to come too” (Paterson 42) she says, talking of her parents’ decision to move. Her contradicting sentiments parallel Jesus’ experience in the garden of Gethsemane, where he asks god to save him from his impending crucifixion, but exclaims truly that he is glad to do it if it is God’s will. One could argue that her playing with the boys and running faster than them is analogous to Jesus’ miracles. Her challenging people’s interpretations of the Bible is another possible parallel. Also, Jess describes her arrival as “probably the biggest thing in his life” (Paterson 10). She dies as a result of coming, as a result of ultimately helping Jess transition from an insecure introspective adolescent into a more confident man. This is a weaker thematic element, and perhaps Paterson did not intend it, but its presence is something that may be discussed briefly in the classroom.
Someone unfamiliar with this book may think that these elements are too complex for younger readers; however, Paterson presents them expertly to a younger audience while engaging the students with a character they can relate to, Jess. He is constantly introspective, thinking not only about an issue, but on his thoughts on the issue too. He frequently wonders why he is thinking that way, leading him deeper and deeper into his mind. He has feelings for Ms. Edmund that he does not yet understand as well. The beginning of the book is hard focused on portraying Jess as having external suffering as well “Ever since he’d been in first grade he’d been that “ ‘crazy little kid that draws all the time’” (Paterson 4). The number of sentences used to portray this manner of suffering almost rivals his introspective lamentations, and establishes a character that many confused early adolescents can not help but identify with and cheer on. If this element commands girls’ attentions less, then Leslie’s charisma is more than enough to bridge the gap. The use of swear words helps to prevent children from resenting the book and closing their minds to it simply because children at that age are told not to swear. This book swears? Wow, that must be cool. I want to read on. And they do. And more importantly, they listen to what they are reading.
Bridge to Terabithia is not a book of separate literary elements, but rather elements that play beautifully and deftly together to create a complete literary work, one to help children transition to more complex literature and to make them think of new ideas. It should be staple of every early middle school English education regardless of objections that may be voiced against it. If this book is not on your child’s curriculum, it is worth your time to ask why and challenge such a decision. Afterwards, you and your child should read it together. You’ll both enjoy it.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sue.
2,729 reviews218 followers
April 21, 2020
I read this for Middle Grade March.
I’d never heard of this one before it was recommended to me.
It’s a very sad poignant story. Grief.

It’s magical and mystical in parts.

The ending caught me off guard. Yes, there was tears.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book557 followers
January 4, 2023
It was time for him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength.

Ha, I just finished this book in a puddle, which surprised me, because I have read it before. I read it with my youngest granddaughter, when she was about eight, and I don’t remember if I cried then, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

It is a beautiful, sweet, poignant story. So perfect for a young person , or apparently for an old one. It was on a list of banned books.

“ Bridge To Terabithia has stayed in the top 100 banned/challenged books since it's publication. Like most children book authors whose books have been challenged, Paterson finds it “ironic” that her book has been banned.”

Hey, she isn’t the only one.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,811 reviews12.8k followers
August 31, 2020
Needing a short book before beginning another major reading challenge, I turned to this piece by Katherine Paterson. It’s one I enjoyed in upper elementary, though many of the details have slipped my mind, which makes a re-read all the more justifiable. Jess Aarons is eager to begin the fifth grade. He hopes to finally be able to call himself the fastest boy in school, having risen early to practice all summer long. When a new family moves in next door, Jess is curious to see what to make of them. Having moved from Arlington, Virginia, they are sure to have money and likely the attitude to go with it. When Jess meets Leslie Burke, she is nothing like he expected. A tomboy if ever there was one, Leslie befriends Jess and they are soon inseparable. While Jess must cede his chance to be the fastest in school, he and Leslie soon find new and exciting ways to spend their time. Realising that they enjoy one another’s company and could care less what others feel, they create a world all their own, where they can rule and lock the rest of humanity out. Terabithia is hereby created and the only means by which to access it is a rope tied to a tree. Jess and Leslie spend all their time there, hiding Terabithia from family and friends alike. When Jess is invited to go into Washington one day, he forgets to invite Leslie. Upon his return, he discovers what a truly horrible thing it was not to have reached out. A stunning piece that resonates with the reader and leaves them thinking, while also searching for a ray of hope. Recommended to those who need a little heartfelt emotion in a quick read, as well as those who enjoy young adult fiction with a deeper meaning.

