Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson

While I was reading tonight’s book, my son mentioned this was one he was required to read in middle school.  The story of Jess Aarons and his new neighbor friend, Leslie Burke, is captured in Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia.  Jess is one of five children (he is the only boy in the family) and is pushed hard by his parents who struggle financially after his father loses his job.  The book is set in the farmlands outside of DC in a very rural & poor area.  Jess is on summer vacation and wants to be the fastest boy in school when he returns for fifth grade.  During one of his early morning practices, he meets a new neighbor, who looks like a boy – but isn’t. Leslie Burke, a tomboyish girl, ends up being the fastest student in school at the first day’s race during lunch period.  Jess and Leslie begin to build a bond of friendship quickly.  Leslie and her family have moved to the rural area to leave the hustle and bustle of the city.  The Burke’s are well-off, educated people, and Leslie serves as a motivator and educator for Jess, showing him anything is possible.  Their friendship includes dreaming and building a hide-away in the woods called “Terabithia,” a place where they pretend they are the royalty of the land.  For their first Christmas as friends, they exchange gifts. Jess giving Leslie a puppy, and Leslie giving Jess a paint set so Jess can hone his skills as an artist.  What happens as the year concludes is (***spoiler alert*** - if you haven’t read it, stop reading!)…the climax of all climaxes…Jess is invited to attend an art gallery with the art teacher who sees Jess’ real abilities as an artist.  When he comes back from the greatest day of his life to his family, all home, gathered together – which is odd since it is a work day. And that’s when we learn of an accident involving Leslie.  This is a heartwarming story of young friendship, coming of age, and facing the realities of life…it is never fair!  Every child should read this book…in fact, adults would benefit as well.  It teaches you to hold on to each friendship tightly as they can disappear in an instant…

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