Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Jess’ dad started the pickup. May Belle and Joyce Ann were still asleep. May was his sister. Jess loved running. It was in the midday now. There were Brenda, Joyce, Ellie and Momma in the house. May really liked Jess. Jess had 4 sisters (Brenda, Joyce, Ellie and May). Miss Bessie (a cow) followed Jess. Jess started running. Jess always had the winning mentality. This year, Jesse was touted to be the victor for the race. Their dad worked on a farm and it was a laborious job. His sisters commented that he stank after entering the house from a run. Momma didn’t have money for Ellie and Brenda to go shopping. Momma was strict and didn’t want to give them any more money. Jesse was tasked to do some of the household chores as well. There were people moving into the old Perkins place. People moved there because they had no decent place to go.

Jesse helped his mum pick and can the beans. Ellie and Brenda were still out shopping. May hated her sister, Joyce. Joyce was just a baby at that time. Jess started to draw people who drank whiskey. He was afraid of showing his drawings to dad because his dad didn’t want him to be an artist. Jess used to have a crush on the music teacher, Miss Edmunds. She often praised Jess’ drawings. Jess was a student at Lark Creek Elementary. She was indeed quite a hippie. Mommy reminded Jess milk the cow. Dad was finally home and he was exhausted from work, as always. Ellie bought a see-through blouse. Even though he was tried the next morning, Jess forced himself to run even harder. Someone near the fence at Old Perkins place commented ‘If you’re so afraid of the cow, why don’t you just climb the fence?’ She was someone who just moved in to the Perkins. Her name was Leslie Burke and she looked like a tomboy. She wanted to be friends with Jess.

Leslie was also in the same school as Jess. Mrs Myers was the teacher in charge for their class. Leslie was dressed a little funny for her first day of school. Gary Fulcher was his classmate who wanted to compete with Jess at running. Sometimes, Jess would draw things in school when he was bored. Gary and Jess got into a small spat at school. People teased Leslie during lunch. There were about 28 boys who wanted to race each other. Surprisingly, Leslie visited Jess when he was about to run. Gary teased Leslie and challenged her to run. Leslie agreed to join in. Leslie was surprisingly quick and beat Jess at the race. Despite winning the heat, Gary wanted her to play hopscotch and not continue. Jess wasn’t too pleased and tried to avoid Leslie. However, now he started finding her beautiful.

You never know ahead of time what something’s really going to be like. – Leslie Burke

Leslie consistently beat the boys at running. Leslie didn’t make running fun because she kept winning. Jess liked to show Miss Edmunds his pictures as she could appreciate them. Later on, Jess and Leslie started smiling at each other in class. Leslie used to be very good at gymnastics. Her parents brought her to the farm to move away from the rat race. Jess couldn’t understand why she wanted to be in the suburbs. Money wasn’t a problem for her. Leslie wrote about scuba diving at school. She had a very impressive style of writing. Leslie didn’t have a television set at home. That was quite shocking news. The other girls started making fun of her. Leslie was really upset by the events today. Leslie and Jess were planning to do something together. Leslie gave May some dolls to play with. Meanwhile, Jess and her started playing with a rope attached to the tree. Now, Leslie suggested that Jess and her needed a secret place to live in. She suggested the woods. Their secret land would be known as ‘Terabithia’. They grabbed materials they could find in order to build their castle. They felt really secure and comfortable in this secret place. The both of them hated a bully on the bus, Janice Avery. Leslie educated Jess on the story of Moby Dick. Jess was not afraid of being teased at school about his girlfriend anymore. Leslie often thought mischievous thoughts, almost she did not act on them. Both of her parents were writers. They were generally nice to Jess when he visited. Leslie always wore long pants and had very short hair. To Jess, Leslie was more than a friend and he really enjoyed her company. The pine forest was also Leslie’s favorite place.

The real giant was Janice Avery. Janice had two huge friends, Wilma and Bobby. One day, in school, Janice Avery stole May’s sweets. Jess and Leslie were planning to do something, but they were not sure what yet. They also didn’t want to get in trouble with Mr Turner. They decided to pretend to be Williard, a handsome dude in 7th grade. He would write a note addressed to Janice. Now the problem was how to plant the note. Jess managed to sneak into their class to place the note. Soon, news spread that Janice had a date. Later, the two of them revealed to May that they wrote the note. Janice was mad at what had happened but didn’t know who did it.

It was nearly Christmas now. Brenda and Ellie didn’t consider Leslie a girlfriend because of the way she dressed. It was almost Christmas and Jess didn’t have anything to give her. He tried to make a book from his drawings but nothing seemed to work. He was short of cash and couldn’t afford to buy much. Ideally, Jess wanted to buy her a TV. However, that would be too expensive. Jess now arrived at the castle with the puppy. Leslie was pleased with the puppy as a gift and thanked Jess. Later, it was decided that he would be named Prince Terrien, the guardian of Terabithia. Leslie bought Jess a box of watercolors for his Christmas present. The dog was adorable and liked to imitate people. Dad gave Jess a racing car set. The other girls all received their gifts as well. It really felt like Christmas.

