Hi! Welcome to this week’s Newbery Pie. We’re be discussing Bridge to Terabithia today. We’ll start with Sara’s Review.
My Newbery obsession began back in Fall of 2001 during my Materials for Children class in Library School. When I got pregnant with my daughter in 2002, I bought that year’s Newbery winning book, Linda Sue Park’sA Single Shard and read it aloud to her as a newborn. She turned 13 about week ago and I finally read the Newbery winning book from the year of my birth, Katherine Paterson’s A Bridge to Terabithia. Amazingly, the only things I have heard about this book before now is that a girl and boy are friends and they have an imaginary kingdom.
Jess is ready to start school as the fastest boy in 5th grade. He starts his heat in recess, and pulls in the lead, but is at the end is beaten…by a girl, the new girl, Leslie Burke. He is a sore loser at first, but eventually they become friends. They hang out at school and on the bus, taking on 7th grade bully, Janice Avery. At home, they travel across the creek by a rope swing to a magical land called Terabithia, where they are King and Queen.
Then comes the moment there I could no longer breathe. Jess is invited by Ms. Edmonds to a museum and purposely does not invite Leslie. I must say, as a public school teacher, I had to majorly suspend my disbelief that she would call up a child and take him somewhere without speaking to the parents and guaranteeing permission, even in the late seventies. It definitely would never have happened now as it did in the theatrical version set in the present. When Jess returns home, he finds out that his parents have assumed that is dead because Leslie drowned in the creek after the rope swing breaks. Jess world is shattered, as was mine. I cried, especially as a mother of three elementary-aged girls. The fact that Leslie could transform from a child going to school and living a normal life one day and to a cold, lifeless corpse the next was heart shattering. This part of the text in particular got to me: “Cremated. Something clicked inside Jess’s head. That meant Leslie was gone. Turned to ashes. He would never see her again. Not even dead. Never. How could they? Leslie belong to him. More to him than anyone in the world.”
I joked with Benji after Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH that I was going to violate his rating system. Well, I am doing it this time because this one has bumped Mrs. Frisby to my #2 in terms of favorite Newbery winners. I give Bridge to Terabithia 6 Newbery Pies.
This week, I find myself agreeing with Sara wholeheartedly. This is definitely my favorite up to this point, and it my be my favorite of them all, (Charlotte’s Web is my favorite book, but is it considered Newbery canon being only an honor?) It’s definitely a close race between Ivan and Terabithia.
I’ve read this one several times, and I thought I could make it through this time without crying like a baby, and I ALMOST made it. Not quite though. I got through all of the really sad parts with dry cheeks. I almost cried when Jess hurls the paints and stuff that Leslie gave him into the creek, but I held it in, but then on the very last page, where Jess is taking his sister to Terabithia for the first time, I lost it. I just love that part.
That’s kind of what being a children’s librarian is to me, or at least, that’s the part of it that I love: introducing kids to magical places for the first time, and getting to see the looks on their faces as they each fall in love with their own Terabithia.
I’ll give it six pies too, just because I can’t let Sara outdo me. (How high do our pies even go?