There are times when you need to turn off your brain and choose something a little lighter to pass the time. I usually turn to young adult fiction for that, though I suppose some of the full-length fiction I read could be said to do that as well. This piece may be the former, but light it is not! Katherine Paterson develops an exceptional protagonist in Jess Aarons, who is loosely modelled after her own son. Jess comes from a poor family and has high hopes for his upcoming school year. The reader learns much about his backstory—the only boy, sandwiched between four sisters—and how he longs to have a companion all his own. Throughout the piece, Paterson offers up some wonderful character development as Jess befriends Leslie and things move forward. Emotions develop and turn to a sobering coming of age by the end of this tale. The number of secondary characters in this piece all serve to keep the story on its toes, while not becoming too burdensome. Paterson does a masterful job with Leslie Burke as well, as the young girl complements the protagonist while also shining in her own right. This is a story that is a mix of happiness, sadness, and revelation, allowing the reader of any age to take something away that they will not soon forget. Told in a mere fourteen chapters, Paterson compacts so much into a short book that the reader will surely extrapolate to carve out additional chapters for themselves. What might have continued happening on Terabithia? How could Jess and Leslie have continued to grow closer? What of the constant pains the Aarons family proved to be for Jess when he wanted solitude? Paterson uses a masterful narrative and dialogue to tell this story that will leave the reader wondering why things had to end as they did, but understanding the deeper message as they cross the bridge into Terabithia.

Kudos, Madam Paterson, for such a wonderful book. I think, given a year or so, my son will be ready for this adventure. I will make sure to introduce him to many of your other works as well!

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews37 followers
August 11, 2019
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
Bridge to Terabithia is a work of children's literature about two lonely children who create a magical forest kingdom in their imaginations. It was written by Katherine Paterson and was published in 1977 by Thomas Crowell. In 1978, it won the Newbery Medal. Paterson drew inspiration for the novel from a real event that occurred in August 1974 when her son's friend was struck dead by lightning.
In the novel, Paterson illustrates the life of an artistic young boy named Jess Aarons and the burdens and hardships of his home life, such as his duties on his family's farm and the constant agitations and annoyances of his four sisters. He has straw-colored hair and long legs. Leslie Burke is an intelligent, wealthy girl who has just moved into "the old Perkins place" down the road from him. He is initially cold toward her. After having trained all summer to become his class's fastest runner, he is infuriated when she outruns him in a recess footrace. After further negative experiences with classroom tormentors or rivals, including Gary Fulcher, Jess eagerly anticipates the arrival of music class due to his infatuation for its beautiful young teacher, Miss Edmunds. However, on the day it begins, he discovers a fondness for Leslie, eccentric and ostracized, and they develop a friendship. He marvels at the way she genuinely likes to read and write, not just to impress their teacher, and the way she makes running look beautiful and effortless (not that he would ever actually say anything of the sort). On a sunny day, Jess and Leslie use a rope to swing over a creek, and they decide to design an imaginary sanctuary from the burdens and pains of everyday life. They reign as monarchs, calling their domain Terabithia and constructing a small refuge in which their imaginary escapades take place. At school, Jess and Leslie are challenged by an older bully named Janice Avery, whom they immensely detest. After she steals a package of Twinkies from Jess' younger sister May Belle's lunch, they forge a romantic letter under the disguise of Willard Hughes, the object of Janice's infatuation, setting her up for misunderstanding. The plan is successful, exposing her to public mortification. Later, Leslie encounters her sobbing in the girls' bathroom. ...
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز یازدهم ماه آگوست سال 2006 میلادی
عنوان: پ‍ل‍ی‌ ب‍ه‌س‍وی‌ ت‍راب‍ی‍ت‍ی‍ا (ب‍رن‍ده‌ م‍دال‌ ن‍ی‍وب‍ری‌ از ام‍ری‍ک‍ا؛ در سال 1978 میلادی)؛ ن‍وی‍س‍ن‍ده‌: ک‍ات‍ری‍ن‌ پ‍ات‍رس‍ون‌؛ ت‍ص‍وی‍رگ‍ر: دون‍ا دی‍ام‍ون‍د؛ م‍ت‍رج‍م‌: ن‍س‍ری‍ن‌ وک‍ی‍ل‍ی‌ (وک‍ی‍ل‌)؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌: دس‍ت‍ان‌، 1383؛ در 184 ص، مصور؛ شابک: ایکس - 964764230؛ موضوع: داستانهای نوجوانان از نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20 م
عنوان: پلی به سوی ترابیتیا؛ نویسنده: کاترین پاترسون؛ تصویرگر: دون‍ا دی‍ام‍ون‍د؛ مترجم: سحر بشارتی‌راد؛ تهران: آسو، ‏‫1397؛ در 188 ص؛ شابک: 9786008755425؛
تنها پسر یک خانواده پرشمار «جس»، همیشه تنهاست. بزرگترین آرزویش، برنده شدن در مسابقه ی دویدن، بین کلاس پنجمیهاست. همه ی تابستان دلمشغول تمرینات دو بوده، و برای شکست دادن همکلاسیهایش لحظه شماری میکند. در نخستین روز مدرسه، دختری به نام «لزلی»، که شاگردی تازه است، با جسارت وارد زمین بازی پسرها شده، از همه جلو میزند. با اینحال بین «جس» و «لزلی»، دوستی ناگسستنی برقرار میشود. آن دو با هم «ترابیتیا» را میآفرینند؛ سرزمینی جادویی در جنگل، سرزمینی که هر دو، به عنوان پادشاه و ملکه، در آن حکمرانی میکنند. یکروز در غیاب «جس» رخدادی ترسناک برای «لزلی» رخ میدهد. «جس» در برابر از دست دادن دوستش «لزلی»، واکنشی قهرمانانه و شگفت انگیز ندارد. سوگواری را تاب میآورد، و سختیها را پشت سر میگذارد. در پایان «جس» با این تراژدی کنار میآید، و سرانجام میتواند، پلی به سوی «ترابیتیا» بزند، و خواهر کوچکش را، به عنوان فردی تازه، در فرمانروایی آن سرزمین، شریک میکند. به این ترتیب است که «جس» درمییابد، «لزلی» چه تاثیر شگرفی، در او ایجاد کرده، و چه توانایی و شجاعتی، به او بخشیده است. نویسنده در این داستان، از فاصله ی نوجوانان با دیگر اعضای خانواده، از نقش ورزش و هنر برای جبران تنهایی، از دوستی، و از معجزه ی خیال، برای پاسخگویی به نیاز نوجوانان، میگویند، و به خوانشگر نوجوان خود، شجاعت و توان میبخشد. این کتاب جوایز بسیاری از جمله: مدال نیوبری سال 1978 میلادی را، از آن خود کرده، و ترجمه ی فارسی کتاب نیز، از سوی شورای کتاب کودک، در سال 1384 هجری خورشیدی، به عنوان اثر ویژه، برگزیده شده است. ‬ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Thom.
16 reviews
March 22, 2011
Bridge to Terabithia -

