A Measure of Master’s Degrees – Podcast Summary

A Measure of Master’s Degrees – ABF Podcast Summary (16 March 2018)

Is an MBA worth it? It’s the cost that put people off, as a reputable master’s programme can be about 100k USD for a good one overseas, like an Ivy League school. For the INSTEAD one in Singapore, it isn’t cheap as well. The tuition fees also can cost up to a $100k for a programme. In the US, there are plenty of students on debt, and the numbers are growing. Many borrowers may default on their student loans as well. The return of investments may not be very clear as well.

Is working experience more important as compared to having an MBA? Some people would prefer to take up specialists’ masters degrees, as they are cheaper and can land you good jobs as well. The NUS MBA gives you a framework for good decision making, and that would be useful for an entrepreneur, and give you a broad based experience. The MBA can provide you with a lot of contacts, such as that of VCs. Some of the lecturers at NUS are also angel investors, and take care of incubators etc and may be a great value-add for any entrepreneur. A large number of grads in the US have MBAs and it is considered a ‘premium education’.

For the entry level, MBA can give you the edge at the start, and it is easier to land a job. However, whether you can fast track into management remains to be seen. Quite a number of MBAs have relevant work experiences as well. For the Big 4 accounting firms, work experiences matters more. If you get an MBA right after school, the value of it diminishes somewhat.

In Asia, are brand name MBAs important? For investment banking and management consulting, MBAs are a must. One needs to be very clear before taking up an MBA programme. For general management roles, MBAs are preferred also. There are also many options for local Singaporeans to get local scholarships. Quite a number of students are being sponsored by their organizations. The NUS MBA is flexible and you can complete it within 3 years. Academic scenarios or case studies in the curriculum are definitely relevant, and not just theory, for example: digital marketing. For NUS MBA, there are even models you can take and customize your own learning journey.

However, nowadays there are roles that require specialist marketing degrees. Specialist masters are becoming a lot more popular in recent times. Even without masters, MBA, if you upskill yourself in a technical area, it is still possible to strive and do well in the job market, especially in the tech-space.


Panel Discussion: Why Study Literature?

Why Study Literature? (15 March 2016)

This panel members comprised of Philip Holden, Loh Guan Liang, Tan Tarn How and Tan Chee Lay. The topic of discussion was ‘Why Study Literature?’ The hard truths are that there are less Singaporeans reading literature nowadays despite them believing that there are benefits associated it. Refer to this article on the StraitsTimes. The essential question to ask is ourselves is ‘Can literature even be taught and studied’? Does the Singapore education system support creative ways in teaching literature when there is heavy emphasis on grades? Can the two co-exist?

The current form of assessment in literature requires students to sit for exams and regurgitate facts. This might not be the way to get students interested in the subject. This is because studying for exams often requires memorizing and rote learning. Hence, students might be passive in their learning and not appreciate a sensitive reading of the text. The aim of a literature education is for students to be able to apply what they have learnt. This could be done via the introduction of creative writing in schools. Currently, the required readings in schools, like Shakespeare, might seem too advanced for certain segments of students. As a result, for those who do not have a strong English language proficiency, they might lose interest in literature altogether. This is certainly not ideal. Elements of English literature could be incorporated in the English language syllabus. In lower Secondary, literature should be taught in a fun way so as to pique student’s interest in literature. At this level, a portfolio-based assessment could be introduced. In upper Secondary, some form of examination is inevitable and students should be prepared for some level of rigour in assessment.

