Bridge to terabithia jess and leslie relationship trust

Bridge to Terabithia |

bridge to terabithia jess and leslie relationship trust

Bridge to Terabithia is based on a book by Katherine Paterson. The only relationship he seems to have is with his younger sister May Belle (Bailee Madison). With parental neglect in common, Jess and Leslie form a bond. examined in this movie: friendship, trust in others, loyalty, caring, understanding and empathy. and find homework help for other Bridge to Terabithia questions at eNotes. Both Jess and Leslie have very creative personalities. Myers have a solid connection in the same way that Jess and Miss Edmunds have a special relationship. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Bridge to but Jess is profoundly uneasy, wondering how long he can "trust everything that Jess's discomfort with Leslie's relationship with her father demonstrates how.

Leslie shows shades of this in the novel, but not in the film. Does Not Like Shoes: In the novel, Jesse and Leslie both went barefoot as is seen on the cover partly because all the shoes they got were hand me downs and also it was not at all uncommon for kids in the s to go barefoot, especially in the country. Averted in the film. Death by Newbery Medal: One of the most famous textbook examples.

While killing a little girl might seem a bit brash and unanticipated, the entire story is inspired by a real-life event where a friend of Paterson's son was struck dead by lightning at the age of 8. In this Tearjerker of a novel, this trope is subtly implied with the friendship between Jess and his friend Leslie, a girl who introduces him to the titular Terabithia, and this variety of the "special, sweet, innocent" type of first love, on both Jess and Leslie's parts.

Five Stages of Grief: Jesse suffers these in alternating waves after Leslie dies in a very realistic sense. First there's denial, in the book because as he mentions Leslie is a good swimmer.

Then he runs out in anger and kicks his wardrobe before going to bed. For a long time he talks as if Leslie is alive which doubles as bargaining, lashes out at Maybelle for following him across the log. He only breaks down into depression when his emotions catch up to him in the woods, as does his father and finally comes to accept what happens. At one point Jess is afraid Prince Terrien the dog may fall down during crossing and drown. What if you die? Jesse doesn't invite Leslie to the museum in order to have some alone time with Ms.

Edmunds; Leslie dies crossing the rope swing to Terabithia alone the same day. Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jesse's father, Jesse Sr.

He is very strict towards his son, and even harsh at times, but it's understandable given the family's level of poverty. He's also shown to be a good parent in spite of it all, and the scene where he comforts his son after Leslie's death is one of the more poignant moments, especially in the film.

Longing For Fiction Land: The main two characters create a fictional world called Terabithia to deal with their school troubles. They are aware that it is a fantasy and wish it were real, although this doesn't stop them for having fun. Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Leslie fits the character type in that she's full of quirks, dresses oddly, as well as livening up Jess's world, though it's downplayed in that fact that the two do not get romantically involved. Jess gets a pretty bad deal out of this trope, since he's not only the very-middle child out of five, he's also the only boy.

Not to mention his older sisters bully him, Maybelle worships him and the youngest daughter is a particularly bratty baby. Oh, and he's a "Well Done, Son! One of the plot points, and conflict between Jesse and his dad, revolved around this trope. Set in the 70s, Jesse was into art and only had a girl for a friend, so his parents were quite uncomfortable with him spending so much time with Leslie.

After Jess and Leslie befriend, they bond through their imagination to form the fantastical world of Terabithia. The titular "bridge" finally appears in the last chapter, when Jesse builds it. Leslie invites Jess to swing over the riverbed to discover the land of Terabithia. Jesse, with his four sisters. Leslie is better at running than the boys and is teased for it, but makes a friend in the main character, who got her the chance to run.

How Jesse's father treats him after Leslie dies, and Mrs. Myers comforting him about it. Jesse has a crush on his music teacher, Ms. Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: There's the music teacher Miss Edmunds who is described as having long swishy black hair and blue, blue eyes. Lord, she was gorgeous. The real-life inspiration for Leslie was Katherine Paterson's son's childhood friend, Lisa Hill who was killed by a lightning strike while climbing some rocks on a beach.

The author originally intended to finish off Leslie the same way but ultimately changed it to a drowning because her editor felt it would be more believable. Probably right, but ironic. After Jess acts out in school by not doing his work, the teacher talks to him about grieving the loss of a loved one when it appears he's about to be punished. A similar thing happens in the book, only instead of punching a kid, Jesse didn't stand for the national anthem.

