Bridge to Terabithia
Reading Level: 9 - 12
The story starts out simply enough: Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the
fifth grade--he wants it so bad he can taste it. He's been practicing all summer,
running in the fields around his farmhouse until he collapses in a sweat. Then a
tomboy named Leslie Burke moves into the farmhouse next door and changes his life
forever. Not only does Leslie not look or act like any girls Jess knows, but she
also turns out to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. After getting over
the shock and humiliation of being beaten by a girl, Jess begins to think Leslie
might be okay.
Despite their superficial differences, it's clear that Jess and Leslie are soul mates.
The two create a secret kingdom in the woods named Terabithia, where the only way to
get into the castle is by swinging out over a gully on an enchanted rope. Here they
reign as king and queen, fighting off imaginary giants and the walking dead, sharing
stories and dreams, and plotting against the schoolmates who tease them. Jess and
Leslie find solace in the sanctuary of Terabithia until a tragedy strikes and the
two are separated forever. In a style that is both plain and powerful, Katherine
Paterson's characters will stir your heart and put a lump in your throat.
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