I'm a grown man and I cried the duration of the last fifty pages. I gave this book five stars, here's why:

It is absolutely incredible that a writer can invent a character, and bring him to life so convincingly that we find some of our deepest emotions aroused when we read black words on a white page. I was amazed at how deeply I felt towards some the characters in this book...fictional characters!

Character development is absolutely masterful in Bridge to Terabithia. It is easy to identify with both Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke. They not only forge a friendship with each other that is profound, uplifting, and edifying - but they also forge that same friendship with you. I particularly enjoyed Jess's character - full of childlike reason, error, and love. I sometimes felt like he was my own child. It feels good to read him - especially within the last fifty pages.

The majority of the plot is gentle and accents the beauty of childhood, often embellishing it with innocent humor. While nothing is unimportant or uninteresting, the author very skillfully tells the story in such a way that it feels like "everyday life". Any suspense is usually trivial and very scarce, but the story remains very compelling and thoroughly enjoyable to read. (I have to say that a good writer should be able to tell a gripping story without the sometimes garish and seemingly mandatory thrill of suspense found so much in fiction.)

It seems heartless and depraved to say that I'm glad Kathrine Paterson and her son David were able to experience what they did (I can't think of a better way to say that without giving anything away.) - but I think Paterson gained some beautiful insight through that experience that she has used to help others, especially children - rather artfully I might add.

I need to mention one thing I wasn't particularly fond of. Janice Avery (a minor character) reveals to her friends that her father beats her - "the kind of beating they send you to jail for" says Leslie. And at the advice of Leslie, Janice decides to pretend that her father is innocent, and that her friends are just spreading "rumors" all over school. The author says something like "kids shouldn't ever betray their parents, and that's just what Janice Avery had done." See the contradiction? "Honour thy father and thy mother" - "Domestic abuse is wrong, no matter what". I don't think this kind of conflict belongs in a children's novel, even as a very minor vehicle for plot development. I wish the author had omitted that, or at least found an acceptable solution.