Literature is great because it teaches you that accuracy does not equate to the truth all the time. Reading is proven to improve grades in students. In addition, it is the great equalizer and a child from a not well-to-do family who reads widely might be able to break free from poverty via the knowledge attained from reading. In general, literature helps formulate better citizens and make them more tolerant and aware of conflicts that arise in the world. Literature opens your mind to different values, ideas and concepts out there. The beauty of reading fiction is that it enables one to live other people’s lives and see things from other people’s point of view. Asking why people like literature is akin to asking why do people sing, write, dance etc? Such a question is essentially asking something more fundamental: why is there is need for arts? Why are the art important? Singaporeans are known to lead materially comfortable lives but have not attained the level of human flourishing in order first-world cities. Most of us lead mundane drone-like lives, living from day-to-day. Do visit Tarn How’s blog on human flourishing here. Basically, people who like literature are covet rebels. They value self-expression and protest against the certain conflicts that exist in the world. They believe in the value of individuality and do not like to be told what to do. Chinese literature used to be huge in the 1920s, 1930s. However, it has taken a back seat in recent years and you can hardly find a Singaporean Chinese writing in the Chinese language. Despite this, the Writers’ association/Singapore Writers’ association are doing good work. Some of the community centres have also worked hard to compile Chinese short stories/poems written by Singapore Chinese into books.

How do you improve the situation? It would certainly be beneficial for people who like English literature to attend Chinese literature-related events and expose themselves to different cultures. Literature should transcend languages and should be viewed as one. To address the lack of readers/writers, the government could do more in the areas of funding translations works from other languages to English and vice versa. Books in the libraries could be arranged by themes instead of by different languages (current practice). This novel approach might encourage more people to read books in other languages. Views towards works that contain smatterings of Singlish could be viewed more favourably in future. It might even be feasible to introduce such works as literature text for students. The bifurcation of the study of the English language with English literature is a trans-national issue and other countries also battle this problem.


Holes by Louis Sachar

It was a dry, flat wasteland (Camp Green Lake). It was deserted without any people. Warden has a shade. Scorpions and rattlesnakes won’t bother you if you ignore them. One has to avoid getting bitten by the yellow-spotted lizard at all costs.

Boys would go to the Lake to dig holes. Stanley was a poor guy. He was handcuffed in the bus. Stanley thought he could have friends in the camp. He was overweight. Sadly, he was accused for a crime he didn’t commit because of his dirty and cunning grandfather. Stanley’s father was an inventor but he didn’t have much luck. The grandfather was often used as a scapegoat for everything. Every child was named Stanley Yelnats. Not all Stanleys were failures in their lives. However, most of them didn’t fair well. Stanley finally reached Camp Green Lake. It was not green and it felt like a desert.

His throat was dry and it hurt. The land was barren and desolate. CAMP GREEN LAKE JUVENILE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY. He had to meet the guard. The man in the cowboy hat was the guard. Stanley was given two sets of clothes and a towel. He had to wear orange jumpsuits and white sneakers. The guard made him dig 1 hole every day and each must be 5 feet deep and 5 feet across. After the hole has been dug, the rest of the day was his. There was no fence and the guard challenged him to run away. There was no water for over a hundred miles. ‘Well, you better get used to it. You’re going to be thirsty for the next 18 months.’ Camp Guard

Stanley stayed in the D tent. Mr Pendanski was the counselor (Pen-Dance-Key). The Warden was very mean and Stanley was warned. Stanley was introduced to Rex and Alan. The kids were all dripping with sweat. Stanley got to sleep on Barf Bag’s cot. The 3 other boys were Jose, Theodore and Ricky. Stanley was afraid of getting bullied.

Everyone was allowed a 4minute water shower. There was no hot water. Dinner was stewed meat and vegetables. Stanley admitted he stole a pair of sneakers from Clyde Livingston. He was a famous baseball player. No one believed Stanley when he proclaimed his innocence. The cot smelled like sour milk. When walking home one day, a pair of sneakers felt from the bridge and landed on Stanley. Stanley kept it. Suddenly, while running, a police car came and arrested him. The shows were meant to be sold at an auction to raise funds for the homeless. His parents agreed to send him to Camp Green Lake.

