Module 4: Bridge to Terabithia

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Book Review:

Jess is a soon-to-be 5th grader growing up in rural Virginia outside Washington, DC. His main concerns over his summer vacation are training to become the fastest runner so that he could gain fame amongst the 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Things are shaping up nicely, but his plans change when Leslie moves to town. With her short hair, jean shorts, and unbeatable running speed, Leslie is unlike any other girl Jess has ever met–which is saying something as he has four sisters. While their friendship is bumpy at first, it soon blossoms as they create Terabithia together, a magical land that Jess and Leslie rule. Through their time spent in Terabithia Jess and Leslie find what it is like to have true friendship.

APA Reference of Book:

Paterson, K. (1977). Bridge to Terabithia. New York, NY: Crowell.

Impression:

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson was a great read. As someone who grew up in a very small town I could certainly relate to a lot of the social interactions between students and families in the book. I tried my best to forget what I already knew about the story from the movie and read it with fresh eyes. This was not an easy feat, but I managed to succeed. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the story. I can also relate to what it’s like to suffer the loss of a friend at such a young age, and I think that death is something that should be addressed with younger readers. As such, this book does it wonderfully. As much as I would love to spare children the lessons of this book, I lost my first friend at the age of 9 and know that it doesn’t matter if the subject is painful, death is an important and very real part of life. This book handles death realistically and very beautifully, and I think it is a read that both parents and kids will like.

Professional Review:

“Paterson’s Newbery-winning novel becomes an entertaining and dramatic audiobook via Leonard’s accomplished reading. Jess Aarons is eager to start fifth grade. He’s been practicing his sprints all summer, determined to become the fastest runner at school. All seems to be on track, until the new girl in class (who also happens to be Jess’s new next-door neighbor), Leslie Burke, leaves all the boys in the dust, including Jess. After this rather frustrating introduction, Jess and Leslie soon become inseparable. Together, they create an imaginary, secret kingdom in the woods called Terabithia that can be reached only by swinging across a creek bed on a rope. But one morning a tragic accident befalls Leslie as she ventures alone to Terabithia, and Jess’s life is changed forever. Leonard deftly interprets the strands of humor, realism and heart-wrenching emotion woven into Paterson’s fine tale. His careful and authentic handling of Jess’s anger and grief in the aftermath of the accident is sure to touch listeners. Contemporary instrumental interludes featuring guitar, piano and drums signal the beginning and end of each tape side. Ages 9-up. (Jan.)”

(2001, January 1). [Review of the book Bridge to Terabithia, by K. Paterson]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved: from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-694-52452-5

Library Uses

Throughout the book Jess and Leslie make several references to taking care of even the smallest predator, and Jess makes it a priority to help those that are upset, even if they happen to be the school bully. With that in mind, I would want to share this book with a reading group at the library and then have the children “kind bomb” the library. Kind bombing is where you have the kids write kind notes to strangers and hide them in library books for the next person who checks it out to find. The idea would be to make someone’s day a little bit brighter through kind notes, because as the book illustrates, people often keep bad things a secret.

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