Jesse doesn't invite Leslie to the museum and she dies as a result. Jesse is understandably broken up over it. Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Edmunds invites Jesse to come to the art museum with her, and Jesse doesn't invite Leslie, sealing her fate. Jesse knows this and regrets it. Jesse's relationship with his father.

The Aarons' reactions once Jesse comes home from the museum. The movie contains examples of the following tropes Adaptation Distillation: In the film, the setting is changed to the present day, so there's less focus on Jesse wanting to be an artist, which was the main conflict between him and his father in the book.

It also doesn't make a big deal about Leslie being a Tomboy. Jesse's father is Jesse Sr. The aforementioned aloof big sisters are brunettes, at least in the version. Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Cast Show Off: One of the reasons for casting Zooey Deschanel as the music teacher is that she can actually sing. Invoked that the teacher doesn't even chew out Jesse for punching Scott Hoager when the latter jokes that with Leslie dead, Jesse is the fastest kid in school.

Once again, he hears a story full of death, including the murder of a monarch because of a desire for revenge.

Jesse Aarons

At the end of the play, the stage is strewn with the corpses of Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius, and Laertes. Several other characters have met their deaths earlier, including Ophelia, Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Hamlet's father. Like King Learwhich Paterson suggests should not be prescribed to solve the problems of the aging, Hamlet is no cure for those dealing with death.

Indeed, the deaths in the play have little in common with Leslie's. While Ophelia, Hamlet's intended, drowns in a river, too, her death is the result of madness. Leslie, on the other hand, is quite sane, a good swimmer, and, as someone who loves to go down into the water, a very unlikely candidate for drowning.

Although many characters die in The Chronicles of Narnia, Moby Dick, and Hamlet, these tales do not provide Jess with much insight into death—he savors them as stories which he would like to draw or as inspiration for Terabithia; but after Leslie's death, they cannot wipe away his grief.

They are not, however, his only chance to become vicariously acquainted with death. When his classmates write about their favorite hobbies, Jess, through Leslie's essay on scuba divingfeels what it is like to drown. Myers reads it aloud, Jess feels drawn into the water—what he hears causes him to choke and sweat, giving him the sensation of drowning. During his visit to the Smithsonian with Miss Edmunds, Jess is affected by yet another death story, dramatized by a diorama of "Indians disguised in buffalo skins scaring a herd of buffalo into stampeding over a cliff to their death with more Indians waiting below to butcher and skin them.

Both Leslie's essay and the buffalo diorama have a strong emotional impact on Jess, fascinating him, giving him a sense of the violence of death.

In the end, however, like the other death stories, they do not console him after Leslie's death. When the rope across the river breaks and Leslie falls into the water and drowns, her death is as unreal as an earlier image Jess has had of her "flattened straight out like the coyote on Road Runner," easily repaired and able to fight again another day Jess's first response to Leslie's death is that his family has told him a lie. Even when he and his parents visit the Burke family, Jess finds the grief of Leslie's grandmother incomprehensible—it is "as if the lady who talked about Polident on TV had suddenly burst into tears.

It didn't fit" At this point, one final story does have a sort of "therapeutic" effect on Jess. It differs sharply from Leslie's novels and the essay she has written because it validates his own experience and does not try to erase his feelings.

Ironically, it is Mrs.

bridge to terabithia jess and leslie relationship trust

Myers, the teacher he and Leslie have openly despised, who begins to make him feel better. She tells him, however, that she did not want to forget. Jess is surprised by the image of a loving, caring Mrs.

Myers, but recognizes that she "had helped him already by understanding that he would never forget Leslie" It is important to Jess that Mrs. Myers does not diminish the importance of his experience or make him deny that it has affected him.

Even though Jess has been fascinated by earlier encounters with death stories, they cannot alter what has happened to Leslie, nor can they provide the "portable solutions, preferably paperback" that Paterson cautions against Spying Heart Paterson carefully refrains from turning Jess's own story into a prepackaged set of solutions that would try to cure the problems of yet another grieving child.

Yet, as Rudman has suggested, Jess does pass through typical stages of mourning such as anger, denial, and acceptance. Paterson, however, respects his personal response to Leslie's death, making it clear that Jess's grief is genuine and should not be lightly dismissed.

While Paterson suggests that the stories of Aslan and Jesus, Captain Ahab and Hamlet are powerful, even beautiful, her own book treats death differently. Leslie's death is never glorified. Unlike the works the children have read, Bridge to Terabithia does not imply that her death is noble, nor is it anyone's fault.

