Children, by their very nature, are friendlier and more loving than adults. Children also find it easier than adults to believe in the imagination and thereby build castles in the air. Thus, two lonely children in Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia build a bridge to Terabithia, which happens to be their very own imaginary forest kingdom. Jesse Aarons Jr. is a middle child among five siblings settled with their parents in rural Virginia. While his father works away in Washington D. C. , Jesse is not among his mother’s favorite children.
She does not seem to have much time for the son. Even so, Jesse’s sister, May Belle, shows love for her brother and even looks up to him. Leslie Burke, another important character in the book, is the only child of rich writers who have moved into Jesse’s area only recently. After Leslie wins a race that Jesse had been preparing all summer to win himself, in spite of the fact that the race is meant for “boys only,” the two strike a friendship. Both Jesse and Leslie are loners who do not get along very well with the other children at school.
Jesse is interested in art, while his dad in Washington D. C. disapproves. Leslie does not have a television at home. So, Jesse shares his love of art with his new friend, Leslie. She, in turn, describes to her new friend her own love of fantasy tales. Through these discussions emerge a new idea – that of creating a magical kingdom. This imaginary kingdom is created near the children’s homes and in the woods. What is more, this new kingdom belonging only to Jesse and Leslie is accessible only by means of a rope that must swing over the creek.
The kingdom is called Terabithia, and Jesse and Leslie are respectively named the King and the Queen of Terabithia. Jesse and Leslie spend each day at Terabithia after school. It is in their very own kingdom that the two children finally find their own place in the world. They shed their fears in this kingdom to boot, such as the fear of the bully, Janice Avery from 7th grade. One day when Jesse is out to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D. C. on a field trip with his music teacher, Ms.
Edmunds, whom he admires very much, Leslie goes off to Terabithia on her own. But while she is trying to cross the bridge to Terabithia – the rope that swings over a creek which is rain-swollen – her head hits a rock and the girl falls into the water to drown. Although Jesse cannot easily get over the death of Leslie, he overcomes the grief by remembering the strength that his new friendship had given him. Jesse overcomes his grief also by returning to Terabithia to perhaps save the life of Leslie, imagining that she may be alive somehow.
While he is searching for Leslie, he hears the cry of a young voice calling for help. At first, Jesse believes that he has found Leslie alive. However, the voice calling out to him is that of his younger sister, May Belle. Jesses helps out his younger sister who has got stuck right in the middle of the rope over the creek. Before Leslie’s parents leave Jesse’s area, the boy asks them whether he could take some wooden planks that are lying in their shed. The parents reply that Jesse may have anything left over by them.
Jesse takes the wooden planks to Terabithia and builds a bridge to replace the nasty rope over the creek. Once he is finished, he takes May Belle along with him to Terabithia to declare that she would be the Queen of Terabithia from now. Hence, the Bridge to Terabithia becomes an extraordinary adventure for young children, who would also learn how to face the realities of life through this wonderful read. Indeed, the book has important lessons for young children, one of the more important ones of which appears to be the use of reason.