Notwithstanding its faults, I love this book. Read it, it's good for you.
Profile Image for Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile).
848 reviews123 followers
February 10, 2020
”You never know ahead of time what something’s really going to be like”

(Cropped from the paperback cover illustration: Puffin Books, 2015)

Yes, I cried so much I couldn’t properly see to finish the last chapter.

I clearly remember watching the movie back in 2007, the rich imagined world and that adventure Leslie and Jess created for themselves. But for the life of me I could not remember how it all ended. So I grabbed the book of my shelf and decided to find out.
Now I know that I mentally blocked-out the end; because just thinking of Jess’ reaction makes tears well-up in my eyes.

I love how this book show the readers just how to use their imaginations - How to build your own world and live your own adventure. Even as an adult I’m tempted kick reality out and go live in my own world.
I like that Katherine starts of this book kind of slow and boring and then picks up the pace and voyage as the fantasy world grow.

The end just striped me raw. The way Jess’ feelings are expressed and how he deals just ripped out my heart.
Profile Image for Carmine.
593 reviews59 followers
May 28, 2023
Ti ricordi di quando eravamo re e regina del regno oltre il fiume?

"Terabithia era il loro segreto, ed era un bene che fosse tale. Come avrebbe potuto, Jess, spiegarlo a un'altra persona?"

Cos'è Terabithia? Perché i bambini la cercano costantemente nei loro ardenti sogni d'avventura?
Forse un luogo nella quale paura e rabbia non hanno spazio, ove si è eroi per sempre e la solitudine diventa una sbiadita ombra di ricordi oramai lontani.
E quando la realtà bussa alle porte del nostro rifugio per presentare il conto dei tanti miracoli concessi, si giunge alla conclusione che Terabithia non morirà.
Cresce chi non dimenticherà Terabithia nel momento in cui le tenebre ne abbracceranno ogni anfratto.

(A distanza di anni, resta il dolce ricordo di un'opera di formazione dall'architettura semplice, senza nessuna pretesa al di fuori del conforto di fronte all'inevitabile. Sullo stesso tema - l'accettazione di un lutto - suggerisco il meraviglioso Sette minuti dopo la mezzanotte, scritto da Patrick Ness.)
Profile Image for Rob.
485 reviews20 followers
December 31, 2008
I just re-read the book before watching the movie. I'm sure I read it as a kid, but I'm reviewing this as an adult.

This book is sad. It's like My Girl. The characters are innocent and fun, and the world they create with their minds is playful. However, tragedies of this kind are not my thing. It seems that the point of the book is the tragedy, to have a boy's friend die. I'd rather spend my time reading something a little more up-beat.

I've said this before, I don't at all mind characters dying, and I love certain tragedies. This one is just a little too simple to really fire me up, and it just succeeds in making me depressed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,041 followers
February 12, 2017
While I've seen this book on various lists for years, I never got around to reading it & had no clue what it was about. I was in the Army when it was published. I know one or two of my kids read it, but it was one of the rare books that I didn't at least skim. (I think my wife read it, instead.) When I first started listening to it this morning, I didn't really get into it at first. It's well written, but wasn't really my thing. Still, it was short & I've been meaning to get around to it, so I kept on. I'm so glad I did.

It didn't really grab me until the last quarter & then it wouldn't let go. The end was incredible & really hit me right where I live. (If you don't know how the book ends, don't read this spoiler.) Her characterization was wonderful & the ending is haunting.

My edition had an interview with Paterson & her son, David, who apparently illustrated some editions & had dealt with making this into a movie. It was well worth listening to. Paterson said The Yearling was one of her inspirations which isn't surprising.

Apparently this book is hotly debated & often banned by schools because, like the The Yearling, it deals with death. Some parents don't think their kids should even read about it; a damn fool idea, IMO. As David, I, & many others found out early, it happens. While there is no preparation for it, knowing that others have survived it does help, even fictional people. David also mentions in the interview that at the end of the first screening of the movie, the kids came out happy with the ending while it was the adults that only thought of the sad part. That's part of being a kid, I think. I sure thought the very end was happy, too.

Anyway, I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to reading this & I highly recommend it for all ages.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,673 followers
February 19, 2020
A lovely book that has stood the test of time.