The shovel was heavy in his hands. Digging was hard and Stanley found it tiring. All the shovels were five feet long. The whole lake looked like a moon crater. Digging helps build character. Five feet was awfully deep and wide. Soon, a blister formed on his finger. Now, his hole was 3 feet deep. The sun came up and it was warm. New blisters began to form and the sun was scorching hot now. The first hole was always the hardest. Stanley thought about quitting. The hole was their bathroom too. Elya carried a full grown pig up the mountain to impress Myra in order to get married. Zero, the smallest kid finished digging. All of them spat in the hole before heading back to camp. It felt like digging your own grave. Elya ended up falling in love with Sarah Miller in America. It was his great grand father. Now, his hole was deep enough, but not wide enough. Stanley was almost done with it. Stanley felt a sense of achievement.

The yellow spotted lizards liked to live in holes and wait before pouncing on their prey. Stanley didn’t shower with the soap. There was a room called Wreck Room. A lot of the entertainment facilities were broken. The pool table was not flat. Stanley didn’t want to get in a fight with a boy named the Caveman. X-Ray and Armpit came to his rescue. There was less fun in digging the second hole. Stanley wrote a letter to his mum.

Stanley woke up the next day. Every part of his body was aching badly. The second hole was even harder than the first. Stanley grunted and persisted. Stanley found a rock with fish fossils and believed that it was a lake previously. Now the truck came. Stanley gave the fish to Mr Pendanski. The warden wasn’t interested in fossils.

Stanley returned to his pathetic hole. X-ray wanted Stanley to give him everything he found. His logic was that he was there for a year and he deserved the rest. X-Ray was one of the smaller dudes around. Stanley was now the biggest. He was given the nickname Caveman. Stanley imagined that the ex-bully in school wouldn’t stand a chance against his new friends.

Stanley was the last one to complete. X-ray mentioned that the third hole is the hardest. Mr Pendanski emphasized on the importance of having goals. It was the first time Zero smiled. What do you want to do with your life? Zero said he liked to dig holes.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Nothing in life is easy. But that’s no reason to give up. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. After all, you only have one life, so you should try to make the most of it. – Mr Pendanski

It was the next day and Stanley worked on the next hole. Stanley started losing some weight from the physical exertion. His skin was tougher now. Stanley sifted through his pile and found a gold tube. Later he saw the words K B etched on the gold tube. The tube somehow looked strangely familiar. Zigzag and the other boys came to look. Stanley had been in the camp for 2 weeks already. X-Ray collected it. He would present it the next day. Stanley was allowed to move up the line when collecting water.

X-Ray announced to Mr Pendaski that he might have found something. He thought that X-Ray might be able to get the day off. He would be given the day off. The Warden was a lady. The Warden wanted Stanley to go over. She was angry at Mr Pendaski for not following instructions. However, she let him off after a while.

He had to continue filling the canteens. The warden wanted zero the best digger to take over X-ray’s hole. Stanley had to transfer anything he found on the wheelbarrow. The dirt was to be shoveled on the wheelbarrow. The Warden didn’t want them to miss anything. Now, it dawned on Stanley that they were digging to find something.

X-ray was excited when he had the day off. Everyone worked harder after lunch. Now, Stanley tried to tell the Warden where the gold tube was found. Now, Stanley received a letter from his mother. His dad was trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers.

The digging didn’t reveal anything and the boys had to work longer hours. In the meantime, the Warden was getting impatient. The boys continued to dig. The warden had a pitchfork. She wanted to cut down on their water supply. Stanley was hurt by a shovel. He felt blood along the side of his ear.

The boys started digging their own holes now. Zigzag’s shovel hit him yesterday. Now, Stanley spat in the hole. Tomorrow, they were going to learn rock climbing. Zero wanted to learn to read and write and wanted Stanley to teach him. Zero didn’t have anyone to write too. Stanley finished a letter to his parents.

Squid was crying. He had allergies. There were no racial problems. X-Ray, Armpit, Zero were black. Stanley, Squid and Zigzag were white. Magnet was Hispanic. Someone threw sunflower seeds in Stanley’s hole. He quickly dumped dirt in his hole. Stanley admitted that he stole the sunflower seeds from the truck and ate them himself. It was a lie. Sir would report him to the Warren.

