Friday, July 6, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson

One moment between the covers of Bridge to Terabithia reveals why Katherine Paterson’s walls are filled with awards. Not only did this volume win the coveted Newberry Medal but many other awards as well. As a matter of fact Paterson’s writing has won literary awards time and time again. I first encountered Paterson and Bridge as an education student earning teacher certification. I was taking the class we lovingly called “Kiddie Lit.” I re-read it because a film-maker decided to adapt the story for the screen and the result has been released on video. I’m hoping to view the movie soon, and at the same time hoping not to be overly judgmental toward what the previews promise to be completely different from the book.

Why is it a bad thing for the movie to depart from the book? Because the book is such a great story about childhood, having little or nothing to do with fantasy, that’s why. Bridge to Terabithia is the story of Jesse and Leslie, two fifth-graders who become friends and whose friendship is the occasion for creating a new land where Jess is king and Leslie is queen.

Paterson deals with a variety of issues that budding adolescents deal with: new relationships, school bullies, religion, and others. She makes the most exquisite use of foreshadow that I have read in years. The tragedy that is the premise for the book (the building of a bridge to the fantastical land of Terabithia) is foreshadowed from the opening scenes of the book to the Easter service where Jesse is bored and Leslie fascinated.

This book is great writing on a number of levels. The children are believable as children, the settings are real. Bridge to Terabithia has it all—great characters, great stories, great scenes, great dialog, and it is an award winner. Read it before seeing the movie, read it instead of seeing the movie, read it for the first time, read it again for the first time, just read it.

—Benjamin Potter, July 6, 2007


alisonwonderland said...

i'm planning to re-read this book sometime in the next few months. i remember loving it as a child - and i'm looking forward to seeing what i think as an adult. and then, once i've read it again, i'll watch the movie.

thanks for the great review!

Benjie said...


You'll love it. The book had a whole lot more meaning for me now than even it did in college (of course, then I was reading because I was told to read).

Literary Feline said...

I will be reading this book before the year is out for the first time. Part of my motivation is that I want to see the movie, but would prefer to read the book first since I have heard so many good thigs about it.

Great review, by the way!

Framed said...

I have this book on my list to read. Thanks for the review.

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