Leslie has not been urged to stampede off a cliff nor has she brought about her own death by a desire for revenge. Her death is immediate, unalterable, and accidental. Paterson has created a book which, like Mrs.

Myers' story, does not ask the reader to dismiss the pain of death or to forget about it. Instead, she asks her readers to "go within themselves to listen to the sounds of their own hearts" Spying Heart While Paterson questions the validity of bibliotherapy, she also feels that books can provide readers with strength, sustenance, and hope.

Certainly, the books Leslie shares with Jess accomplish this. But they provide no quick cure—reading needs to be a cooperative effort between the writer and the reader. In Gates of Excellence, Paterson maintains, "I have no more right to tell my readers how to respond to what I have written than they have to tell me how to write it" In another essay, she writes that it is "only when the deepest sound going forth from my heart meets the deepest sound coming forth from yours—it is only in this encounter that the true music begins" Spying Heart Paterson has written the kind of book Jess would have appreciated reading, though it is clear that it would not have provided him with pat solutions or wiped away his grief.

In the end, Jess must resolve his feelings through his own actions, building a bridge into Terabithia, sharing with May Belle what he has learned from Leslie. Ultimately, the stories Jess has heard, as well as his friendship with Leslie, help him to "push back the walls of his mind and … see beyond to the shining world—huge and terrible and beautiful and very fragile"but it is up to him to stand up to his fears and create his own story.

Works Cited Bell, Anthea. Literature and the Child. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Kenneth L. Literature for Today's Young Adults.

bridge to terabithia jess and leslie relationship trust

On Reading and Writing Books for Children. The protagonists are younger than Paterson's previous heroes and heroines, and in some sense their situations are somewhat less desperate.

bridge to terabithia jess and leslie relationship trust

Jessie Aarons faces some of the same difficulties faced by Muna and Jiro. He especially faces the need to accept himself. But whereas Muna searches for a family, Jessie must find a place for himself in a family where he does not appear to fit in.

It is a complex and painful search. Bridge to Terabithia won Paterson the Newbery Award. In her acceptance speech she focused on the notion of bridges, which are central to the book. In fact, she argued that the book might itself be a bridge "that will take children from where they are to where they might be" "Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech," The bridge metaphor functions on several levels in this speech.

The novel is a bridge over the chasm of death that Paterson felt. It is a way to overcome the chasms established by "time and culture and desperate human nature. This reference to hope and crossings would, of course, be familiar to readers of her earlier novels. Bridge to Terabithia does focus on the notion of crossings. Jess Aarons is the most visible "crosser," though not the only one. In each case the crossing involves a movement from the most mundane, expected, humdrum way of the world into a realm of grace and high courtesy and imagination.

It is a crossing made by Jess and Leslie. It is a crossing promised to May Belle and perhaps to Joyce Ann. And it is a crossing offered to those who at first seem to be the least likely crossers: Jess's father and his teacher, Mrs. If these crossings define the growth of individual characters, they also define the growth of the family structures of those characters, especially as Jess's family comes to new awarenesses about their son's needs and their own willingness to show love. The novel opens with a moment of hope for Jess: His mother and older sisters do not find this to be even moderately interesting, though his two younger sisters do.

As his father is away most of the time, Jess is responsible for many of the chores, which he does alone. In fact, he does almost everything alone. At school, he is to be disappointed: Leslie Burke, a girl whose family has just moved into the house next door, is faster. In fact, she makes it clear that in many ways she does not know her place.

She plays with the boys, she wears grubby clothes, she admits that she has no television, and she virtually insists on being his friend. When Jess hears one of Leslie's papers read aloud, he recognizes in her the creativity and imagination that he feels but cannot express to his family.

He also recognizes his growing friendship, as he tries to help her to do what he does: Together, at first to escape from the world of their classroom, they create the kingdom of Terabithia, a land of high imagination. One can only enter by swinging across a dry creekbed. As their friendship grows, Jess must face the questioning of his classmates and family. But Leslie has opened up the world of the imagination for him, and he is not the same insecure boy he once was.

At Christmas he gives her a dog, Prince Terrian, and they rejoice in their imaginative world, in the sense that they can withdraw from the ugliness of the world around them, that they can understand life in a very different way.

