Age: Elementary - Middle Grade
Interest: Banned Reads/ Kids Books/200 in 2011
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. (Summary from goodreads.com)
I participate in another blog on wordpress called The Banned Reads Project. My friends and I started it in October 2010 near book banning week. I had done a presentation in speech class about book banning which sparked the blog idea which my 2 wonderful best friends agreed to be apart of. (And I must say, they do much better at updating the site than I ever do.) Basically we all read one book a month which has been banned at one time or another for whatever reason. We then do a post discussing the ban and why we disagree with it. We try to keep our opinions respectful, but truthful. Drop on by to look, comment or even participate in our challenge. Now, onto the review.
I read this book as an elementary student (4th grade). Picking it up this week, I didn't really remember anything aside from Leslie. It was interesting to look back on a book I hadn't read in so long. I appreciate the book much more now than I probably ever could as a child. I am not advocating it as the next great book of the age, but it is much deeper than most people give it credit for.
*SPOILER PARAGRAPH* Younger books get the short end of the stick simply for the fact they're written for children. It appears as though people believe there always has to be happy endings, constant rainbows sunshine and text speak for children to be entertained. Such frilly things as these can not possibly be included in the esteemed literature of adults. Bridge to Terabithia is "shocking" to many people because a child, a little girl no less, dies. In the blink of an eye, doing something risky, Leslie is gone from Jess' life. Somehow incidents like this aren't supposed to touch or be apart of children's lives. The fact of the matter is, it does happen and at the worst possible time. So why not have a book for children which, at least a little bit, touches on the subject of death. They might never be thankful for having to read about it, but they'll be more prepared for when or if it happens to someone they care about. I admire and appreciate Paterson for trusting her audience to be mature enough to handle it.
I loved Jess and Leslie's relationship. There's something so honest about their friendship. They both needed someone, to sort of save them. Jess wanted an escape from his boring, hardworking life and Leslie wanted a friend. Everything was so easy and simple with them, just a normal kid's friendship. It makes me almost miss the ease of having such an uncomplicated and open relationship. (I'm too young to miss my childhood, but I'm not old enough to have forgotten secret hide-outs, pinky promises and make-believe games.)
In the book it seemed liked Leslie and Jess were the only people in the world. I mean there were side characters like parents, siblings, teachers and other students but they didn't really enter into the story for me. There was only Jess and Leslie and their bond, everything else was just temporary.
I admit a special fondness for Leslie's mother Judy. I love authors and all of their habits, even the crazy ones. (Though I could probably never actually live with one.) There's one scene where Judy is writing and talking with Leslie at the same time. She talks like a robot, gives least-syllable-possible answers, exclaims "oh" and promptly forgets the rest of the world. It was so like me when I do any type of writing that it just cracked me up.
There's probably mush more I could say about this novel, but I can't really think of more to say. It is a wonderful book which people of any age should read. Perhaps adults especially should crack it open or those who have read it but forgotten it. I'm glad the book is still, for the most part, still in schools and being read. I hope many more children have adventures in Terabithia for years and years to come.
Teaser Lines: "You have to believe it and you hate it. I don't have to and I think it's beautiful."