Bridge to Terabethia

Paterson, Katherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Children's Literature

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Dec-06-2007


This is the tale of two youngsters who are, each in his or her own way, misfits in their environment. Jess is the only son of a farm family in the south, who cannot find his place as a fifth grader in his school. Leslie is the new arrival on the scene, who is also, for very different reasons, not a part of the local culture. The two connect, create their own magical kingdom in which they can reign and feel comfortable. They swing across the creek on a rope into Teribithia, a forested respite from a world that does not seem to work comfortably for either of them. The tale evolves through the development of this friendship, only to end in tragedy when Leslie drowns in the creek one day when Jess is away. The remainder of the story has to do with Jess's grief work, his steps through most of Kubler-Ross' stages, and eventual reconciliation with the loss of his best friend.


This work, written with young people as audience, has an interesting history of having been banned or challenged a number of times because of its focus on death as a reality infrequently dealt with in childrens' literature. The sensitivity with which the author develops the friendship and then the loss and the grieving process of the surviving friend makes this a particularly powerful base from which to engage children in the discussion of death.


Made into a film for television (1985) and a commercially distributed film (2007).


Harper Trophy (HarperCollins)

Place Published

New York



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