The bickering of Jess's older sisters, the disappointed cynicism of his father, and the stifling classroom can be put aside. There is one teacher who can do for Jess something of what Leslie does: When, on a rainy Saturday, she offers to take Jess to an art exhibit, he agrees gladly. When he returns, however, he finds his family waiting: Leslie has drowned in the swollen creek while trying to cross the gully into Terabithia.

Stricken, Jess runs away. His father follows, and in a moment of unexpected grace and newfound love, he picks Jess up and carries him back to the pickup and their home. He cannot yet find the right words to connect with Jess, but he has found the right actions. His family cannot seem to understand his reaction, though they are gentle to him. He endures the funeral, the sympathies of his teacher, and the departure of Leslie's family.

Even Prince Terrien will be gone. But Jess has grown, and he has taken on the imaginative capacities of Leslie. He, too, will become a bridge. He builds a crude crossing over the gully, and, when his younger sister May Belle comes to see, he brings her across into Terabithia—a land of milk and honey—and introduces her to a world ever so much more real: Jess has grown from a rather shy and somewhat lonely child with no close friends to a giver of grace.

He is a boy placed in a stultifying school environment where the best strategy—a strategy Jimmy Jo uses—is to remain unobtrusive and unobserved. This is true with regard to both the teachers and other students.

When at the opening of the novel Jess is convinced that he will be the fastest runner, he holds back from taking the lead in organizing the races and lets others sort things out. When he is caught drawing in class, his response is one of almost despair: He slid the notebook paper back under his desk top and put his head down. A whole year of this. Eight more years of this. He wasn't sure he could stand it" In fact, there is almost no relief for Jess, except perhaps in the adoration of his younger sisters.

This is what makes his attack on Janice Avery so extraordinary. This retiring kid who is so anxious not to be noticed slights Janice in order to protect Leslie, thus calling himself to the attention of the school's bully. It is an instinctive response to protect his new friend. His growth has begun, but just begun. As he grows closer to Leslie, he grows in understanding of the demands of friendship.

Eventually he and Leslie will be the ones who minister to a lonely Janice; they find her to be more needy, less self-assured and independent than they imagined. Their ministry—an act almost unthinkable at the beginning of the novel—is perhaps not totally unexpected; Jess's kindness to his somewhat ignored younger sister suggests this quality, but it takes Leslie to help him to respond in this way on the level of his peers.

At the conclusion of the novel Jess is no longer trying to set himself apart, either through averting his eyes from others' gazes or through establishing himself as his class's fastest runner.

He is instead building bridges, making a way for others to participate in the imaginative world of Terabithia. This is the legacy of Leslie's friendship. Leslie Burke is in one essential way precisely the opposite of Jess. Where he is inherently fearful and inward, burying his imaginative exploits, hiding his art, Leslie is outward-looking though not extrovertedcelebrating her imagination.

She has an ambiguous relationship with these traits, at once a bit shy and discomforted by the way she appears to others and yet anxious to accentuate the distinctions. She is hurt by her classmates' disparaging rejection of her, yet she is completely aware of the differences responsible for her isolation. She innocently announces that her family has no television, she dresses quite differently and by choiceand she almost naively shows herself to be the dominant runner, thus alienating herself from all the boys in the class.

In fact, all of her classmates see her as intruding into spheres where she does not belong. But Leslie is a girl with an imaginative vision; it is something Jess soon recognizes about her.

She introduces the idea of Terabithia, and when she speaks, "the words rolling out so regally, you knew she was a proper queen" When Jess tries to draw a picture of Terabithia, Leslie responds out of her own imaginative vision: His line suggests his own somewhat buried imaginative vision, and Leslie's response is telling: You will someday" It is a moment of grace.

It is perhaps the first real encouragement he has ever received. It is certainly the first encouragement he has ever received from a peer. In fact, Leslie herself is the imaginative bridge into Terabithia.

Jess fears the swing across the gully, but even more he fears the swing across into the place of imagination. It is not something his father would understand or approve of, nor would his teacher, Mrs. Leslie does more than establish an imaginary kingdom with Jess; she helps him to establish a whole way of looking at things: And this is precisely what he does, as grace and the imaginative version merge, as he sets planks over a gully, and as he brings May Belle into a new land.

Jess and Leslie are not the only bridges in the novel. Certainly Miss Edmunds plays this role. She, like Leslie, is attuned to the artistic vision, and her music lifts Jess out of the strangling world.

She tells him to keep drawing, and on one elementary level he draws for her. She is also the one who brings him to the Washington, D. She, like Leslie, pushes back the limits of possibilities.