Mr Burke was repairing the Perkins place. Jess didn’t like visiting Teraithia alone and wanted Leslie’s company. Mum liked to nag at Jess at home. Leslie liked to help her dad and tried her best to understand her parents. Jess didn’t quite like Leslie’s father though. Her dad was Bill. Mr Burke painted the living room gold and it looked brilliant. No one else knew of Terabithia. They pretended to be king and queen in their own castle. They fought an imaginary foe. Janice was crying in the school restroom. Jess couldn’t believe that she was crying. Now, they were planning to do something. Leslie was pissed as it was Jess’ idea. After Leslie went to chat with Janice, she was pleased after the encounter. It turns out that Janice was crying because her father hit her at home. She complained to her friends Wilma and Bobby about it and they spread it to everyone else. Leslie was getting closer to Janice and they were becoming friends. May did follow Leslie and Jess to their castle. Jess made May swear that she won’t tell mum about it.

All those people wanting to kill Jesus when he hadn’t done anything to hurt them. It’s really kind of a beautiful story – like Abraham Lincoln or Socrates – or Aslan. – Leslie

You have to believe it, but you hate it. I don’t have to believe it, and I think it’s beautiful. – Leslie

It was nearly Easter. It rained very heavily recently. Dad got fired and the family didn’t have money to buy new clothes. The family only went to church during Easter. Leslie wanted to visit church to see what it’s like. Mum finally allowed Jess to go provided she dressed up. The entire family were in church now. Jess always zoned out at church and didn’t pay much attention to it. Leslie found the church experience interesting. Leslie was basically a non-believer. May said that Leslie would go to hell if she didn’t believe in God and the Bible. Leslie didn’t believe that. May was persistent in her thinking.

Jess and Leslie wanted to visit Terabithia. Judy, Leslie’s mum, asked them on where they were headed. The two of them wanted to wear boots to walk in the rain. They came upon the creek. It was like a sea, where branches were swirling around. It would be dangerous to try to swing on the rope to the castle. Leslie insisted to continue. Thankfully, Jess and she managed to get to the other end unscathed. They headed to Terabithia on Tuesday and Wednesday. The rain was unrelenting and Leslie commented that some evil spirit was upon their kingdom. They wanted to combat this evil spirit. Jess didn’t think he was worthy of being king as he was cowardly. Leslie on the other hand, was a courageous lady.

O Spirits of the grove. We are come on behalf of our beloved kingdom which lies even now under the spell of some evil, unknown force. Give us, we beseech thee, wisdom to discern this evil, and power to overcome it. – Leslie

Lord, it would be better to be born without an arm than to go through life with no guts. – Jess

Jess woke up and would milk Miss Bessie. It was still raining heavily. He wondered whether cows were ever scared of anything. Jess wanted to be more courageous in future. Miss Edmunds was on the phone. She suggested to take him to the National Gallery in Washington. Jess asked his mum for permission. Thankfully, his mum agreed. Miss Edmunds came to pick him up. The gallery was majestic, to say the least. It was a sacred place. Thankfully, she would also pay for Jess’ lunch. They walked in brilliant sunshine. This was certainly a perfect day. Miss Edmunds was simply extremely kind. When he arrived home, the family had bad news to announce. Leslie was dead and the family feared that he might have been dead too.

Jess stood and his jaw dropped. She passed away at the bottom of the creek. The rope that they were using snapped and she must have hit her head. Jess didn’t believe what had happened. He ran to the Perkins house and continued running. His father chased him using a pickup. His dad quickly picked him up. Jess was still in denial. He still wanted to have adventures with the dog and her. Jess recalled that he failed to ask Leslie whether she could go to Washington with him. He still wanted to share his story in Washington with her. Mum, for once, made brilliant pancakes and Dad also helped to milk the cow for him today. Jess wasn’t sure of what to do or where to go. His parents were planning to pay respects to her family now.

They walked to the Perkins place. They went into the golden room. Leslie’s grandmother was there as well. She broke down into tears. Bill was shaking as well. Jess hoped that Leslie would come in and rescue the situation. Bill thanked Jess for being a good friend to her. The body would be cremated and the ashes would be taken back to Pennsylvania tomorrow. Jess told life wasn’t fair and he didn’t do anything to deserve it. Jess was all alone in this world now. Back at home, May asked whether he had seen her being laid out and Jess hit her. May started whimpering like a kid. Jess felt the house and started screaming and running. He flung the paints into the river. There was nowhere else to go. ‘I don’t care! I don’t care!’ His dad was still by his side. Jess volunteered to take care of the dog while her family was in Pennsylvania. The dog obviously missed Jess a great deal.

Lord, Jess, don’t be a fool. God ain’t gonna send any little girls to hell. – Dad

Jess was ready to milk the cow again. It was a beautiful spring morning. The creek level was well lower now. He could not find the paints he dumped the day before. The dog paddled across the stream. The dog and Jess visited the castle. Jess wanted to make a funeral wreath for the queen. He laid it down on the thick carpet of golden needles. Then he heard May who shouted for help. Jess moved over to the creek to rescue her. Thankfully she was alright. May just wanted to look for Jess as she felt lonely and scared. Everybody gets scared sometimes. Her desk was removed from the school. Even though he would be the fastest runner in school, it didn’t make him happy. Mrs Myers also expressed sympathy at his loss. Her eyes were also filled with tears. She would always be grateful to have taught someone like Leslie. They promised to help each other. Leslie gave him vision and strength and Jess would use that to enter the world. Bill and Judy returned from Pennsylvania. Jess dressed up May and brought her Terabithia again. He made her cross the bridge.

It ain’t the same for dogs. It’s like the smarter you are, the more things can scare you. – Jess

There’s a rumor going around that the beautiful girl arriving today might be the queen they’ve been waiting for. – Jess



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