He was a condemned man. Stanley entered the cabin door. The Warden removed her makeup case and showed it to Stanley. She applied the bottle of nail polish made from Rattlesnake venom on her skin. Mr Sir got slapped by The Warden and the venom sunk in. He let out a scream and his body was in agony. The Warden mentioned that he wasn’t going to die. She didn’t care about his sunflower seeds.

Suddenly, Stanley saw a rattlesnake. Luckily, he took evasive action in time to escape. After he took the blame, the other boys finished his hole. It seemed like only Zero did it for him.

Zero liked digging holes. Zero helped Stanley because he didn’t steal the seeds. Stanley wanted to teach him. Zero was delighted now. It started with alphabets. It would be difficult and time consuming to teach him. In exchange for that, Zero would dig Stanley’s hole for a while. ‘I’m not stupid. I know everybody thinks I am. I just don’t like answering their questions.’ Zero .Now, Stanley recalled that he saw the gold tube in his mother’s bathroom. K.B. stood for Kate Barlow, he wondered?

In the past, Green Lake was the largest lake in Texas. In the past, Katherine Barlow made peaches. She was also a schoolteacher and a very loving and caring person. Trout Walker liked her. He was the son of the richest man in the county. He was also rude and stupid. The Walkers had a new boat. He wanted to bring KB around but she rejected his invite.

Mr Sir’s face had swollen. He didn’t want anyone to comment on his face. Stanley kept working on his hole. The first water truck was driven by Mr Pendanski and the second by Mr Sir. Mr Sir didn’t fill any water for Stanley and mocked him by splashing his share of the water on the ground.

Sam was the doctor in the town of Green Lake. Mary Lou was 50 years old and carried onions. Sam was extremely old and liked to eat onions. He had many unique forms of treatments. Sam helped to fix KB’s roof in exchange for her spiced peaches. KB liked to hang out with Sam. They soon fell in love.

The schoolteacher kissed the onion picker. Trout Walker termed her the devil woman. Someone grabbed her dress. KB went to the sheriff, who didn’t do much help at all. KB declared that she needed to leave the place immediately. They set fire to the schoolhouse. Sam and KB headed off on a boat. Sam was killed when Walker’s boat eventually caught up with them. Mary Lou the donkey was shot too. KB was captured. Since 110 years ago, not one drop of water fell on the land. 3 days later, KB shot the Sheriff. Since then, she was one of the most feared outlaws around.

Mr Pendanski gave Stanley more water now. The other boys were jealous that Zero helped to dig his hole for a while. The swelling on Mr Sir’s face went down. Mr Sir finally gave him water. Stanley was suspicious and didn’t want to drink it. Hector Zeroni was Zero’s real name.

KB returned to Green Lake after 20 years. Everything was gone. Suddenly, Trout Walker’s came one day and threatened her unless she told them where the loot was. It is rumoured that KB robbed banks. KB refused to them him where she hid them. They made her keep walking barefoot in the hot sun. Linda hit KB with the shovel. A lizard bit Kate’s bare ankle and this caused her to collapse to the ground. KB died laughing. Legend had it that treasure was still buried.

The weather was becoming ever warmer than ever. A storm was on happening off the east. The boys wanted rain to come. KB robbed Stanley’s great-grandfather. The image of a fist and thumb were in Stanley’s mind.

It was Zigzag’s birthday the next day. Stanley dug his 45th hole in the camp. Zigzag started treating Stanley better on his birthday by volunteering to help him dig his hole. He was actually trying to tease him. Mr Pendanski wanted Stanley to teach the bully a lesson. Now, Zigzag jumped on top of Stanley. Now, Zero had his arm around Zigzag. All the counselors came from their officers. Zigzag was angry that Stanley didn’t have to dig the holes of by himself. The Warden learnt that Stanley was doing this trade with Zero. Mr Pendanski and the Warden started quizzing the boy and started laughing at him. The Warren cancelled the reading lessons and forbade Zero from helping Stanley. Zero then challenged by refusing to dig another hole. Stanley was angry too as he wanted to teach Zero. Zero took the shovel and smashed it on Mr Pendanski’s face. The warden ordered an investigation. Zero started walking away. Stanley knew that he needed water. Before the end, the warden wanted the remaining 6 members to dig 7 holes.