Bridge to Terabithia (Literature) - TV Tropes

There are also two unlikely bridges. Myers, Jess comes to realize, is not just one element in a stultifying world. And in fact she does help him, for she recognizes that Jess will always remember Leslie. Perhaps she is the first—though not the only—adult who recognizes this. The second unlikely bridge is Jess's father. Throughout the novel Jess is merely assumed by his father. Caught up in his own work, and then the lack thereof, he ignores Jess, provides no connection, never touches him; he forces Jess to hide what is most important to him.

After Leslie's death, however, it is his father who comes after him in the truck and who picks him up—the first time he has touched him in the novel—"as though he were a baby" Donna Diamond's illustration of this moment pictures them against Terabithian trees, and it is exactly right, for a connection has been made. It is an awkward connection: Jess's father does not know what to say.

But it is a connection nonetheless. It is his father who gently and with love brings Jess to the wake for Leslie's family. It is his father who gently keeps May Belle from intruding. It is his father who sits down with Jess after he has pitched Leslie's paints into the stream. He understands Jess's anger and grief. He pulls him onto his lap and soothes him, stroking his hair. He found it strangely comforting, and it made him bold" A bridge has been built. And perhaps it is stronger than either of them realize at the time.

After all, it is his paints and paper that Jess's father says should not have been thrown away. It is as though he is willing to affirm Jess's gifts. This is an enormous change; in a sense, Jess has been a bridge for his father as well, a father who had earlier denigrated Jess's desire to draw. Now, however, there are connections between them.

It had been a scattered family, with few connections. Jess's two older sisters whine their way into laziness; Jess's mother and father are too worn out to show much concern.

May Belle and Joyce Ann are too young to be real companions for Jess. Jess himself is the only one who tries to make connections between some of these isolated units; in the end, some bridges are indeed built, though gullies remain. Leslie's family, in contrast, seems much closer. They are not under the same financial pressures as Jess's, and, at least partially because of that, they are not ground down by constant worry. They explore things that would never occur to Jess's family to explore—music and art.

For Jess's family, these things are extraneous and impractical.

bridge to terabithia jess and leslie relationship trust

For Leslie's, they are some of the dearest parts of life. Jess responds somewhat sheepishly to this; he cannot bring himself to see these interests as quite normal. What brings these families together for the first and only time is one of the most elemental parts of life: This is a mutual grief that is almost startling.

Jess's father's constant reference to the "little girl" that God would never doom to hell suggests how he sees Jess—as a young child. Jess's family has feared that he too, had drowned, and he is given back to them as a gift beyond price—as, indeed, all children are. Jess has grown in the novel: Jess has had his imaginative vision affirmed. He has been introduced to whole new worlds of imaginative possibilities.

He has seen the union of the imagination with grace.

Jess and Leslie | Bridge to Terabithia | Pinterest | Bridge to terabithia, Movies and Bridge

He started out wanting to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade a goal he achieves ; he ends up something so much more. There is a strong suggestion in Bridge to Terabithia —stronger than in Paterson's earlier historical fiction—that there are stories yet untold here.

There are Leslie's parents who reject social expectations. There is Jess's father who has buried sensitivity and love until death digs it up. There is May Belle who yearns for love.

There is Janice Avery who bullies others to hide her pain. Myers who cries at the loss of her student. Readers see the story from a single, limited perspective; other perspectives, though they will impinge on the story's primary perspective, remain largely hidden and unknowable. This is what Jess learns when he befriends Janice Avery. Perhaps part of Jess's growth is his ability to see those other perspectives and to build bridges based on those new understandings.

Bridge to Terabithia New York: HarperCollins,; hereafter cited in text. American Library Association He won the race in fourth grade and became a hero for one day. Jess, an excellent artist, isn't considered a serious athlete; he is just a weird kid who can draw. But, he has not forgotten that sweet taste of winning, and he aims to do it again.

Each morning he sprints across the pastures and meadowlands of his family's small farm in rural Virginia, pushing himself harder and harder so that he will be ready on the day of the big race. Then, maybe his father will be proud of him. The truth is that Jess's father, who works in D. He comes home each evening tired from the long commute and expects Jess to have completed all the chores on the farm. Jess's sisters help out around the house, but there are times that Jess feels the burden of being the only son.