2020: Read this aloud to the kids as it's on the Battle of the Books list this year for my daughter. I had forgotten how much is covered in such a slim book, yet how fast it goes. Also the casual cruelty of both Jess's family and bullies at school, not to mention how Leslie and Jess retaliate. Interesting.
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 4 books272 followers
November 20, 2018
Por años busqué este libro, la película me encanta, ni siquiera recuerdo cuantas veces la he visto pero si la encuentro seguro que la veo de nuevo.
Esperaba más de la historia, para ser sincera y la forma en que está escrito no fue como pensé, la narrativa es buena pero no me agradó tanto como otros libros infantiles.
La historia es linda, eso no puedo negarlo, estuvo más o menos.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
February 4, 2008
When I read this in 5th grade, I really liked it for the first 75% of the story. Jess was kind of a moron, but Leslie was really cool, and I found myself wishing I had a friend who could make up great stories and imaginary worlds in our secret fort in the woods.

And then Katherine Paterson decided to smack me upside the head with the cold, dead fish of Reality. (I'm not sure how that metaphor was supposed to work, but I'm going with it because that's honestly how it felt)

Leslie DIED?!?!

I can still remember getting to that part of the book and just sitting there saying, "Wait, what? WHAT?" I refused to believe that anyone could DIE just by falling into a creek, and still think it's a really stupid way to kill off a character.

Read for: 5th grade English
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews210 followers
May 29, 2015
I remember reading this when I was very young (thanks, Julie!). I couldn't remember particulars of the story, but the impact of the book never left me.

Currently in a re-reading phase, I was curious to see how I would feel about the book now.....more than 30 years after it was first published. To say that "it has stood the test of time" would be a disservice. And the impact? To borrow from @ericsmithrocks: "ugly crying".

Knowledge, in this case, was not power. It still felt like a punch-to-the-gut-from-out-of-nowhere. Sadness seeped into my soul and I sobbed.

Well done, Ms. Paterson. Well. Done.
Profile Image for Heba.
1,087 reviews2,125 followers
April 25, 2023
ما رأيك في بلدة سرية كبيرة ، نُطلق عليها " تيرابيثيا" نكون حاكميها أنا وأنت....؟!..
مملكة حصينة ساحرة شيدها خيال " ليزلي " الجامح" لتصبح هى الحاكمة وصديقها " جيس" الحاكم...
لقد كانت فتاة في سن العاشرة مُتقدة الذكاء...رائعة...
كانت تتقن رياضة الركض برشاقة وجدارة وتقفز فوق أسوار الخوف بشجاعة بالغة....
برفقتها استطاع " جيس" أن يتعلم ماذا يعني أن تُصارع مخاوفك الصغيرة التي تعتريك...لن تتخطاها تماماً ولكن إياك أن تدعها تُحطمك..
انفطر قلبي لموتها وثقل تلك المأساة المروعة على قلب الصبي الصغير ولكن ها هو يبني جسراً يعبر فيه ذاك العالم المُبهر الذي كان في الخيال إلى الضفة الأخرى.....أتمنى لك حظاً موفقاً يا عزيزي....
Profile Image for Denise.
217 reviews7 followers
April 24, 2008
Lines I loved:

Lark Creek was the backwash of fashion. It took them a long time to accept there what everyone could see by their TV’s was OK anywhere else.

It made Jess ache inside to watch his dad grab the little ones to his shoulder, or lean down and hug them. It seemed to him that he had been thought too big for that since the day he was born.

It was the beginning of a new season in his life, and he chose deliberately to make it so.

Gary Fulcher could go to you-know-where and warm his toes.

Even a prince may be a fool.

All the way home in the sunshine Miss Edmunds told funny stories about going to college one year in Japan, where all the boys had been shorter than she, and she hadn’t known how to use the toilets.

They weren’t crying for Leslie. They were crying for themselves. Just themselves.

Jess knew; but still, but still, at the bus stop he looked up, half expecting to see her running up across the field.

He could hear the sounds of the whispers but not the words. Not that he wanted to hear the words.

It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength.
Profile Image for Sarah.
367 reviews93 followers
April 7, 2023
I don't remember how old of a child I was when I read this book, but I do remember it was the first story to break my heart.

I vividly remember closing the novel after the final page and putting it back on the shelf, where it stayed for many, many years.

Sure, it was the pain. But more than that, I didn't want to break the spell: the magical green and golden glow that always filled my mind's eye at the thought of Terabithia.

Just this week, I decided to read it again.

And, man. It's beautiful as ever. I "read" this as an audiobook driving home from work each night, and I cried more than I'd like to admit.

So, so good.
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