Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the class. He's been practising all summer and he's sure he's going to win. But when a girl named Leslie Burke moves into the neighbouring farm his life changes forever. Not only does Leslie not look or act like any of the girls in school, she also turns out to be the fastest runner in the year. After getting over the humiliation of being beaten by a girl, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay - she's clever and funny and not a bit soppy. It is Leslie who invents Terabithia, the secret country on an island across the creek. Here Jess could forget his large, quarrelsome family, his father who thought it was ummanly to love drawing, and his little sister May Belle, who was always tagging after him. Here he could be strong and unafraid. The only way to reach Terabithia is by rope-swing where Jess and Leslie become King and Queen, defeating giants, sharing stories and dreams, and plotting against their enemies. They are invincible - until tragedy strikes.
It is more dreadful than anything Jess had ever dreamed of, but as he struggles to cope with his grief and anger, he finds that his family value him more than he'd thought and that, still King, he could even save Terabithia for the future.
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(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Paterson, who has already earned regard with her historical fiction set in Japan, proves to be just as eloquent and assured when dealing with contemporary American children - and Americans of very different backgrounds at that. Jess, from an uneducated family in rural Virginia, has been practicing all summer to become the fastest runner at school - a reputation more desirable than his present image as "that crazy little kid who draws all the time." But Jess is beaten in the first race of the fifth-grade year by a newcomer - who is also the first girl ever to invade the boys' part of the playground. Soon Jess and Leslie, whose parents have moved from the suburbs because they're "reassessing their value structure," become close friends. On her lead they create Terabithia, a secret magic kingdom in the woods, and there in the castle stronghold she tells him wonderful stories. . . about a gloomy prince of Denmark, or a crazy sea captain bent on killing a whale. She lends him her Narnia books and lectures him on endangered predators. . . but he teaches her compassion for a mean older girl at school. Indeed Leslie has brought enchantment into his life. Then one morning, with the creek they must swing over to reach Terabithia dangerously swollen by rain, and Jess torn between his fear of the maneuver and his reluctance to admit it, he is saved by an invitation to visit the National Gallery with his lovely music teacher. The day is perfect - but while he is gone Leslie is killed, swinging into Terabithla on their old frayed rope. Jess' feelings range from numb denial to rage to guilt to desolation (at one point the thought occurs that "I am now the fastest runner in the fifth grade") - typical grief reactions, but newly wrenching as Jess is no representative bibliotherapeutic model. By the end, he is ready to think about giving back to the world something of what he had received from Leslie. You'll remember her too. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Katherine Paterson
Katherine Paterson was born in China in 1932 - she was the middle of five children. Her parents were missionaries and during her childhood the family travelled extensively. After graduating she was a teacher in Virginia and later she travelled to Japan where she lived for four years. She now lives in Vermont, USA and loves to teach, read and cook. Katherine Paterson is twice winner of the Newbery Medal: in 1978 for BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and in 1981 for JACOB HAVE I LOVED.