He craves time to himself, and wishes for a quiet place where he can draw and think. His father disapproves of his art so Jess has no one with whom he can share his drawings except Miss Edmunds, his music teacher. Then, Leslie Burke comes into his life. Jess meets Leslie for the first time on the day her family moves into the old Perkins place next to his family's farm.

There is something different about her, and the kids at school don't take long to notice. The first day of school is the day of the big race, and Leslie shows up to run. No girl has ever raced the boys.

Leslie's self-confidence surprises Jess, and the two are in the final race for the championship. She came in first and turned her large shining eyes on a bunch of dumb sweating-mad faces. It reminded him of the flight of wild ducks in the autumn. He and Leslie become friends, and the two find a secret hiding place across the creek from their adjoining homes where they create an imaginary kingdom they call Terabithia.

Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self—his way to Terabithia and the worlds beyond. A bit of the magic is lost for Jess when he returns from a museum trip to Washington with Miss Edmunds and finds that Leslie is dead. The rains had caused the creek to swell, and Leslie, in an effort to get to Terabithia, had fallen and hit her head, drowning in the rushing waters.

Unable to accept the news of Leslie's death, Jess takes off running. His father, following him in the pickup truck, overtakes Jess and lifts him into his arms, holding him like a baby. At school, Jess is paralyzed with sadness, but Mrs.

Myers, his teacher, understands his grief. This time, he makes a wreath of wildflowers and places it on the "carpet of golden needles" in Leslie's memory. He builds a bridge to Terabithia and carefully leads May Belle, his little sister, across the bridge to the magical kingdom that Leslie helped to create. There, he crowns May Belle Queen of Terabithia. Leslie would be pleased. Katherine Paterson speaks to her readers because she has a genuine and honest understanding of the realities of life, and she recognizes the importance of fantasy in everyone's world.

She tells Bridge to Terabithia with compassion, communicating an almost personal relationship with Jess and Leslie. Through the friendship of Jess and Leslie, Katherine Paterson offers vision and beauty to young readers, and promises hope no matter how difficult life may be.

Too Good to Miss. Critical Viewpoints,edited Nicholas J. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Many responded with Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson. Their answers captured some of the central themes of the book. But I like it that they're friends. Some of the others nodded. We went on then to discuss how Katherine Paterson and others of their favorite authors write and how we might improve our own writing.

But I continued to think about the comment of the fifth grader. I under- stood what she meant. I often look longingly at a book, wishing I had not yet read it. Sometimes, as I did this week with Bridge to Terabithia, I reread it. Because I was familiar with this story I savored it in a new way, anticipating each event and noticing details I had missed.

And because I'm a writer of juvenile fiction myself, I studied and admired the way Paterson developed her characters, built tension, and used language.

I find Bridge to Terabithia an exquisite book. A Newbery Award-winner, it tells the story of the friendship between two fifth-grade children, Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke.

Jesse, a native rural Virginian, comes from a large and very poor family. Wedged between two older and two younger sisters, Jesse feels frustrated at his parents' expectations of him and by their absence of affectionate gestures. In an effort to gain recognition and admiration, both with his family and with his classmates, Jesse works hard to become the top runner in his class. Though he practices diligently to beat the current lead-runner, a new student's racing skills beat everyone.

Her name is Leslie Burke. Like Jesse, Leslie is a lonely, needy child. Busy with their book-writing endeavors and with their interest in country living, Leslie's parents tend to ignore her need for love and attention. Unlike Jesse, Leslie's family is financially secure and, though living like "hippies," is in a socioeconomic group very different from Jesse's. Jesse and Leslie are both gifted young people, not unlike the students I teach.

These characters and my students share the same kind of curiosity and intensity of very bright people, Jesse in the visual arts and Leslie in writing and in general intellectual ability. Because they live at neighboring farms and because they share a perspective on life that is different from the other kids, Jesse and Leslie become close friends.

They spend time together at a woodsy hideout they call Terabithia. To get to their hideout they swing across a dry creek bed from a rope attached to an apple tree. There, in Terabithia, under Leslie's leadership, they create a richly developed kingdom where they are King and Queen. There they talk endlessly, imagining together and encouraging each other. Sometimes they plot revenge against the school bullies, and other times Leslie tells Jesse Shakespearean stories.

Terabithia becomes a second home for them, a safe, secret place for the surrogate family they've become to each other. Their relationship deepens and, though boy-girl friendships are scorned, and certainly rare in my years of elementary teaching experience, Jesse and Leslie are able to openly be friends, even at school.