Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bridge to Terabithia

Paterson, K. (1977). Bridge to terabithia. New York: Scholastic.
This book is on the 100 Most Challenged list.

Exposition: Jesse is an artistic young boy who doesn't quite fit in at school or even at home.  He has four sisters and a dad who is always working.  He loves to draw, but is made fun of by classmates or discouraged from doing it by his father. His whole goal for his 5th grade year is to be the fastest runner.  Then he meets Leslie, a new girl who moves nearby.
Conflict: Jesse struggles with his feelings for Leslie.  He can tell she wants to be friends, but he doesn't have the courage to be friends with her because she is different.  He is trying to fit in.  They end up racing (while Jesse is trying to win the title of "Fastest Runner" and Leslie beats him.  The only saving grace was that she beat everyone!
Rising Action: During music class one day ( Jesse's favorite class) he decides he will be friends with Leslie.  They begin spending a lot of time together.  They create their own kingdom called Terabithia, which they are the rulers.  Here Jesse, with Leslie help, becomes stronger and more self-confident.  Leslie and her family introduce Jesse to literature and things that he has not experienced before.  He still lacks courage though, which bothers him.
Climax: One rainy day, Miss Edmunds, the music teacher, calls to invite Jesse to go with her to Washington to an art gallery and the Smithsonian.  Jesse has a huge crush on her and is thrilled to go.  He tells his half asleep mom where he is going and jumps in the car with Miss Edmunds.  Halfway there he thinks that he should have asked if Leslie could have come too.  It had been raining a lot, and he had dreaded telling Leslie that he didn't want to try to cross the creek to get to Terabithia.  Jesse had a wonderful day with Miss Edmunds, a day he will never forget.
Falling Action:  When Jesse gets home, he is shocked to learn that Leslie had attempted to cross the swollen creek to get to Terabithia.  The rope had snapped and she had drowned in the creek.  Jesse is stunned and struggles to come to terms with this.
Resolution:  Jesse realizes that he must use the gifts that Leslie had given him, her strength and vision, and begin standing up to his fears. 

Paterson does a wonderful job using figurative language to paint pictures for the reader.  On the very first page, the author writes, "he would be hot as popping grease" and "his feet were by now as tough as his worn-out sneakers" to help the reader create visuals of the story.  The dialogue between the two main characters also helps the reader better understand the story.  The dialogue is natural and adds to the enjoyment of the book.

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