Isn’t it more important for him to learn to read? Doesn’t that build character more than digging holes. – Stanley

Stanley was angry at everyone and mostly himself. Now, he wanted to help dig Zero’s hole. He dug at the hottest part of the day. He was thinking of making a run for it. He also thought about telling the Warden where the gold tube was. The next day, Zero didn’t return. Zero needed to find God’s thumb and climb the mountain. There should be water there. The Warden ordered the destruction of all of Zero’s records. She didn’t want to think prisoners died here. No one cared about Hector Zeroni.

Two days later, Brian was assigned to Group D and his nickname was Twitch. He occupied Zero’s belongings. He stole a car and ended up in Green Lake. Stanley still couldn’t help not thinking about Zero. Stanley was fidgeting and wanted to drive the water van to look for Zero. But it was almost 4 days since he left. Mr Sir spotted him now. Stanley faster took off. The airbag exploded in his face. He had driven into a hole. Stanley was feeling extremely guilty and thought that it was the end of the world. Now, Stanley ran off.

Stanley slowed to a walk. No one was chasing him. His plan was to look for Zero and return to the camp once he needed water. The holes stretched out over great distances. The warden wasn’t sure where it was and kept making the boys dig. Later, he spotted some red lizards and he kept running. Thankfully, they didn’t chase him. Later, he found an stack of empty sack of sunflowers.

The sun was overhead now. He knew he had to turn back soon. Soon, his eyes played tricks on him as he saw a mirage. Now, he saw the thumbs up size. Now, he could make out the shape of a large lake. It turned out to be an abandoned boat. There were the words on the boat ‘Mary Lou’. There was a tunnel and a small hand emerged from it.

It was Zero who had been hiding there. Zero didn’t want to go back to camp. Zero realized that it was cooler under the boat. Zero took his shovel with him before he left. It was much better under the boat. Zero drank some water from under the boat. It felt like heaven. However, there were no jars left. Stanley insisted on taking him back. Barf Bag stepped on a rattlesnake on purpose. Mary Lou was the name of the boat. Zero was suffering from stomach cramps and it hurt badly. Zero was prepared to die out here and Stanley was soon a little resigned to that fact.

 When you spend your whole life living in a hole, the only way you can go is up. – Zero

Now, they headed out. Now, Zero had another attack and he collapsed. The two of them continued. It was like chasing the moon. Zero wanted to sit down now. He collapsed. As long as Zero could go on, Stanley felt that they could. Stanley now felt he could handle the pain of death. It would be his parents and friends that he would be letting down. Now, they reached a cliff and started climbing it. They devised a plan for both of them to go up the cliff. Zero had gashes on his hands now.

Stanley could see the base of the mountain. Big Thumb was their only hope. The ground got steeper and steeper. The two boys didn’t have strength to swat off the bugs. Now, Zero threw up. There were weeds and bugs nearby and it was an indicator of water.

Zero collapsed again. Zero dangled in front of him. Now the ground flattened. Now, Zero fell and ended up in the muddy ditch. Now, Stanley started digging in the soggy soil. Stanley dragged him to the hole for water. It was an onion. The both of them ate it.

Zero wasn’t doing well and he was shaking violently. Stanley was planning to head down to retrieve the shovel. Zero admitted he was the one who took his shoes. He was referring to the pair which landed Stanley up in jail. Zero apologized.

Stanley found the onion now. He ate it. Flashback. The onion tonic could heal people. Over the next 2 days, Stanley and Zero ate onions and splashed dirty water in their mouths. Stanley headed down the mountain to look for the shovel. The onions gave him strength back. Stanley found the jars and the shovel and climbed back up the mountain.

