In Search of the Novel: Ten Novels
Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson
After running in the fields around his farmhouse all summer, Jess Aarons hopes to be the fastest boy in his fifth-grade class. Then a new classmatea girl named Leslie Burkemoves into the next farmhouse, and she is faster. She turns out to be the fastest in the class. After Jess recovers from the surprise and humiliation, he discovers that he might like Leslie as a friend. The
two of them create an imaginary and secret kingdom across a gully in the nearby woods, which they name Terabithia. The children can travel to this secret place only by swinging across the gully on a rope. Their time together is rich in imaginative play and in real companionship, as they rule Terabithia as king and queen, defeat giants, and share stories. Then tragedy comes, and one child is
Bridge to Terabithia is unusually believable on many countsits realistic characters, the real friendship between a boy and a girl, and the reality of tragedy. Even Jesse and Leslies fantasy kingdom of Terabithia obtains a reality; it is a place where children can be friends. Mrs. Hildagarde Gray writes that Bridge to Terabithia is a beautiful love story, “encompassing all the tones and nuances of deep feeling, all the entanglement lovers feel with each others sensitivities and interpretations of life [but it] is not a love story of physical encounter but a fusion of souls and minds. To shy Jess, Leslies philosophy opens new doors. Her sudden death threatens to crush him before he has learned to live her teachings. Her strength, however, continues to move within him, permitting him to move toward maturity and carry the land of Terabithia in his heart” (Best Sellers, Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, February 1978).
- Katherine Paterson Web Site
The official Katherine Paterson Web site.
- Bridge to Terabithia Student Study Guide
Offers comprehension questions, a vocabulary list, and an enrichment activity for each chapter.
- Exploring Friendship with Bridge to Terabithia
Lesson plans for each chapter based on the theme of friendship, plus links to additional resources and notes on relevant standards.