BBW Day 4: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

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Friday – Contest to win The Chocolate War
Saturday – The Giver by Lois Lowry
Sunday – Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Monday – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Tuesday – Today’s review of Bridge to Terabithia

When I found out today’s book was on the banned/challenged lists? I stared at my computer screen in disbelief. Bridge to Terabithia is seriously one of the least controversial books I can think of; apparently some people don’t agree with me.

Bridge to Terabithia Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
ISBN – 13: 978-0-064-40184-5
Published: 1977
My edition: published in 1987, 128 pages long, HarperCollins Publishers

Two lives are bridged – and nothing will be the same.
Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastes runner in the fifth grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new kid, a new girl, boldly crosses over to the boys’ side of the playground and outruns everyone.
That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. It doesn’t matter to Jess that Leslie dresses funny, or that her family has a lot of money – but no TV. Leslie has imagination. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

 

REASONS FOR CHALLENGES/BANNING

Bridge to Terabithia has made the Top 10 Challenged Books in 2002 (#8) and 2003 (#10). The book has not been on the list since at least 2004. Katherine Paterson has been on the Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century in 2003. Bridge to Terabithia came in at number 8 on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990-1999.

Most common reasons that were noted in suggestions for banning were: occult/Satanism, offensive language, and violence.

 

REVIEW…beware of possible spoilers

No lie, I have read Bridge to Terabithia at least once every year since I was first given it, around 1994. I don’t think I will be able to accurately explain the reasons I love this books so much, because how can you accurately articulate feelings with just mere words? During my childhood I lived on an acre and a half property that was surrounded by woods on three sides. My brother and I spent the majority of our time outside, playing in the woods and using our imagination to play games and make up worlds and stories. I think Bridge to Terabithia appealed to me so much at the beginning because Jess and Leslie were involved in acivities I myself was. Now, the book still appeals to me because reading it brings back found memories.

The main character of the book is Jess, the only boy of five children, and the middle child – he has two older sisters and two younger sisters. The only thing that Jess feels he has that he can really make his own is his running. But Leslie shows up and ruins that. What starts off as animosity quickly turns to friendship, and Leslie introduces Jess to so many new ideas and possibilities. Katherine Paterson’s characters are memorable, 3-dimensional and realistic – they behave like children, they react like children. The plot is wonderful and the twist at the end? Had me in tears. Bridge to Terabithia is the first book I ever cried over. I have no idea where people got the idea that the book promotes the occult/Satanism, unless they don’t like that the children use their imaginations. As for violence and language? I can’t even think of any particular instances – and this is a book I’ve read a lot. Maybe Jess or one of his older sisters (or a kid at school) says damn or hell once, but I can’t think of when.

Now that I’m older, I can appreciate Katherine Paterson’s writing style. Her writing is fluid, discriptive and engaging. She draws you in to Jess’ and Leslie’s world easily. Even just reading the teaser at the front of the book fills me with a sense of calmness and joy. What do you make of it?

       Jess and Leslie turned and ran up over the empty field behind the old Perkins place and down to the dry creek bed that separated the farmland from the woods. There was an old crab apple tree there, just at the bank of the creek bed, from which someone long forgotten had hung a rope.
       They took turns swinging across the gully on the rope. It was a glorious autumn day, and if you looked up as you swung, it gave you the feeling of floating. Jess leaned back and drank in the rich, clear color of the sky. He was drifting, drifting like a fat white lazy cloud across the blue.
       “Do you know what we need?” Leslie called to him. Intoxicated as he was with the heavens, he couldn’t imagine needing anything on earth.
       “We need a place,” she said, “just for us. It would be so secret that we would never tell anyone in the whole world about it.” Jess came swinging back and dragged his feet to stop. She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. “It might be a whole secret county,” she continued, “and you and I would be the rulers of it.”
– © Katherine Paterson, 1977

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4 thoughts on “BBW Day 4: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

  1. I watched the movie sometime back and I enjoyed it very much. Though I haven’t read the book, I cannot believe this book is banned! What Satanism does it promote? It doesn’t have any real magical world, only that created by the children’s imagination. Are they going to ban a child’d right to play with toys next? And I thought the book dealt with a very important idea: how a child deals with the loss of a close friend.

  2. For the people that challenge the book on religious suggestions, the only scenes I can think of that they’re using as basis are the scenes where Leslie talks about how she had never been to church and the discussion she and Jess have, and where Jess and his dad talk about if God would send a little girl to hell. Because really, those are the only two scenes that talk of religion at all, really.

    I agree with you that the book deals with some very important ideas. Not only how to deal with the loss of a friend, but how to open yourself up to new ideas and possibilities, acceptance of lifestyles different from your own and how to just be a kid and have fun.

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