Thankfully, Zero’s condition was improving. Stanley slowly peeled an onion. Zero liked sleeping outside. He admitted that he took the shoes from the glass case. Later, he placed the shoes at the top of the parked car. However, he kept stealing sneakers and eventually was caught.

Stanley had heard or read somewhere that right before a person freezes to death, he suddenly feels nice and warm. He wondered if perhaps he was experiencing something like that. – Louis Sachar (Holes)

Their hole was size feet deep. It was eventual that they had to return to the camp. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt happiness. Zero was sleeping near him now. To Stanley, it felt like destiny that he was in Camp. He actually felt happy for once. Stanley wanted to return to the camp and steal food etc. Now, Stanley wanted the treasure since he knew where it was buried.

Zero remembered as a child, he had a yellow room. They wanted to head down the mountain to dig. Now, the both of them felt scared. Stanley suddenly fell but thankfully he was alright. Some of the onions in the sack fell off. Zero finally spotted the Mary Lou. Zero didn’t know why his parents left him. They finally came to the Camp and could make out sounds from the Camp. They made sure it was late and there was no movement from the camp before they headed off. Now, they waited for the camp to fall asleep.

It was pitch dark outside. Zero wanted to refill their water jars. It was hard to even see what he was digging. The aim was to make the hole wider. Zero took over the digging. Now, they hit a hard object on the ground. It was metal or a treasure chest. It was a box like object. The plan was to dig a hole underneath it to try and release it. It now felt like a metal suitcase. They got it. Suddenly the Warden came to them and thanked them.

The suitcase was on Zero’s lap. Mr Sir, the Warden and Mr Pendanski were all there. Two lizards crawled on the suitcase and Zero froze. Now, Stanley was freaked out because he could see 6 lizards around him. The Warden was elated because in the past, her parents and her had to dig holes. The lizard on his neck now.

One lizard headed towards Mr Pendanski and Mr Sir shot it. The warden wanted to fabricate a story where it would seem like Stanley and Zero died by accident. Stanley didn’t move and thought about his younger days. It was day break and the lizards didn’t go away.

There were 8 lizards in the hole with Stanley. The Warden wanted Mr Sir to take the suitcase from Zero. A tarantula came along. A lizard attacked and ate it. The lizards now returned in the hole and were now on his stomach, legs and feet. There were 2 on Zero. Suddenly two cars came and a man in a business suit and cowboy hat emerged. The other person was a woman holding the briefcase. It was Stanley’s lawyers. They wanted to file for child abuse. The Warden starting lying to the lawyers. Luckily, Stanley managed to escape from the hole. Zero still held the suitcase. On the suitcase, it had the words STANLEY YELNATS.

Now, all of them walked back to camp. The tall man was the Texas Attorney General. Stanley’s lawyer was Ms. Morengo. The Warden kept twisting the story and nobody believed her. She claimed her belongings were in the suitcase which Stanley stole. The AG issued a piece of paper to Ms Morengo and Stanley was free to go. The AG promised that Zero was fine and that a full investigation would be launched. AG demanded for Zero’s file. Mr Pendanski couldn’t find it. The Warden knew she had disposed for it. Everyone realized Cavemen (Stanley) and Zero were alive. It was said that the boys didn’t have to dig holes already. The AG wanted Zero to follow him too.

The lizards don’t like onion blood. Ms Morengo took the suitcase with them. An investigation was conducted that revealed Stanley couldn’t have stolen it as he had an alibi. Zero confessed to stealing it. For the first time in a hundred years, a drop of rain fell.

The AG closed Camp Green Lake. In a few years, it will become Camp Green Lake. End of Story. There were sparkling jewels in the briefcase. However, they won’t worth a lot. The briefcase also contained stock certificates, deeds of trust, promissory notes etc. They were worth more and Stanley and Zero walked away with a great deal of money. Stanley used the money to buy a new house and a laboratory. 1.5 years later, they had a party. Clyde had smelly feet and soon was advertising for Sploosh, the product that Stanley’s Dad invented. Clyde was invited to the party as well.

The End!


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