Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson, illus. by Donna Diamond
Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest runner in fifth grade at Lark Creek Elementary. So every morning, all summer long, he gets up extra early to work at it, careful not to wake Mama or his four sisters, two on each side of him, agewise (his dad has usually already left for work). On the first day of school, however, a new girl shows up who outruns even the boys: Leslie Burke. At first, Jess is mad. But then he realizes that he and Leslie have a lot to offer each other. Deep in the woods, they create a magical kingdom across the creek called Terabithia, which can only be reached by a rope swing. One day, tragedy strikes, and Jess must find a way to keep Leslie with him, even though they will never be together again. This bittersweet story shows how joy and pain are inextricably linked, and that no matter how difficult it may seem to go on without a loved one, there is always a way to honor their memory and the gifts they’ve left behind.
Here Katherine Paterson and her longtime editor, Virginia Buckley, talk about the process of working on Bridge to Terabithia: